photo: iStock

Whether you’re calling it papelón, guarapo, or just plain sugarcane juice, this sweet beverage has been satiating people’s thirsts worldwide for years, with India and Brazil being the world’s top producers. So why is it just starting to make a buzz stateside? Possibly because of the numerous health benefits associated with cold-pressed, raw sugarcane juice (the less processed, less refined version).

It may seem hard to imagine that a beverage with the word sugar in it could actually be good for you. But Los Angeles retailer Raw Sugar Cane Juice Bar boasts that the beverage is high in vitamins and minerals and can even help lower cholesterol. Ayurvedic practitioners claim that the juice helps with digestion and bowel problems as well as with conditions like erectile dysfunction — which would of course make for better sex.

Related From Vivala: The One Drink That Helped Me Get Healthy Skin

Sugarcane juice is rich in fiber and antioxidants, which is why it’s particularly important to make sure your juice is raw — the process of applying heat to the sugarcane can significantly diminish its health properties.

While there are plenty of people touting the benefits of the sweet refreshment, an eight-ounce serving still packs about 180 calories and 30 grams of sugar, which is more than the daily recommended sugar intake. However, according to Organic Lifestyle Magazine, sugarcane juice is considered a healthy sugar alternative, if taken in moderation, with a low glycemic index of 43.

Related From Vivala: Being Sick for Years Forced Me to Eat Healthy

In an interview with, Dr. Melina Jampolis, president of the National Board of Physician Nutrition Specialists, suggested that the juice may be a better alternative to other sugar-laden drinks. “Some sugarcane juice brands report a lower glycemic index than other sugar-sweetened beverages, which means it raises blood sugar more slowly so you are less likely to have a blood sugar crash afterward,” said Jampolis, “compared with other sugar-sweetened beverages that are more refined and processed, sugarcane juice could be better.”

So if you’re looking for another healthy drink to add to your rotation, sugarcane juice could be a great, tasty answer. Just make sure you’re going the cold-pressed route to really reap all of the benefits it has to offer.