Alcohol is a popular beverage that many people enjoy, but what about the type of alcohol that comes from cane sugar?
With the rise of hard seltzers made from fermented cane sugars, it’s important to understand the potential effects on our health. While these drinks may be gluten-free and have fewer calories than other alcoholic beverages, they still contain empty calories and can cause inflammation in the gut.
Additionally, sugar alcohols, which are often used as sweeteners in many foods and drinks, can affect blood sugar levels and cause digestive issues if consumed in excess.
In this article, we’ll explore the pros and cons of alcohol from cane sugar and sugar alcohols to help you make informed decisions about your health.
Is Alcohol From Cane Sugar Bad For You?
Alcohol from cane sugar, like any other type of alcohol, can have negative effects on your health if consumed in excess. While it may be gluten-free and have fewer calories than other alcoholic beverages, it still contains empty calories and can contribute to weight gain.
Furthermore, alcohol interferes with our body’s normal processing of nutrients, and excess energy from alcohol is stored as fat. This can lead to inflammation in the gut and an imbalance in the microbiome, causing digestive issues such as gas, bloat, and diarrhea.
It’s important to note that when you consume spiked seltzer or any other alcoholic beverage made from fermented cane sugars, you’re not actually consuming seltzer with vodka or another clear alcohol. Instead, you’re drinking sweetened seltzer water that has gone through the fermentation process.
While some spiked seltzers may have no added sugar, they still contain sugar alcohols which can affect blood sugar levels and cause digestive issues if consumed in excess. It’s recommended to consume no more than 10-15 grams of sugar alcohols per day and to carefully read nutrition labels to determine the amount of sugar alcohol contained in a food or drink.
What Is Alcohol From Cane Sugar?
Alcohol from cane sugar is a type of alcohol made from the juice of the sugar cane plant. The process involves fermenting and distilling the juice to produce a neutral-smelling and tasteless alcohol that is almost completely odorless. This type of alcohol has many uses, ranging from alcohol production to food applications.
Sugar cane alcohol is commonly used as a base for alcoholic beverages such as hard seltzers, which are becoming increasingly popular in the market. Hard seltzers are typically made by fermenting cane sugar juice and adding fruit flavors, resulting in a low-calorie, gluten-free, and flavor-neutral alcoholic beverage.
Another type of alcohol made from sugarcane is cachaça, which is a popular distilled spirit in Brazil. Cachaça is made by crushing sugarcane and fermenting the juice to create a sweet and herbal-flavored liquor that is commonly used in cocktails such as the caipirinha.
While alcohol from cane sugar may have some health benefits due to the natural nutrients and minerals present in it, it can also have negative effects on your health if consumed in excess. Like any other type of alcohol, it can contribute to weight gain and disrupt the body’s normal processing of nutrients. Additionally, some spiked seltzers may contain sugar alcohols that can affect blood sugar levels and cause digestive issues if consumed in excess.
How Is Alcohol From Cane Sugar Made?
Alcohol from cane sugar can be made through a process of fermentation and distillation. The first step is to extract the sugar-rich cane juice by crushing the cane stalks. The juice is then collected and delivered to a fermentation tank where yeast is added to begin the fermentation process. The yeast breaks down the sugar in the juice and produces alcohol, resulting in a liquid called “beer.”
After fermentation, the beer is delivered to a distillation column where the ethanol is separated from the liquid residue known as vinasse. The purity of ethanol can be up to 92-95% at this point, but further water separation is required. Dehydration of the residual water is carried out using molecular sieves, resulting in a final product of fuel-grade anhydrous ethanol with 200 proof or >100% ethanol.
Another way to make alcohol from cane sugar is by fermenting sugar granules made from sugar cane. This process can be done at home and will result in homemade sugar cane wine. If distilled, it will turn into rum, which has a higher alcohol by volume (ABV) content.
Other types of sugar cane alcohols include cachaça, Mekong whiskey, and guaro. Cachaça is made from fermented sugar cane juice and is the main liquor used to make Brazil’s famous caipirinha cocktail. Mekong whiskey originated in Thailand and is made by fermenting sugar cane juice and rice, along with the addition of local herbs. Guaro is made by fermenting cane sugar juice and is popular in Costa Rica.
The Pros And Cons Of Alcohol From Cane Sugar
Alcohol from cane sugar, also known as sugarcane-based ethanol, has several advantages and disadvantages. One of the biggest advantages is that it is a renewable source of energy and emits fewer greenhouse gases than gasoline. Additionally, sugarcane-based ethanol has a higher energy balance than corn-based ethanol, meaning that it requires less energy to produce than it generates. This makes it a more cost-effective and environmentally friendly alternative to traditional gasoline.
