Sugar Has Company


Country MoonSugar is in the news a lot lately. It’s bad for you, cut down on it. Don’t eat sugar at all. Try sugar substitutes. It all can be confusing.

With all the choices, it is hard to tell what the best choices are. Honey, molasses, sorghum, maple syrup and many more can be whole food sugar substitutes. I have sort of muddled through this field, sampling different ones here and there without really knowing what I was doing. So, I decided to give it some serious thought.

I remember my uncle growing sorghum and pressing it into this thick, gooey substance that he, my Mom and the rest of the family loved over pancakes. To me, it was anything but a sweetener. Bitter is more the word that I would use.

Still, sorghum and its cousin, molasses, are often used as sweeteners. Many folks think they are one and the same although they are two distinct products.

If you ask most folks today, they haven’t a clue what sorghum is. A cereal grain, it is the fifth most important cereal grain in the world. With its natural draught tolerance, it can be grown in dry climates and is versatile as a food, feed and fuel. In the United States, besides human consumption, it is used as livestock feed and in ethanol plants.

It is naturally gluten-free and, unlike other grains, has an edible hull. It is high in antioxidants and the wax surrounding the sorghum grain contains policosanols which research is showing promise in its ability to lower cholesterol as well as statins. A couple generations ago it was the staple sweetener in southern dishes because it was cheap and plentiful.

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