Difference Between Brown Sugar and White Sugar

Edited by Diffzy | Updated on: October 11, 2023

       

Difference Between Brown Sugar and White Sugar

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Introduction

With different types of sugar available in the market, the common question arises “Which sugar to use?”, “Which sugar is good for health?”, “Which sugar should be preferred and when?” and the list seems to go on. Don’t worry, we have you covered, here, we will talk about both the sugar in detail with their differences from every aspect.

White sugar is granulated, or table sugar, made from sugarcane and has a neutral flavor used for general purposes in recipes.

The brown sugar is made from white sugar and molasses (the byproduct of sugar refining), giving sugar its brown color.

White Sugar vs Brown Sugar

Both used as a sweetener differ in terms of flavors, uses, and composition. White Sugar is formed using a natural process through sugarcane and does not use any sweetener, whereas brown sugar is formed using white sugar and molasses, which gives the sugar its brown color.

The choice between white sugar or brown sugar depends on the use and preference.

Difference Between White Sugar and Brown Sugar in Tabular Form

ColorWhite SugarBrown Sugar
CompositionMade from plain granulated sugar or sucroseMade by combining white sugar and molasses
FlavorIt is pure white.It consists of light to deep brown sugar
FlavourNeutral flavorMolasses flavor
Baking useIt provides neutral sweetnessProvides distinct flavours
CaloriesIt contains 385 calories per 100gIt contains 380 calories per 100g
MoistureDryMoist
TypesGranulated sugar, Powdered Sugar, Caster SugarLight brown, Dark brown, Turbinado

What is White Sugar?

Granulated sugar or white sugar is the most used type of sugar. It is made from sugar cane or sugar beet plant, which is stored in the roots of the plants. Through the refining process, different types of white sugar can be made. The juice is extracted, purified, filtered, and crystallized to make sugar. It contains natural sweeteners and is used in recipes for desserts, beverages, and sauces, and does not require any extra flavor to be added. White sugar contains more calories than brown sugar; hence, brown sugar should be preferred from a health perspective.

Features of White Sugar

  1. Composition: It’s composed of pure sucrose crystals and made naturally from sugar cane through refining and crystallization processes.
  2. Flavor: It has a neutral sweetener.
  3. Color: It is pure white color.
  4. Moisture and texture: It is dry and has a crisp texture.
  5. Caramelization: It does not get easily caramelized due to the absence of molasses.
  6. Storage: It is stored in a cool, dry place.

Types of White Sugar

  1. Granulated Sugar: This is simply sugar, which is the most used type of sugar in households. It consists of fine, refined crystals that work as natural sweeteners in cooking and baking.
  2. Caster Sugar: Caster sugar or superfine sugar has small crystals than granulated sugar, which dissolves quickly.
  3. Powdered Sugar: Powdered Sugar is also known as Confectioners' sugar or icing sugar, which is used for icing, frosting, and desserts because of its powdered-like texture.
  4. Fruit Sugar: As the name suggests, it is made from fruit-based sources that have low glycemic index, and is used as a substitute for sugar for diabetic people.
  5. Instant Dissolving Sugar: It is designed specifically for iced tea etc. to dissolve quickly.

Uses

White sugar, which is the most used and common ingredient, has many uses. Some are listed below:

  • Baking: The main ingredient in cake, pastries, and brownies is sugar, which provides sweetness, browning, and caramelization.
  • Desserts: The sweet flavor in custard pudding is due to the presence of white sugar.
  • Beverages: Since coffee and tea are not naturally sweet, sugar added into hot coffee, tea, and iced tea gives the beverage a sweet texture.
  • Preserving: The most common use of sugar is preservation. It is added to jam jelly and fruits to enhance the flavor.
  • Sauces: Added sugar in sauces provides a sweetness that enhances the flavor

Health Effect

The rise of white sugar has tremendously increased with every product we use. Today, we consume sugar in high amounts in the form of beverages, desserts, fruits, snacks, and processed food. This increase in consumption has led to an increase in diseases and ailments.

  • Type-2 Diabetes: The most common disease seen in children and adults is type 2 diabetes. The consumption of a high amount of sugar in the blood level, leading to insulin resistance, where cells become less responsive to insulin.
  • Weight Gain: Since white sugar contains a high number of calories, it contributes to increased weight. Weight gain is a major problem among teenagers, leading to many diseases.
  • Heart Attack: Today, the common disease through which a person dies is a heart attack. High levels of sugar in the blood cause high blood pressure and inflammation.
  • Dental Health: Bacteria present in the mouth feed on sugar, which becomes a major reason for tooth decay and cavities.

A balanced diet is a must while consuming sugar as it only leads to bad health and diseases.

Alternatives

We want to consume sweets as it gives a sweet flavor to the mouth, but white sugar is dangerous to use and brings disease with it. There are some alternatives to white sugar which are healthier, and some are given below:

  • Honey: The most common and healthy alternative is honey, which is found naturally and contains vitamins and minerals in it.
  • Stevia: Derived from the stevia plant, it is a good alternative to sugar for diabetic people as it contains no calories and has less impact on blood levels.
  • Coconut Sugar: This comes from the nectar of the coconut plant. It does not increase blood sugar and has minerals like zinc, iron, and calcium.
  • Maple Syrup: Contains minerals and antioxidants, which give the best nutritional values derived from the maple tree.

What is Brown Sugar?

Brown sugar is made by combining white sugar with molasses (giving brown colour to the sugar). Molasses is a byproduct of the sugar refining process, which is rich in minerals and antioxidants. The amount of molasses added to white sugar can vary, which gives different colors and produces different types of brown sugar. Depending upon the molasses added, it can be light brown sugar or dark brown sugar. Due to less molasses in light brown sugar, it has a mild flavor whereas due to the presence of more molasses in dark brown sugar, it has a stronger flavor.

