Fact or Myth: Brown sugar is healthier than white sugar
When choosing between brown or white sugar, which is healthier than the other? Most people assume brown sugar has more nutritional value than white sugar because it looks and tastes organic.
But is it true?
On this week's blog, we are going to bust some myths, brown sugar vs white sugar.
Sugar: Brown versus White
The differences between the two sugars are the taste, the color, the texture, and the effect it has on cooking/baking.
Brown sugar has added nutrients because of molasses, but the nutrients are in such minuscule amounts that it is considered to be insignificant. Molasses is the dark brownish syrup gathered from the processing of raw sugars. The stickiness and the taste of commercial brown sugars are based on the amount of molasses added to it.
So the Brown sugar is not that healthier than white sugar, like what most people think. Brown and White sugar are considered to have the same healthiness.
The Benefits of Brown Sugars
Because of the molasses on brown sugars, it may contain certain minerals like calcium, iron, potassium, and magnesium which white sugars don't have. However, the minerals present are only in tiny amounts and do not have a real health benefit over white sugars.
The reason why brown is deemed better than white sugar is that it often gets mistaken as raw sugars, which is the more natural and healthier one. But both brown and white are likely the same concerning its nutritional value.
Raw sugar versus Brown sugar
Raw sugar is partially refined sugars, while brown sugar is white sugars mixed with the molasses. Both raw and brown may look the same, but they are substantially different.
Raw sugar is just unrefined and crystallized sugarcane or sugarbeet juices. It contains 96% sucrose and 4% plant minerals, and it is healthier than brown sugars because the molasses present is not entirely removed and extracted.
Brown sugar is often mistaken for raw because of the color. It is just white sugars mixed with molasses. The color, the taste, and the texture of brown sugars depend on how much molasses was added to it.
How to make Molasses?
Molasses is the dark, sweet, liquid byproduct made from the processing of sugarcane or sugarbeets. Molasses is usually used in baking, making rum, commercial brown sugars, tobacco, and as an additive to animal feed.
Molasses is made by crushing the sugarcanes or the sugarbeets to extract the juice. The juice that was extracted will then undergo the process of boiling and crystallization. Once the juice is crystallized, the syrup leftover is referred to as Molasses.
Molasses versus Sugars
So, is Molasses healthier than sugars? Not quite so. Molasses is still sugar. There are four kinds of Molasses, light, dark, blackstrap and sorghum molasses. The Blackstrap molasses has the least amount of sugars, but it also has the highest concentration of vitamins and minerals, specifically calcium, iron, and potassium.
Blackstrap molasses is healthier than sugars, but it can hardly be a sweetener because of its dark, strong, and bitter taste.
How are the sugars made?
Sugar is made from the juices of sugarcane and sugarbeets. It goes through the process of extraction, evaporation, and boiling to get the tiny crystals. The refining of white sugar is not so different with brown.
White sugar is refined sugars which means that it went through all the process thoroughly, while the brown sugar is partially refined (raw sugars) or it is white sugars mixed with molasses (commercial brown sugars).
The Healthy Alternatives to Sucrose
Sugar can be addictive, and as much as it can make any dish taste better, too much of it can be very unhealthy. It can be found in almost everything we eat, but there are alternatives if you want a healthier sweetener.
One of the healthiest alternatives that is easy to find in the market is raw honey. Raw honey is packed with amino acids, enzymes, antioxidants, iron, potassium, zinc, calcium, phosphorous, vitamin B6, and antimicrobial compounds that can strengthen the body, especially the digestive tract.
Stevia is another excellent alternative. Stevia is the natural, no-calorie sweetener, usually in powder or syrup form, extracted from a leaf of the South American shrub known as Stevia rebaudiana. Stevia is an ideal alternative for people who want to lose weight and have blood-sugar issues. Stevia is sweeter than sugar, so although it may be healthy, it is best to use it sparingly. A little goes a long way.
Artificial sweeteners have been a popular sugar alternative because it has little to no calories and is often sweeter than sugar. There are possible health benefits in switching to artificial sweeteners; one is that it does not add to tooth decay or cavities.
Artificial sweeteners are also highly beneficial to people with Diabetes because it isn't carbohydrates. Therefore, it doesn't raise blood sugar levels like sugar (but please consult your doctor or dietitian before using any artificial sweetener if you have diabetes).
There are many sugar substitutes available in the market. Although artificial sweeteners may be a good alternative, it also has possible health risks. Saccharin, the oldest sugar sweetener, is good for people with diabetes but research has shown that it could lead to weight gain because of the lack of calories.
Another artificial sweetener is Aspartame, a low-calorie sugar alternative. Research results show linkage of this artificial sweetener to breast cancer, leukemia, lymphoma, and migraines.
Phenylalanine is the key component of aspartame. People with phenylketonuria (PKU), a rare inherited condition wherein they cannot properly metabolize phenylalanine, should not consume aspartame.
Why we need sugar, but not too much
Your body needs carbohydrates to function. These carbohydrates are broken down into sugar in your body. The sugar is necessary for your body to produce energy to keep you alive and awake throughout the day. However, it is okay not to include added sugars or sugary foods in your diet for your body to make energy.
Sugar is also important to give or recover energy very quickly like during a marathon or while practicing a sport that requires a lot of energy.
It is also essential to be conscious and cautious about sugar-intake because it can pose real threats to health in the long run. Uncontrolled sugar-intake can lead to obesity, and serious diseases like diabetes and heart problems.
Brown Sugar vs White Sugar Researches and References
Pictures used for this article are from Wikimedia Commons
If you want to know more about sugar, take a look at some of our references below.
- Stevia Rebaudiana Sugar Alternative
- The Claim: Brown Sugar Is Healthier Than White Sugar
- Is Brown Sugar Better than White Sugar? You Will be Surprised!
- 8 Natural Substitutes for Sugar
- What are the alternatives to sugar and are they any good for us?
- Top 5 Sugar Substitutes
- Raw Brown and White Sugar
- Raw white and brown sugar
- Sugar Substitutes for Diabetes
- Artificial Sweeteners
Speaking about sugar, I prefer salty food.
Last, but not Least
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Thanks for reading, and if you wish, see you next week!
The Research and Media Team at Scotty's.
The views, ideas, and opinions expressed by the writers of Scotty's Media team do not necessarily reflect or represent the views, ideas, and opinions of the company, Scotty's Action Sports Network, Inc.