Brown Sugar vs. White Sugar

Brown Sugar
White Sugar

Brown sugar and white sugar are both made from sugarcane. Brown sugar also contains molasses and water and has a slightly lower calorific value than white sugar. White sugar is sweeter than brown sugar so they are not substitutes. Some people believe that brown sugar is healthier than white sugar but this is not true; both are equally harmful in large quantities.

Comparison chart

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Brown Sugar

Brown Sugar

White Sugar

White Sugar
Contains White sugar crystals; molasses White sugar crystals
Calories per 100g 377 387
Taste Slightly less sweet Sweeter and rich
Texture Moist, clumpy Dry, grainy
Cost (on Amazon) $5.99 (Domino 1lb) $6.59 (Domino 5lb)
Types of included sugars Sucrose Sucrose

Contents: Brown Sugar vs White Sugar

A fancy white sugar cube
A fancy white sugar cube

edit Ingredients

While white sugar only contains sugar crystals, brown sugar is made from sugar crystals and molasses. Regular brown sugar contains up to 10% molasses, usually derived from sugar cane.

edit Production

Brown sugar used to be sugar that hadn't been fully refined, it was coarse "raw" sugar. But now brown sugar is usually produced by adding cane molasses to refined white sugar crystals. Sugar beet molasses are also occasionally used.

A kid enjoying a donut with sprinkles
A kid enjoying a donut with sprinkles

White sugar crystals are manufactured from either sugarcane or sugar beet. It is refined by immersion into a concentrated syrup. The crystals are then separated from the liquid and dissolved in water. Color is removed using a granular activated carbon or an ion-exchange resin, and the mixture is boiled and then cooled, spun in a centrifuge and then dried in hot air.

edit Culinary Uses

Both brown and white sugar are commonly used in baking and as sweeteners for coffee or tea. Brown sugar may be used in baked goods to create a richer taste, but the moistness can affect their appearance. Brown sugar can also be used to make marinades, but it does not make a good substitute in sauce recipes that call for white sugar because brown sugar has a different flavor and is less sweet.

Here are some of the popular food items that have high sugar content:

Food Sugar content
12-ounce soft drink 8
8-ounce fruit-flavored yogurt 6
8-ounce low-fat chocolate milk 4
1-cup of frosted whole grain cereal 3
8-ounce low-fat chocolate milk 4

edit Health and Nutrition

Brown sugar contains more water so it has a slightly lower caloric value per 100g than white sugar.

Although some people claim that brown sugar is healthier than white sugar, there is very little difference between the two. Both can be fattening in large amounts.

In this video, nutrionist professor Adam Carey talks about the side effects of too much sugar:

According to American Heart Association, the recommended amount of sugar intake in women is no more than 6 teaspoons a day, or 100 calories, of added sugar — the sweeteners and syrups that are added to foods during processing, preparation or at the table. For most men, the recommended limit is 9 teaspoons, or 150 calories. The heart group released a report stating that Americans eat an average of 22 teaspoons of sugar a day, more than twice the recommended amount. In teens, it was found to be 34 tablespoons. [1]

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