Brown vs white sugar: What’s the difference and why should you care?

·3-min read

No matter how hard you try to avoid it, sugar is an essential part of our diets. Which brings us to the brown sugar vs white sugar debate. Let’s find out everything you need to know about both versions.

If you have looked up recipes online, you’d often find each recipe incorporating a specific type of sugar. That is because of the difference in taste and textures that these forms of sugar impart. But that’s not their only differences. They also vary 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.

(Image credit: Victoria Priessnitz/Unsplash)
(Image credit: Victoria Priessnitz/Unsplash)

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?

(Image credit: Tijana Drndarski/Unsplash)
(Image credit: Tijana Drndarski/Unsplash)

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 that brown sugar is a healthier choice than white sugar in maintaining a calorie deficit, you are clearly misinformed.

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

However, bear in mind that if you are having just a spoonful of sugar, these differences are so minute that they don’t really 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 glucose, which 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.

(Image credit: Monika Grabkowska/Unsplash)
(Image credit: Monika Grabkowska/Unsplash)

On the other hand, brown sugar might just be just a teeny bit lower than white sugar in calorie content, but it’s still beneficial in some aspects. 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 foods, such as rich fruit or plum cakes, cookies, chocolate cakes, and the works.

(Image credit: Alison Pang/Unsplash)
(Image credit: Alison Pang/Unsplash)

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

(Hero and featured image credit: Tijana Drndarski/Unsplash)


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