Sugar is a natural sweetener that has been a staple element in the diet since times immemorial. In recent times, most health-conscious individuals have started to give up on white sugar and switch over to brown sugar as a healthy choice. A lot has been hyped about the adverse effects of consuming excess amounts of white sugar and all these negative impacts have made its closer associate brown sugar as a better choice and healthy.
What Is Brown Sugar?
Brown sugar is a type of sugar that holds a brown colour owing to the presence of molasses. It can be made either commercially or naturally. Most brown sugar contains about 5% of molasses by weight. It has a soft consistency and toasted flavour and tends to be sweeter than regular sugar.
Is brown sugar really a better alternative than white sugar? Read this article to know how brown sugar is processed, its health benefits and how different it is from the white version.
The first stage of manufacturing is quite similar for both brown and white sugar. The sugarcane juice is extracted, purified, and heated well to form a thick syrup called molasses that crystallizes after some point. Then the crystalized sugar is centrifuged to obtain raw sugar crystals. The final stage of processing is different for white and brown sugar, where white sugar is further processed, and the excess molasses is removed to make small crystals. Later it’s run through a filtration machine that’s made with bone char to form white sugar. While for making brown sugar, varying amounts of molasses is added to the refined white sugar. Whole unrefined brown sugar goes through minimal processing than white sugar, thereby letting it retain some amount of molasses and natural colour
The fact is most brown sugar is a blend of white sugar and molasses, which is responsible for its slightly higher nutritional content and darker colour. The key nutritional difference between the two is that brown sugar has some trace amounts of calcium, iron, zinc, copper, phosphorus, and potassium that is devoid of white sugar. Also, brown sugar also contains fewer calories than white, however, the difference is minimal. A teaspoon of brown sugar offers 15 calories, while the same amount of white sugar provides 16.3 calories.
Flavour And Colour Profiles
The primary differences between white and brown sugar are their taste and colour. Using brown sugar instead of white sugar in cuisines will affect the colour of the foods, rendering a light caramel or brown hue. In contrast baking with white sugar will give a light-coloured final product.
Brown and white sugar are known to have a distinct flavour profile. Brown sugar has an intense, caramel or toffee-like taste owing to the presence of ample amounts of molasses. Thus, it is a preferred choice of sweetener while baking cakes, cookies, and dry fruit cakes.
While white sugar is much sweeter, and you can use a minimal amount to attain the required taste. Furthermore, its’ neutral taste makes it a versatile element in baking sponge cakes, pastries, and candies.
Brown Sugar Health Benefits
Relieves Menstrual Cramps
Brown sugar has been largely used in traditional medicine to ease menstrual discomfort. The richness of potassium in brown sugar helps to combat muscle cramps. All you have to do is have a refreshing tea made with brown sugar and ginger to alleviate abdominal cramps and soothe the pain.
Boosts Skin Health
Brown sugar is imbued with skin-friendly nutrients such as vitamin B6, niacin, and pantothenic acid that helps to rejuvenate and repair skin cells. Brown sugar scrubs work well to clear dead skin cells, grime and unclog pores thereby making the skin blemish-free and glowing.
Supports Weight Loss
If you're trying to shed surplus kilos, then you should keep a check on calories. Brown sugar is low in calories is known to trigger the metabolism, keep you satiated and control hunger pangs which could help in weight loss efforts.
Brown sugar supports aid common digestive issues. The richness of molasses helps to control flatulence and indigestion. Furthermore, if you are constipated drinking a glass of warm water with ginger and brown sugar support to regularise bowel movements.
Potent anti-allergic effects of brown sugar may help to suppress the symptoms associated with asthma. Mix brown sugar in warm water and drink this daily to improve your respiratory health.
Brown sugar Vs Jaggery
The most prominent difference between brown sugar and jaggery is the way these natural sweeteners are processed. Brown sugar is made by blending refined sugar with a controlled amount of molasses. Brown sugar offers a toffee-like flavour and colour.
On the other hand, jaggery is made using sugarcane juice or palm sap, where the juice is reduced to a thick brown paste before setting in moulds to harden. The key flavours of jaggery are fruity, earthy, and caramel.
