The Sugar Debate

Written by Food

There has been a long drawn out debate over which sugar is actually “better” for you; white or brown. Sugar is a natural substance that has been a part of our diets for centuries and something that many of us struggle to live without. It originates both in sugarcane and sugar beet and is grown in tropical climates such as Australia and India. Whilst brown and white sugar are nutritionally similar, their differences stem in their flavour and colour.

Sugar is produced by extracting, then heating, the juice from the crop to form a brown, concentrated syrup known as molasses. White sugar then undergoes further processing to extract the excess molasses to create smaller and more refined crystals.

Nutritionally, both brown and white sugar are highly similar. Whilst the former has more calcium, iron, and potassium, the quantity is nowhere near enough to actually add any additional health benefits (sorry to disappoint all you sugar lovers out there). Moreover, the calorie content in four grams of sugar is starkly similar, with brown sugar boasting 15 calories in comparison to 16.3 in white sugar.

Why do people care so much about which one they consume then?

The colour and flavour of these two sugars is where the major difference lies. The molasses in brown sugar retains moisture, producing softer and denser baked goods, making it the perfect ingredient for gooey cookies and brownies. White sugar, on the other hand, is generally used in lighter dishes that need to rise, such as cakes.

The differences in nutritional value are hardly worth noting

Their differences do not stop there, however; brown sugar has a deep caramel or toffee-like flavour, making it the perfect ingredient to add to chocolate-based dishes. In contrast, white sugar is a much sweeter component, therefore baked goods harnessing its natural flavours tend to offer a lighter flavour more suited to someone with a strong sweet tooth.

For years, brown sugar has stereotypically been termed “the healthier option”, yet as we can see, the differences in nutritional value are hardly worth noting. Recognising their individual qualities in terms of flavour and baking capabilities, however, can really make a difference in the finished product.

Last modified: 21st June 2020

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