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Brown sugar vs white sugar: Everything about the difference, nutrition and more

No matter how hard you try to run away from it, sugar is an essential part of our diets. Diving into the brown sugar vs white sugar debate, let’s find out everything you need to know about it.

When you are looking at recipes online, you will often find each recipe incorporating a different kind of sugar. That is because of the difference in taste and textures of these forms of sugar. But that’s not the only form of difference they have. They have a lot of others differences in other aspects – nutritionally, manufacture-wise, and more. Let’s get to know more about the brown sugar vs white sugar debate.

Debunking the brown sugar vs white sugar myth

Why are the colours different?

According to The Sugar Association, the initial manufacturing process for any type of sugar is the same. Sugar juice is extracted from sugar beet or sugarcane plants and then they are cleaned, crystallised and the raw sugar is then dried.

Unsplash/Victoria Priessnitz

During this process, manufacturers separate the sugar crystals from molasses, which is a thick, dark brown syrup that’s naturally present in sugar beet and sugarcane. It is the amount of molasses in a type of sugar that determines its colour and texture. This means that brown sugar contains that molasses that are removed while producing white sugar.

Simultaneously, white sugar is also run through a filtration process made with bone char, or crushed animal bones, to form white sugar.

What are the nutritional differences of brown sugar vs white sugar?

Nutritionally speaking, there’s not much difference between the two. Brown sugar contains 380 calories per 100 grams, while white sugar contains 385 calories per 100 g. So if you think brown sugar is a healthier choice than white sugar in maintaining a calorie deficit, you are clearly misinformed.

However, with 83 mg per 100 g compared to 1 mg per 100 g of white sugar, the calcium content in brown sugar is more than that of white sugar. Other minerals too, such as iron, are higher in brown sugar than its white counterpart.

But you have to remember that when you are having just a spoonful of sugar, these differences are so minute that they don’t even matter.

Health benefits of white sugar vs brown sugar

Since white sugar is more processed and refined, it provides an instant boost of energy to the body. It improves brain functioning by supplying a dose of glucose to it, that is essential for brain functioning. Additionally, white sugar is also a proven remedy to help wounds heal by helping in the formation of granulation tissue and negating the reproduction of bacteria.

brown sugar vs white sugar
Unsplash/Sharon McCutcheon

On the other hand, brown sugar might just be just a teeny bit lower than white sugar in calorie content, but it’s still something. In some cultures, brown sugar is used as a remedy for menstrual cramps. It also acts as a great natural exfoliant.

What is the main difference between brown sugar and white sugar?

The bottomline remains that if you are looking at these forms of sugar from a health perspective, they are almost the same. The major difference of brown sugar vs white sugar lies in their colour, texture and taste profiles.

The molasses in brown sugar are known to retain for moisture and hydration. Thus, it is used for making or baking moist, dense food items, such as rich fruit or plum cakes, cookies, chocolate cakes etc.

Unsplash/Anton

White sugar, on the other hand, is used in food items that require adequate rising and have an airy, fluffy texture. Think of fluffy Japanese cheesecakes, meringue, sponge cakes, mousses, soufflés.

Hero Image: Courtesy Unsplash/Tijana Drndarski, Featured Image: Courtesy Unsplash/Tijana Drndarski

Sreetama Basu

A self-proclaimed plant mom, Sreetama finds joy wherever she sees greenery. The list of other things that bring her joy is pretty long, but writing about them is her way of celebrating them. In love with little, inconsequential things, like neatly tucked-in bedsheets and big, significant things, like whole cheesecakes. She dreams of being a baker and writing about food someday.


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