How often do you eat sugarcane?

Sugarcanes are one of the sweetest gifts of nature; one clean bite of it on a hot sunny day can quench one’s thirst. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of chewing sugarcane then I guess you’ve appreciated its refreshing and energizing effect on the body. Apart from it being juicy, it’s endowed with numerous health benefits.
Apart from being juicy, sugarcane has various health benefits.  (All photos by Donah Mbabazi)
Apart from being juicy, sugarcane has various health benefits. (All photos by Donah Mbabazi)

Sugarcanes are one of the sweetest gifts of nature; one clean bite of it on a hot sunny day can quench one’s thirst. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of chewing sugarcane then I guess you’ve appreciated its refreshing and energizing effect on the body. Apart from it being juicy, it’s endowed with numerous health benefits.

Odette Kamanzi a nutrition specialist from Rwanda Nutritionists Society, says sugarcanes contain iron and vitamins A, C, B1, B2, B3, B5, and B6, along with high concentration of phytonutrients, antioxidants and soluble fiber all of which work together to keep the body in a good and healthy shape.

They are also rich in calcium, chromium, cobalt, copper, magnesium, manganese, phosphorous, potassium and zinc.

She says: “Sugarcane being low on glycemic index helps keep the body fit and healthy. Since sugarcane has no simple sugar, it can be enjoyed by diabetics without any fear. However, the intake should be limited to people suffering from type-2 diabetes.”

Being alkaline in nature, sugarcane juice helps the body in fighting against cancer, especially prostate and breast cancer.

Kamanzi explains that sugarcane provides glucose to the body, which is stored as glycogen and burned by the muscles whenever they require energy. Therefore, the perennial plant is considered to be one of the best sources of energy.

If one has been exposed to heat and physical activity for too long, they can opt for a drink of sugarcane juice; it can help hydrate the body quickly since it supplies instant energy to working muscles and for this reason, it is also known to maximize performance in sports and endurance.

“Taken in a diluted form, with lime juice and coconut water, sugar cane juice helps in reducing the burning sensation which is commonly associated with urinary tract infections, sexually transmitted diseases, kidney stones and prostatitis. It also protects the liver against infections and helps in keeping the bilirubin levels in control,” Kamanzi says.

Studies show that sugarcane juice protects against tooth decay and bad breath due to its high mineral content. So save yourself the next trip to the dentist and drink a glass of fresh sugarcane juice to get shiny white teeth.

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Sugarcane can be consumed in various forms including juice. Juice helps hydrate the body quickly. 

Kamanzi, however, cautions that one of the biggest side effects of cane juice is that it contains a fair amount of calories which, if consumed in large quantities, can lead to weight gain, It is therefore best to take it in moderate amounts especially for people with diabetes.

According to Isaac Bikorimana, a nutritionist at Kibagabaga Hospital, sugar cane juice boosts protein levels in the body, helping it to maintain perfect health of vital organs such as the kidney.

Sugar cane juice also acts as a good digestive aid due to the presence of potassium. It helps in keeping the digestive system in good shape, prevents stomach infections and is considered to be particularly useful in treating constipation.

“Deficiency of nutrients in the body can easily be noticed by looking at the health and condition of one’s nails. If one has brittle discolored nails that have white spots on them, then it’s time to add sugar cane juice in their diet to boost their health,” Bikorimana says.

He explains that sugarcane juice has been discovered to be great for people who are struggling with febrile disorders. Febrile disorders can result into fevers, which can lead to seizures and loss of protein in the body. The condition is quite common in infants and children. Sugar cane juice helps in compensating the lost protein and helps in recovery.

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