Sugar: Better White or Brown?

Is it better white or brown sugar? It's an old story, on which it seems difficult to agree definitively. If in the case of many foods the nutritional values radically change in their integral or refined variant (cereals for example lose part of their virtues if they are not consumed whole), so it does not seem to be for sugar.


Is it better white or brown sugar? It’s an old story, on which it seems difficult to agree definitively. If in the case of many foods the nutritional values radically change in their integral or refined variant (cereals for example lose part of their virtues if they are not consumed whole), so it does not seem to be for sugar.

It is true that brown sugar (also called cane sugar) is richer in some elements than in the refining that leads to white sugar is lost, but the differences are not so clear. If the brown sugar has 17 calories per teaspoon, the white one has 16.

The taste changes slightly, because the brown one has a higher molasses content, while the contribution of other elements does not change significantly. The intake of vitamin A, pantothenic acid, and vitamins B1 and B2 remains modest in the case of brown sugar, not sufficient to justify a clear preference.

Furthermore, often this type of sugar has also been subjected to a refining process and as it is not reported on the packaging what the impact of the process is, it is not known whether the product we consume is less industrial than the white sugar counterpart.

Ultimately it seems that we can opt for one or the other type of sugar according to criteria that do not take too much account of nutritional values. We will build on the taste and use we need to make of it. Some preparations in fact, especially in the case of desserts, may require white or brown sugar resulting in a difference in results.

Let’s get more technical

Chemically, between white sugar and cane sugar, there is no difference. The molecule of white sugar and raw cane sugar is in fact exactly the same, or sucrose.

The difference is that, while in white sugar only sucrose is present, in the raw cane one there are some residues of molasses which gives it a yellow-brown color. Molasses is a substance composed of mineral salts, fibers and other components that are certainly very useful to the body, but present in percentages so low that they are not significant in terms of nutrition.

Both are therefore industrial products that do not present nutritional differences. The belief that cane sugar is healthier than white sugar is due to the idea that whole food is less refined and more beneficial; rule certainly valid for cereals, but not for sugar. Furthermore, the two sugars both provide the same calories, which correspond to 4 kcal per gram.

In conclusion

As an alternative to sugar you could use honey, one of the most used sweeteners since ancient times and represents a valid substitution of sugar. So it is wrong to think that the color of sugar depends on the raw material from which it is made, the cane or beet. In fact, it depends on the percentage of molasses, that is, of unpurified residue.
Traditionally, cane sugar is sold dark because it undergoes less refining processes, but if desired, dark sugar could also be made from beetroot.

12 thoughts on “Sugar: Better White or Brown?

  1. Avatar
    Ayyub Partridge says:

    In the molasses contained in the brown sugar, there are, in very low quantities, some minerals (especially potassium) and vitamins. But since small amounts of sugar are taken daily, these “extra” substances present in brown sugar do not bring particular benefits to the body. This has been proven many times and still a very large part of common people believes in brown sugar being good for a diet of some sort.

  2. Avatar
    Phyllis Wormald says:

    In fact sometimes it can even be worse. And by now nutritionists and doctors agree that this is just one of the many false food myths.

  3. Avatar
    Qasim Cain says:

    Depends on what we’re looking for. Calories, glycemic index and impact on the body are equivalent. Between white sugar and whole sugar there is a third way: that of integral cane that has undergone less manipulation and contains a greater percentage of vitamins and mineral salts thanks to those “impurities” present.

  4. Avatar
    Yvonne Bonilla says:

    In conclusion, from the chemical (and therefore nutritional) point of view, consuming white or brown sugar is exactly the same.

  5. Avatar
    Mina Bowers says:

    Although scientists have been studying for years what we eat (and the chemistry that underlies it) and we are increasingly educated about nutrition, the false myths of food are still widespread.

  6. Avatar
    Stephan Davey says:

    First of all it is good to remember that sugars are indispensable foods for our diet: they represent a very important source of energy readily available to the body.

  7. Avatar
    Tiarna Rooney says:

    Sugars therefore allow the functioning of the brain and the muscular tissues of the body, and are “clean fuels” because their metabolism does not produce residual waste.

  8. Avatar
    Mischa Rangel says:

    Following the release of the energy contained in sugars, this are transformed into water and carbon dioxide that our body completely eliminates.

  9. Avatar
    Gerard Mcarthur says:

    My nutritionist recommend reduced consumption of simple sugars, which should not amount to more than 10-15% of the total daily calorie intake. This corresponds, in a diet of 2100 kcal per day, to about 56-84 grams of simple sugars per day.

  10. Avatar
    Sophia-Rose Middleton says:

    Weight gain and obesity phenomena deriving from a diet too rich in sugars are not to be overlooked.

Comments are closed.