Both sugars have almost the same calorie values, but jaggery has a notable amount of iron and other vital minerals. While brown sugar has a minimal amount of certain minerals like calcium, potassium, iron and magnesium and vitamins such as B6 and pantothenic acid. Thus, making it nutritious than refined white sugar.
Jaggery is relatively less sweet than brown sugar, as it is loaded with minerals, and its taste is slightly different from brown sugar. Therefore, you need to add more jaggery to attain the same level of sweetness.
Is Brown Sugar Better Than White Sugar?
Well, whether you prefer brown over white sugar goes down to individual preference, as taste and colour are the major difference between the two. Though brown sugar contains more minerals than white ones, the amount of these minerals is so minimal that they won’t offer any remarkable wellness incentives.
Remember, sugar is believed to be one of the contributing factors for obesity epidemic and the main cause of chronic diseases including type 2 diabetes and heart diseases. For health reasons, it’s recommended not to take more than 5-10% of daily calories from added sugar. Moreover, this should be limited even more for overall well-being.
Moderation is the key mantra for good health status; thus, all types of sugar should be used in a minimal amount in a healthy meal plan.
Is Brown Sugar Same As Cane Sugar?
Cane sugar is obtained from cane juice which undergoes boiling and filtration process, but still, retain its natural moisture and molasses and in its rawest form and is considered organic. While brown sugar goes through the same method, the difference is it’s being refined after filtration until it crystallizes and has a little amount of molasses rendering brown colour.
Cane sugar has a mild floral or fruity aroma owing to the presence of minerals and molasses. On the other hand, light brown sugar has a more toffee-like taste, it’s mild and dark brown sugar is more caramel-like with a rich molasses flavour.
White and brown sugar can be used in a spectrum of cooking and baking delights in varied ways. At times they are interchangeable, doing so may alter the colour, flavour, and texture of the product. The molasses in brown sugar holds the moisture, so using it while baking goods to get a much softer yet denser final product.
When white sugar is used for baking cookies it will rise to a greater extent, letting more air into the dough and resulting in a fluffier texture. Thus, white sugar is generally used in baking a wide range of baked stuff that need proper rising, like meringues, mousses, souffles and many more. While brown sugar is used for baking dense baked products such as bread and rich cookies.
Brown sugar is used widely in desserts and baked products that offer a unique flavour and taste. It is used as an alternative to maple syrup in many dishes as well. Brown sugar caramelizes much better than white sugar and therefore it is preferred over the white version.
A delectable and irresistible cake with a rich aroma of brown sugar, the creamy texture of coconut and the intense flavour of cocoa is a perfect accompaniment to tea.
1 ½ cups refined flour
¾ tsp baking powder
¾ cup melted butter
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ cup condensed milk
¾ cup milk
½ cup desiccated coconut
1 tsp vanilla essence
Sieve the flour with baking powder and keep it aside
In a bowl add butter and brown sugar, blend it well until light and fluffy.
Add the condensed milk and mix well.
Then add the milk, coconut, cocoa powder, and vanilla essence and give a nice stir.
Now add the flour mixture and fold in gently.
Pour into a greased cake tin and bake in a pre-heated oven at 180* C for 25-30 minutes, until the cake is golden brown in colour, or a knife inserted in the cake comes out clean.
Serve with hot tea.
Brown sugar being low on calories and with fair amounts of minerals and vitamins supports boost metabolism, improve the digestion process, and sustain energy levels. Coconut with ample amounts of healthy fats augments heart health and skin health. Cocoa powder laden with antioxidants and essential nutrients optimises overall health and well-being.
Brown sugar when consumed in limited quantity is safe and well-tolerated by most healthy adults. However, if consumed in large amounts may increase the risk of weight gain, yeast infections and diabetes.
Brown sugar is one of the common varieties of sugar, they are processed differently resulting in unique taste, colour and offer varied culinary uses. Brown sugar contains slightly more minerals than white sugar, thus may be beneficial for health when taken in moderate amounts.