White Sugar Vs. Brown Sugar

White Sugar Vs. Brown Sugar: In What Respects Do They Differ?

What is the difference between white sugar and brown sugar? Which one is best for baking? Which is more healthy? Let us find out.
NutriNeat Staff
Last Updated: Jun 3, 2018
Sugar comes in different types, and white sugar is the most common form. However, brown sugar is claimed to be more nutritious and healthy. What is the difference between white sugar and brown sugar? Of course they differ in color. Even the texture and flavor are slightly different.
Raw Sugar, Brown Sugar, and White Sugar
So white sugar is the regular one that is commonly used. It is derived from sugarcane, which is pressed and mixed with lime, to achieve the desired pH level, and for precipitating impurities. The resultant sugarcane juice is reduced through evaporation, and is passed through a centrifuge, to form crystals. These sugar crystals are brown in color, and are referred to as raw sugar. This is the natural brown sugar with a considerable amount of molasses, which is responsible for the brown color. This sugar is devoid of additives, like dyes and chemicals. This natural brown sugar is sold in the market, and a classic example for this type is Demerara sugar.
This raw sugar is subjected to bleaching with chemicals, like sulfur dioxide. After bleaching, sugar is treated with phosphoric acid and calcium hydroxide, so as to remove impurities. The next step is to filter and crystallize the sugar, which is dried before packing. The resultant product is white sugar, that is the commonly used form of sugar. Nowadays, brown sugar is prepared with white sugar, by adding molasses. This method is mostly adopted, as it reduces manufacturing costs. Another advantage with this method is that the ratio of molasses in brown sugar can be controlled easily.
There are two versions of brown sugar. One is the natural brown sugar, which is otherwise known as raw sugar. While raw sugar is a semi refined version, the other type (made by adding molasses to white sugar) is the fully refined one. White sugar is available in different forms ranging from fine powder to granules of different sizes. Brown sugar is also available in light (3.5% molasses) and dark (6.5% molasses) versions.
How Do They Differ
  • Color: Basically, white and brown sugar differ in color. Varying shades of brown are seen in different types of brown sugar.
  • Flavor: Brown sugar is sweeter with a rich taste, whereas white sugar lacks any such flavor.
  • Texture: White sugar is usually available as grains, that are dry and free-flowing, but brown sugar is soft, and the granules tend to clump together.
  • Calorific Value: If you compare both these sugars by weight, then brown sugar will have a low calorific value, as it has more water content. If you compare by volume, white sugar will have less calories than brown sugar crystals, which are found to be densely packed.
  • Mineral Content: Presence of molasses makes brown sugar higher in mineral content. However, this is applicable for natural brown sugar, and not the one prepared from white sugar.
As far as the health aspects are concerned, natural brown sugar can be considered superior. This sugar is also found to be free of chemicals, and has a natural aroma of sugarcane.
Best Sugar for Baking: With different sugar types, you may find it difficult to choose the right one for baking. The golden rule is that you have to use the one that is asked for in the particular recipe. If you substitute white sugar with the brown version in baking, the resultant product will be more moist and sweeter, with a mild butterscotch flavor. So brown sugar may alter the flavor, texture, and color of the dish. If you like the altered flavor, well and good. Otherwise, refrain from using brown sugar instead of white sugar. Otherwise, you may use white sugar or some other brown sugar substitute.
To conclude, you may use any of the two, as per your choice and requirement. As far as the nutritional and health aspects are concerned, natural brown sugar can be beneficial. For cooking, use the one that is given in the recipe.