Another advantage of sugarcane-based ethanol is that it can be produced from sugarcane residues such as bagasse and straw. This means that it can be produced without using additional land or resources, making it a sustainable option for energy production.
However, there are also some disadvantages to alcohol from cane sugar. One of the biggest concerns is the potential impact on food prices and availability. As sugarcane is also used for food production, there is a risk that increased demand for sugarcane-based ethanol could lead to higher food prices and shortages in some regions.
Another concern with sugarcane-based ethanol is the potential impact on the environment. While it emits fewer greenhouse gases than gasoline, the production of sugarcane-based ethanol still requires significant amounts of water and can contribute to deforestation and soil degradation if not managed properly.
Finally, like any other type of alcohol, sugarcane-based ethanol can have negative health effects if consumed in excess. It is important to consume alcohol in moderation and to be aware of the potential risks associated with excessive alcohol consumption.
The Effects Of Sugar Alcohols On The Body
Sugar alcohols are a type of carbohydrate that are used as a sugar substitute in many foods, particularly those that are labeled “sugar-free” or “no added sugar.” While they are considered safe for consumption, there are some side effects to consider.
Firstly, sugar alcohols can affect your gastrointestinal (GI) system. When consumed in excess, they can cause bloating, gas, and diarrhea. This is because sugar alcohols are not completely absorbed by the small intestine and instead travel to the large intestine where they are fermented by bacteria. This fermentation process can lead to the production of gas and other GI symptoms.
Secondly, some sugar alcohols can contribute to spikes in blood sugar levels. While they are lower in calories and have less of an impact on blood sugar levels than regular sugar, they still contain carbohydrates and can affect your glucose levels if consumed in excess. It’s important to keep track of your daily carb intake if you choose to consume foods with sugar alcohols and to monitor your blood sugar levels to see how they affect you.
Lastly, it’s important to carefully read nutrition labels when consuming foods with sugar alcohols. Manufacturers are only required to list sugar alcohols if they’ve identified their product as being sugar-free. Look for the “Total Carbohydrate” number on the label and check for the amount of dietary fiber, total sugars and added sugars, followed by a line indicating the amount of sugar alcohol in the product.
How Much Alcohol From Cane Sugar Is Safe To Consume?
The amount of alcohol from cane sugar that is safe to consume depends on a variety of factors, including your overall health, body weight, and tolerance to alcohol. It’s important to remember that alcohol from cane sugar is still alcohol, and excessive consumption can lead to negative health effects.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), moderate drinking for women is defined as one drink per day, while for men it is defined as two drinks per day. One drink is equivalent to 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits.
However, it’s important to note that these guidelines are for overall alcohol consumption and do not specifically address alcohol from cane sugar. It’s also important to consider the sugar content in alcoholic beverages made from fermented cane sugars, as excessive sugar intake can lead to weight gain and other negative health effects.
In general, it’s recommended to consume alcohol from cane sugar in moderation and to be mindful of the sugar content in alcoholic beverages. As with any dietary decision, it’s always best to consult with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian to determine what amount of alcohol from cane sugar is safe for you based on your individual health needs and goals.
Alternatives To Alcohol From Cane Sugar
If you’re looking for alternatives to traditional alcohol made from cane sugar, there are a variety of options available.
One option is to try hard spirits like gin, vodka, whiskey, and rum, which are made from grains or potatoes instead of cane sugar. However, it’s important to watch your mixer as sugary mixers can still contribute to weight gain and other negative health effects.
Another option is to try non-alcoholic spirits like FLUÈRE Spiced Cane Dark Roast, which is made using state-of-the-art hydro-steam distillation to create an alcohol-free spirit. It has delicious notes of chocolate and coffee in the nose and a sweet, complex flavor that blends the richness of Dominican sugar cane with hints of tonka bean and spices. It’s perfect for mixing with cola and ice or for making a non-alcoholic ‘old fashioned’.
For those who enjoy the taste of rum but want to avoid the alcohol content altogether, there are non-alcoholic spirits like Biscane that feature notes of sugarcane, caramel, and molasses. These spirits have complex aromas and a warm finish that make them a great substitute for traditional rum.
Finally, if you’re looking for a sweet treat without the added calories and negative health effects of traditional alcoholic beverages, you can try sugar-free or low-sugar alternatives like flavored sparkling water or tea. These options provide a refreshing taste without the added sugars that can lead to weight gain and other negative health effects.