Features of Brown Sugar

  1. Composition: It is made by combiningg molasses into white sugar which gives sugar its colour, texture, and moisture.
  2. Flavor: The presence of molasses produces a mild to stronger flavour in brown sugar.
  3. Color: The color ranges from light brown to dark brown.
  4. Moisture and Texture: It contains moisture due to the presence of molasses.
  5. Caramelization: It does get easily caramelized due to the presence of molasses.
  6. Storage: It is stored in a cool, dry place.

Types of Brown Sugar

  1. Light Brown Sugar: This is the most used type of sugar in households. It consists of a mild flavour due to the presence of less molasses and is suitable for baking and sauces.
  2. Dark Brown Sugar: It has a stronger flavor due to the presence of more molasses. It is used in recipes where a dark colour product is required like bread or dark chocolates.
  3. Demerara Sugar: It's raw cane sugar which has light brown sugar. It gives crunch and caramel flavor and is often used in cookies.
  4. Turbinado Sugar: Turbinado sugar has large crystals and is mostly used as a sweetener in beverages.
  5. Muscovado sugar: It is unrefined brown sugar that contains a high number of molasses to give a sticky texture.

Uses of Brown Sugar

Brown sugar is often used as a sweetener in recipes and has wide applications uses. Some are listed below:

  • Baking: The main ingredient in cake, pastries, and brownies is sugar, which provides sweetness, browning, and caramelization. The brown sugar adds chewiness to cookies, moisture in cakes, and a fudgy texture to brownies.
  • Desserts: Since brown sugar gives a crisp texture, it is used in cookies or to make toppings.
  • Beverages: Since coffee and tea are not naturally sweet, sugar added into hot coffee, tea, and iced tea gives the beverage a sweet texture.
  • Preserving: The most common use of sugar is preservation. It is added to jam jelly and fruits to enhance the flavor.
  • Sauces: Added sugar in sauces provides a sweetness that enhances the flavor and is the key ingredient to barbecue sauces.
  • Dressing: Brown sugar added in salads gives a sweet flavor to balance acidity

The Process of Making Brown Sugar

Brown sugar can easily be made at home with just two ingredients-white sugar and molasses.

  • In a bowl, add white sugar and molasses (the amount of molasses depends on the type of brown sugar needed).
  • Add molasses gradually to the bowl, starting with a small quantity.
  • Mix well white sugar and molasses with a fork and spoon until mixed thoroughly.
  • Adjust the consistency. If the mixture is too moist, add more sugar, or if it's too dry, add more molasses.
  • Let the mixture rest overnight.
  • After leaving it overnight, transfer the mixture to an airtight container.

Health Effect

Brown sugar was used as an alternative to white sugar, but still, both are sources of added sugar. This increase in consumption has led to an increase in diseases and ailments.

  • Caloric content: Brown sugar contains calories that are bad for health. One teaspoon contains around 17 calories.
  • Nutric content: Due to the presence of molasses in brown sugar, the nutrient content in it is less.
  • Blood sugar: Brown sugar contains a lower glycemic index than white sugar, and hence, the impact on blood level is low.
  • Dental Health: Bacteria present in the mouth feed on sugar, which becomes a major reason for tooth decay and cavities.

A balanced diet is a must while consuming sugar as it only leads to bad health and diseases.

Alternatives

We want to consume sweets as they gives a sweet flavor to the mouth, but brown sugar is also dangerous to use and brings disease with it. There are some alternatives to brown sugar which are healthier, and some are given below:

  • Honey: The most common and healthy alternative is honey, which is found naturally and contains vitamins and minerals in it.
  • Stevia: Derived from the stevia plant, it is a good alternative to sugar for diabetic people as it contains no calories and has less impact on blood levels.
  • Coconut Sugar: This comes from the nectar of the coconut plant. It does not increase blood sugar and has minerals like zinc, iron, and calcium.
  • Maple Syrup: Contains minerals and antioxidants, which give the best nutritional values derived from the maple tree.

Main Difference Between White Sugar and Brown Sugar in Points

  • White sugar is made purely from sugarcane or sugar beet juice, whereas brown sugar is made by adding molasses to white sugar.
  • White sugar has a pure white color, and brown sugar has a brown color due to the presence of molasses.
  • White sugar has a high glycemic index, and brown sugar has a low glycemic index.
  • White sugar is generally dry, but due to the presence of molasses, brown sugar is moist.
  • The flavor of white sugar is neutral, and brown sugar has a caramel-like flavor.

Conclusion

Both white sugar and brown sugar are forms of added sugar, and their consumption can lead to diseases and ailments. We need to intake the sugar in the desired amount with a balanced diet. Excessive consumption of sugar can lead to heart disease, dental issues, high blood pressure, and liver problems. The use of both sugars depends on the recipe and the flavor we want to give; brown sugar is used where moisture is needed, whereas white sugar is used in recipes where neutral sweetness is preferred.

References

  • https://www.finedininglovers.com/article/different-types-sugar-how-use?amp
  • https://bakestarters.com/blogs/education/12-healthier-white-sugar-substitutes
  • https://www.netmeds.com/health-library/post/is-brown-sugar-healthier-than-white-sugar-learn-about-health-benefits-uses-recipe-and-side-effects#:~:text=Brown%20sugar%20being%20low%20on,process%2C%20and%20sustain%20energy%20levels.

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"Difference Between Brown Sugar and White Sugar." Diffzy.com, 2024. Mon. 13 May. 2024. <https://www.diffzy.com/article/difference-between-brown-sugar-and-white-sugar>.



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