Sugar is a natural ingredient that has been part of the human diet for thousands of years. While there are many types, brown and white sugar are among the most popular varieties.
This article compares brown and white sugar to help you decide which to choose.
Given that white and brown sugar originate from the same crops — either the sugarcane or sugar beet plant plant — they are quite similar. In fact, most brown sugar is a mixture of white sugar and molasses, which is a type of sugar-derived syrup. Molasses is responsible for its darker color and slightly increases its nutritional value. The most notable nutritional difference between the two is that brown sugar has slightly higher calcium, iron, and potassium contents.
Sugar is produced in tropical climates where sugarcane or sugar beet plants grow. Both plants undergo a similar process to produce sugar. However, the methods used to make it into brown and white sugar differ.
First, the sugary juice from both crops is extracted, purified, and heated to form a brown, concentrated syrup called molasses.
Next, the crystallized sugar is centrifuged to produce sugar crystals. A centrifuge is a machine that spins extremely fast to separate sugar crystals from molasses.
White sugar is then further processed to remove any excess molasses and create smaller crystals. Subsequently, it’s run through a filtration system that’s often made with bone char, or crushed animal bones, to form white sugar.
Refined brown sugar is simply white sugar that has had molasses added back into it. Meanwhile, whole, unrefined brown sugar undergoes less processing than white sugar, allowing it to retain some of its molasses content and natural brown color.
Which Should You Choose?
Although brown sugar contains more minerals than white sugar, the quantities of these minerals are so minuscule that they won’t provide any health benefits.
For this reason, it’s recommended to consume no more than 5–10% of your daily calories from added sugar. However, this should be limited even further for optimal health. While it’s fine to enjoy a sugary treat now and then, all types of sugar should be limited in a healthy diet.
When choosing between brown or white sugar, let your personal preference guide you, as they will have equal effects on your health.