Brown sugar has many lovers. They swear by the spicy taste and refer to the many advantages of the sweetener. But is that true? Is brown sugar a healthy substitute for traditional white table sugar?
That brown sugar is a healthy substitute for white sugar seems clear to many. But if you take a closer look at the two sweeteners, you will find more similarities than differences.
What is brown sugar?
Brown sugar is obtained from sugar beet. To obtain sugar from it, the beet is cut into small pieces and boiled down. In the second step, the resulting syrup is processed further. It is dried and purified until small crystals form. This process is called “refining”. The product is brown sugar, which is characterized by a malty taste with a hint of caramel.
How is brown sugar different from white sugar?
There are more similarities between the two types of sugar than one might think, especially when it comes to the manufacturing process. Thus, brown sugar is simply an intermediate product of white sugar, which is the end product of refined sugar. This means that if the molasses is purified long enough, the brown sugar will eventually become white sugar. Because purification is not repeated as often, there are more molasses in the brown sugar.
Even if they look similar, brown sugar is not the same as cane sugar. These are two different products. Cane sugar is not made from sugar beet but sugar cane.
Brown sugar as a healthy substitute for table sugar?
As far as the ingredients are concerned, brown sugar does not differ significantly from white refined sugar. The differences in vitamins and minerals depend on the molasses content and are limited to a small amount. Both types of sugar consist of 95 percent sucrose, which is reflected in the number of calories: 100 grams of brown sugar contain 380 kilocalories, and white sugar has only 20 calories more.
Thus, brown sugar is not much healthier than its white counterpart, so excessive consumption increases the risk of tooth decay, obesity, and diabetes. In addition, brown sugar has the disadvantage that it spoils more quickly due to the higher water content. People who rely on the supposedly healthier brown sugar for health reasons should use another – healthier – alternative.
Alternatives to brown sugar
On average, every German consumes 82 grams of sugar a day. That’s too much. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a maximum of 25 grams of sugar per day. As part of a healthy diet, it’s a good idea to replace both white and brown sugar from time to time. But what alternatives are there? It depends on what your focus is.
If you’re looking for sweeteners with healthier ingredients, try honey, maple syrup, or coconut blossom syrup. These foods contain many other vitamins, minerals, and trace elements.
However, if you want to save calories or reduce your risk of illness and still not do without the sweet taste, the sweeteners stevia, allulose, and xylitol (birch sugar) are an ideal substitute for brown sugar. Because they contain neither calories nor do they increase blood sugar levels. In addition, unlike other sweeteners, they are considered harmless to health. However, if you don’t want to give up regular sugar entirely, brown sugar is a good substitute, as it contains at least slightly fewer calories and some more nutrients than white sugar.