Skip to content

Brown sugar, healthier than white?


If you are curious, you may have ever wondered what the difference is between white sugar and brown sugar . In this article you can find out what their origins are and what these two types of sugars that we can find in supermarkets are used for.

What is the origin of sugar?

Nobody is aware that sugar is an ancient product and that it has been present on the tables of the whole world for a long time. In fact, the first references to this product date back more than 5000 years , in Africa. From there, it spread to Asia and the Mediterranean region.

By the 15th century after Christ, white sugar already dominated the vast majority of Europe , being a product that came from Venice. However, the Venetians lost their monopoly on sugar around 1498, when Vasco da Gama arrived in India and started a new trade route for sugar from the Asian country.

At this point, it is worth mentioning that sugar is not only used as food, although that is the vision that most of the world has. Actually, in addition to food, sugar is used to produce ethanol and butanol, which can be used as fuels .

In addition, it is also used in different production processes, being, for example, an essential ingredient to make some types of soaps for cleaning the most varied surfaces.

As for the subject at hand (although we will develop it more in depth a little later), white sugar is obtained from sugar cane or beets. And, in addition to white sugar, it is also called common sugar.

Sugarcane is a plant of the Poaceae family
 , being plants with a stem several meters long and elongated nodes. For its part, beet is a plant of which there are a great variety of types. It can grow to two meters tall (in some varieties), and its color can range from green to purple.

Sugar cane

Since sugarcane is a plant that only grows in tropical climates, but beet grows in any temperate zone, it is common for countries to consume sugar that comes from both plants, since limiting itself to one of the two plants would increase its price.

Someone might think that this is not a good idea, because they will be very different types of sugar. But the truth is that both types of sugar (that of sugar cane and that of beet), have very high levels of sucrose, close to 100%, so they can be used interchangeably .

The sugar production process

Regarding the production process of sugar, it should be noted that there are small differences between the process of extraction and production of sugar from cane or beet. But, in general, they are quite similar processes . For this reason, we are going to explain only the process from sugar cane.

To begin with, the sugar cane is crumbled with rotating blades, and then it is ground. When a paste has been made, water is passed to extract the sugar content of the cane, and then it is passed to a new mill.

Through this pressing process, the cane releases all its sugar. Typically four to seven mills are used in this process. When finished, a dark green juice is obtained, at which time the product must be clarified, in order to eliminate impurities.

After cleaning, the sugar juice is passed to evaporators, which are responsible for evaporating the water so that the crystallization process begins. With this crystallization process, it ends up reaching the sugar as we know it.
For its part, brown sugar is obtained in the same way, but, once the crystallization process has taken place, molasses from the sugar cane itself is added. This molasses is nothing more than a residue that is obtained after the process described above, being a juice from which no more sugar can be extracted.

However, it contains sucrose, salts and other types of compounds that give sugar greater nutritional value (not surprisingly, in the past, brown sugar was valued better than normal sugar – something that no longer happens today).

What differences and similarities are there between the two types of sugars?

The first difference that can be seen between both types of sugar is the flavor, which is more intense in brown than in common, which tends to have a milder flavor. A second difference that can be seen with the naked eye is that brown sugar has larger grains and, of course, dark in color.

In general, white sugar is the one that is most widespread , both in baking and in all other culinary processes. However, brown sugar also has a good space, especially in baking.

Another interesting difference is the fact that brown sugar has fewer calories per hundred grams , standing at around 375 kilocalories, while white sugar has about 397 kilocalories in the same amount.

In addition, brown sugar has a greater amount of water, which makes it more convenient to use in different industrial processes. This is due to the hygroscopic nature of the molasses it contains.

However, not all are differences between these two types of sugar. For example, one of the elements they share is the fact that they are both non-perishable products, so they can be preserved for a long time just by keeping them in a cool and dry place.

It should also be mentioned that they are not the only types of sugar on the market. We also have the following:

  • The icing sugar : This is a variant of sugar white sugar confectionery widespread. It is a very fine sugar, and it is common to see it in all kinds of sweets.
  • The brown sugar : This is a sugar that has not been refined, so it retains the minerals and vitamins that had originally. By its nature, it has a moist and dark appearance, as well as a much stronger flavor, with a smell close to that of liquorice.
  • The brown sugar : This sugar is obtained after refining beet syrup, and similarly features a comprehensive, but not as strong odors and flavors, softer. It is used in confectionery, especially to sweeten crepes and waffles.
  • The brown sugar : This is a similar brown sugar, since it is only partially refined. Thus, it contains part of the original molasses, which means that it also maintains part of its nutrients and minerals.
  • The brown sugar : brown sugar is also called the brown sugar or brown sugar, and brown sugar is a high capacity to sweeten. It is the most suitable sugar for diets (although it is always preferable to opt for alternatives, as you will see at the end of the article).

