Nowadays, it’s hard to find foods that don’t contain some sort of sugar. We use it to sweeten our cookies, cupcakes, brownies, and just about anything else you can think of! Brown sugar is often thought of as a better substitute for white granulated sugar due to it having slightly less calories, but is brown sugar really the healthier option? We did a little digging around to get you the Skinny on brown sugar!
Many people choose brown sugar believing that much like brown rice, the color means that it’s the healthier option. However, did you know that brown sugar gets its brown hue from molasses? According to Healthy Eating, the color of brown sugar indicates the molasses content within the product. For example, “light” brown sugar contains 3.5% molasses, “dark” brown sugar contains 6.5% molasses, and “regular” brown sugar contains up to 10% molasses.
Like white sugar, brown sugar also varies by its origin of sugar beet or sugar cane plants. Few can taste a difference between sugar from cane and beet plants, however, the difference lies in the processing of each. Cane plants are processed in a mill. The stalks are squeezed to extract sugar juice, which is cleaned, boiled, and crystallized.
Brown sugar from sugar beets undergoes this same process, however additional refining steps are added in order to remove the molasses. The product is centrifuged (separates densities), to essentially spin the molasses out, and is then flushed with hot water. After refining, the molasses is added back to the sugar. Therefore, brown sugar from sugar cane plants is less refined than brown sugar from sugar beets.
When it comes down to it, regardless of the brown sugar processing technique, both types have the same nutritional content. There are no proteins, fats, or vitamins in brown sugar—just 100% sucrose. The molasses in brown sugar also contains a number of minerals, which include calcium, potassium, magnesium, and iron.
So if you’re trying hard to decide which to include in your next batch of goodies, white and brown sugar, it’s really all about personal preference. You may enjoy brown sugar because of its rich taste, or you may prefer white sugar for its super-sweet flavor. Either way, they’re both sugar and can be detrimental to your body if you consume it excessively. Our recommendation of course is to skip the sugar altogether in favor of Stevia; however, if you have to have the sugar, pick the flavor that you and your family like the best.