Rock sugar, also known as rock candy or sugar candy, is a hard confection made by cooling sugar syrup into large crystals, sometimes around a stick or piece of string. It can be made with different types of sugar, including white granulated sugar, sugar cane, and brown sugar.
Rock sugar is especially common in Asian cuisines and is used to sweeten teas, desserts, and even savory dishes. It is less sweet than a comparable volume of granulated, white table sugar, making it an ideal, mild sweetener for many drinks and dishes.
Some people believe rock sugar is healthier than white granulated sugar. However, there is no scientific evidence to support that rock sugar has distinct health benefits over granulated sugar. Moreover, rock sugar is often made from refined white sugar, making its chemical composition identical.
1 teaspoon (4 grams) of rock sugar contains:
●Protein: 0 grams
●Fat: 0 grams
●Carbohydrates: 6.5 grams
●Fiber: 0 grams
●Sugar: 6.5 grams
While sugar provides a quick source of energy for the body, it does not provide any significant amount of vitamins or minerals.
Potential Health Benefits of Rock Sugar
The health benefits of rock sugar, or any sugar, are limited.
Quick Source of Energy
Rock sugar is a simple carbohydrate. Simple carbohydrates— such as rock sugar, table sugar, syrup, and honey— metabolize quickly in the body. They are rapidly broken down into glucose after consumption, causing swift spikes and drops in blood sugar levels. As a result, rock sugar, like table sugar, serves as a quick source of energy for your body's cells, tissues, and organs.
Mild Sweetness Levels
Rock sugar typically has a milder sweetness level than a comparable amount of pure table sugar. Since it is made from a water and sugar solution, it is more diluted than refined sugar.
Replacing refined sugar with the same volume of rock sugar crystals could lead to lower sugar intake and fewer calories being consumed, but only if you don't end up adding more rock sugar to increase the level of sweetness.
Potential Risks of Rock Sugar
While sugar has its place in our diet, its health benefits are limited. According to experts, daily sugar intake should be carefully regulated.
In fact, USDA dietary guidelines recommend that no more than 10% of your total daily calories come from added sugars. The American Heart Association recommends less than six teaspoons of sugar per day for women and nine per day for men.
The average American eats 17 teaspoons of sugar every day. This adds up to a whopping 57 pounds of added sugar per person every year.
There is plenty of evidence to suggest that excess sugar consumption contributes to weight gain, which can eventually lead to obesity. Obesity is linked to a number of health conditions, such as Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and more.
Type 2 Diabetes
Research has shown an association between high-sugar diets and increased risk of dying from heart disease. The results of a long-term study showed that people who consumed 17-21% of their daily caloric intake as added sugar had a 38% higher risk of dying from cardiovascular disease.
Poor Oral Health
While sugar does not harm teeth directly, it invites bacteria that feed on sugar stuck to your teeth, forming a layer of plaque. The plaque enables bacteria to remain on your teeth for a longer period of time. The bacteria produce acids that erode tooth enamel over time, causing cavities.
Other toxic products released by bacteria can penetrate your gum tissue and cause gingivitis. Left untreated, gingivitis can escalate to a more serious disease called periodontitis, which may lead to bone and tissue loss around your teeth.