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While being brown may be healthier if you’re talking about bread or rice, it doesn’t really matter when it comes to sugar.
Yet again, product marketing has cast it’s spell on the unsuspecting public and fooled us into thinking that there is a difference, that brown, also called “raw” sugar, is somehow healthier.
So what is the difference? Well let’s first take a look at how sugar is produced.
Raw sugar is made by mashing sugar cane mixed with lime and water and squeezing out a sugary liquid called cane juice. This cane juice is then boiled, evaporating the water, producing crystals which are then spun in a centrifuge to separate them from the mixture.
These crystals, which are brown in color due to the presence of molasses are usually referred to as raw sugar. This raw sugar is then further refined, treating it with certain chemicals to remove the molasses and bleaching it to produce refined white sugar.
Now let’s take a look at how brown and raw sugar is made.
There are actually two ways in which brown or raw sugar can be produced. First is exactly the same as how white sugar is made, except the process stops at the raw sugar stage before it is bleached to make white sugar. The second process is, well, exactly the same as how white sugar is made, except after it is refined into white sugar, molasses is added back in to give it a brown color.
Both white and brown sugar are chemically the same substance; sucrose, a combination of glucose and fructose. When they are consumed, they are both broken down into their smallest components of glucose. There is no difference between the two.
Brown sugar actually contains slightly more calories than white sugar, 17 kcals versus 16 kcals per teaspoon, according to the Department of Agriculture .
While one might argue that raw sugar does contains more vitamins or minerals than white sugar, this is somewhat of a moot point as you would have to consume large quantities to realize any benefit. Eating large quantitates of any kind of sugar is not advised.
Simply put, sugar is sugar is sugar, whether it’s raw, refined, brown or white.