Summary: A grave error of conventional nutrition is the failure to distinguish sources of a nutrient. By this way of thinking, all “sugar” becomes the same thing, whether the term refers to isolated molecules derived from the chemical breakdown of cornstarch or to molecules of the same constitution but surrounded by a group of vitamins and minerals that happen to perfectly assist their metabolism in the body. And so modern nutrition sees no difference between the raw juice of sugarcane and the white purified crystals it becomes after industrial processing. Yet there is a difference, a profound one, as renowned nutritionist and inventor Dr. Royal Lee points out in this 1943 article. Raw sugarcane juice is actually a great source of many vitamins, Dr. Lee explains, and while these micronutrients are lost in the process of refining, the body still needs them to properly metabolize sugar molecules. Thus overconsumption of refined sugar must necessarily dysregulate our metabolism, manifesting as conditions such as diabetes and obesity. In the early 1940s, in an effort to help bring “healthy sugar” to the public, Dr. Lee invented a cold-evaporation technique that retained and preserved all the micronutrients naturally found in sugarcane. That process, described here, might have helped prevent the decay of our national health, had our officials had the sense to realize that not all sources of a nutrient are equal. From the Portsmouth Herald, 1943.[The following is a transcription of the original Archives document. To view or download the original document, click here.]
New Sugar-Making Method Claimed by Milwaukee Dentist
Swampscott, Massachusetts, June 15 (AP) — A new method of making sugar, which retains the vitamin and mineral values of sugar cane juice, was claimed today by Dr. Royal Lee, Milwaukee dentist.
Dr. Lee told the thirtieth annual convention of the Northeastern Dental Association that the process resulted from study of the effect of various vitamin and mineral elements on the teeth.
“The juice of sugar cane is, like whole wheat, [one of] the richest sources of vitamins and minerals,” he said. “The new sugar is nothing more than cane juice that has been dehydrated, with nothing removed but water.
“This new sugar is also economically sound, for twice as much can be made from the same amount of cane juice as is possible today with the refined sugar.
“This sugar contains three-and-one-half percent mineral elements. Much of this is calcium. The Negro children in the sugarcane districts of the South have the most perfect teeth of children in the country. That shows what these minerals mean in nutrition.”
Dr. Lee said the vitamin content includes A, B complex, C, and K, the latter regarded as highly effective in prevention of tooth decay.
Sugars for Diet Deficiencies
Immediate commercial applications of the new sugar, Dr. Lee remarked, could be found in the candy, beverage, and baking industries. In addition, he said, special sugars could be developed and used for diet deficiencies.
The Lee process does not employ heat to reduce cane juice. The juice first is filtered. Then a solvent is used to kill bacteria. The juice is then frozen. This results in pure ice crystals [being] intermingled with a concentrated [sugar] solution. The frozen mass is chipped and placed in a centrifuge, which, when whirled, discharges the sugar solution through the perforated bowl wall.
Repeated freezing and centrifuging produces a cold-process syrup. To this is added a small quantity of a grain extract (wheat, flax, barley) that has the property of altering the attraction of the cane juice for water. [Finally] the syrup is dried to a crystal or powder form by equipment such as is used in egg or milk drying.
This [process], Dr. Lee said, affords a cream-colored, sweet-tasting product with a pleasant, distinctive flavor differing from other sugar in that it has a tartness, [like that] found in very sweet orange juice.
Author unknonwn. The Portsmouth Herald, Portsmouth, New Hampshire, June 15, 1943.