Is white sugar or brown sugar healthier?

This is undoubtedly one of the questions that most interest people who are looking for information about the differences between both types of sugar. Which is better to include in the diet? The white one or the dark one?

And the truth is that, chemically, neither of the two sugars have great differences . Most white sugar is sucrose, and the same is true for brown sugar. However, brown sugar has a lower amount (95%, compared to 99% of white sugar).

You also have to think that the use made of sugar in different foods is minimal, so the difference between the nutritional contributions of both is also minimal . In this sense, if you want to take a sweetener that provides more nutritional elements to your meals, you should use honey.

At this point it should be mentioned that there are many people who claim that brown sugar has advantages over white, such as delaying aging or reducing menstrual cramps. However, there is no scientific evidence to support these claims.

In general, these types of rumors spread because brown sugar has a more natural appearance than white. However, it is enough to know that the dark color of brown sugar is added after the refining process to understand that this idea does not hold up anywhere.

Is sugar harmful?

Now we do enter an important point, and it is the damage that sugar can cause . And, we are not going to fool ourselves, sugar is a source of what has come to be called “empty calories”. That is, calories that contribute practically nothing to the body.

That is why it is recommended that sugar be reduced to a minimum if you want to maintain a good diet. In addition, there are studies that show that sugar damages the heart in the long term, since it affects the pumping mechanism, increasing the risk of heart failure.

Too much sugar also increases triglyceride levels, which gradually damage blood vessels and can lead to acute pancreatitis. But the damage caused by sugar is not the only thing you should be concerned about.

And it is that, beyond that simple damage, it must be added that sugar generates diction, as a study from the University of Cambridge was able to verify. When consuming sugar, the same areas of the brain are activated as when ingesting cocaine or morphine .

What does the World Health Organization think?

Following previous studies, which have appeared in recent years, the WHO has begun to recommend that you do not consume more than 50 grams of sugar per day. And, yes, I know this doesn’t tell you much, because you don’t know how much sugar each food has.

To give you the idea, 50 grams of sugar is what is in 400 grams of banana, 600 of peach or twelve teaspoons of coffee. It is not much, the truth, and more in a society like ours, in which we are used to using sugar for practically everything.

In fact, the average daily sugar consumption is around 100 grams , which means that we consume twice what the WHO recommends as a limit, and that we quadruple what the WHO considers to be the optimal sugar intake (25 grams) .

Keep in mind that sugar, by providing calories to the body, reduces hunger, and prevents us from consuming foods that, in addition to those calories, would provide us with more nutrients. Therefore, we should pay attention to Professor Francesco Branca, who states that:

” If of all the calories you consume per day, only 10% are free sugars, you will substantially reduce your risk of overweight, obesity and cavities .”

Is there a substitute for sugar?

Now, the question is: And if I don’t eat sugar, how am I going to sweeten my food?

The answer is by substitute sweeteners . There are a large number of options on the market, saccharin being the best known. Saccharin is lower in calories and sweeter than sugar, making it a popular choice. However, there are other options.

Another good option is Stevia, a plant that offers a very powerful sugar substitute sweetener. In addition, in recent times it has become very fashionable in all types of diets. It has a somewhat milder taste than sugar, but much more durable.

A third and final option is tagatose, which is a very good option for people with diabetes , since it is not metabolized through the blood, but through the digestive system . Thanks to this, it does not affect blood glucose levels.

In conclusion, both white and brown sugar have a very similar composition. Since there is not a great difference in its contribution of nutrients, the main factor by which we must orient ourselves when choosing between acquiring one or the other should be the taste or touch that we like the most.


Website | + posts

Hello Readers, I am Nikki Bella a Psychology student. I have always been concerned about human behavior and the mental processes that lead us to act and think the way we do. My collaboration as an editor in the psychology area of ​​Well Being Pole has allowed me to investigate further and expand my knowledge in the field of mental health; I have also acquired great knowledge about physical health and well-being, two fundamental bases that are directly related and are part of all mental health.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *