Who doesn’t love sugary delights? Sugar is a quintessential part of everybody’s lives however they are often under the heat. Sugars, especially the white sugar which we have known all our lives, are often labelled as unhealthy and bad. Since it was considered bad for health, its toughest contender, brown sugar came to light which is believed to be better than white sugar. So much so that we all rushed to replace white sugar with brown.
Now people are ditching sugar altogether and there is a new trend. People have started migrating towards the alternatives like agave nectar, and manuka honey etc sugar to ditch them completely not exactly knowing whether they are actually good or bad. However, are sugars really unhealthy? Or is one type of sugar better than the other?
How white sugar is different from brown sugar and which one is the healthier and better option for you, this article covers all!
What Is White Sugar?
White sugar is made from the leaves of a sugar cane or sugar beet plant. The cane juice is extracted from the stalks or roots of these plants which are further processed. The process includes purification, filtration and crystallization.
During the refining process, moisture, minerals, and compounds that give sugars their colour are removed, and white refined sugar is formed. The molasses which is present in the compound is removed thus, the sugar gets its colour.
What Is Brown Sugar?
Similar to white sugar, the process of making brown sugar is fairly the same. But, in the case of brown sugar, molasses is present in it which gives a light brown colour. The varying amount of molasses determines the intensity of browns in brown sugar.
Brown sugar and white sugar are made up of pretty much the same thing. But it is assumed that brown sugar is healthier than white sugar. But, they both have almost the same calorie content.
Brown Sugar contains only 0.25 fewer calories than its counterpart, which is negligible. For instance, 1 teaspoon (5gm) of both brown sugar and white sugar will have 20 calories.
In case of nutritional value, brown sugar has a slight upper hand over white sugar. Although they are equally high in carbohydrates there are some traces of micronutrients present in brown sugars. They include iron, calcium, zinc, copper, potassium, phosphorus, and vitamin B-6. So, more or less, they are similar in nutritional profile.
But, these micronutrients are insignificant amounts. Therefore, it’s not a good source of any vitamins or minerals. Brown sugar also contains slightly fewer calories than white sugar, yet the difference is minimal. Aside from these minor differences, they are nutritionally fairly similar. Their main differences are their taste and colour.
Health Benefits and Risks of White Sugar
1. Provides an immense burst of energy
White sugar is a type of carbohydrate that provides energy to the body. The body breaks down sugar into glucose that can be readily used for energy and to carry out various functions.
2. Improve brain functioning
Glucose is the source of fuel for the brain. The brain is the most energy-demanding organ of the body, it requires a regular supply of glucose and white sugar can fulfil the requirements. Brain signals and control the functioning of the body. White sugar in controlled quantities can improve brain functioning.
3. Elevate Mood
Psychologically, sugar makes a person happy. Furthermore, sugar activates the pleasure point of our brain and causes a rush of dopamine. Thus, instantly lifting your mood.
1. Increase the chances of heart diseases
Excess consumption of white sugar leads to higher levels of LDL cholesterol. It is also known as bad cholesterol that accumulates and latches to the walls of arteries. This accumulation causes a blockage which leads to a heart attack or a stroke.
A diet high in added sugar is rich in fructose and thus increases hunger pangs in people. Excessive fructose consumption causes resistance to leptin which regulates hunger and leads to obesity.
3. Hormonal Imbalance
Sugars can cause an imbalance in the hormone. Excessive intake of sugar can increase the blood glucose levels in the body and push your pancreas to release more insulin. Excessive insulin production impacts the ovaries and produces more androgen hormones, such as testosterone. It is evident that sugar can disrupt hormones in the body.
Sugar is known to reduce the quality of sleep. Sugar can disrupt your sleep, which is why it is advised not to consume sugar before hitting the bed. Proper sleep is also essential for the body’s physical restoration and sugar is a culprit that hinders the process.
Health Benefits and Risks of Brown Sugar
Benefits Of Brown Sugar:
1. Aids weight loss
It is known by now that brown sugar has fewer calories than white sugar. The molasses in brown sugar is known to boost metabolism. It also has other micronutrients. So, you can say that brown sugar helps in losing weight to some extends.
2. Relieves from menstrual cramps
Some cultures use brown sugar as a home remedy for easing period cramps. Just boil some water and add a tsp of brown sugar with crushed ginger and tea leaves to soothe the pain.
1. Irregular heartbeat
A sugary meal can increase your heart rate and make you uneasy. If you have mildly high blood sugar, your symptoms can be serious like palpitation, increased thirst, fatigue, etc. Brown sugar can be the cause of irregular heartbeat.
2. Elevate blood sugar levels
Though brown sugar has lesser calorie content, it can affect your blood sugar levels similarly to white sugar because they are made up of the same products. This is very risky for people with diabetes,
Excessive sugar intake stimulates the production of free fatty acids in the liver. When the body digests these fatty acids, it causes inflammation. Poor dietary choices like consumption of excess sugar cause muscle and joint inflammation in the body.
4. Weaken Bones
Brown Sugar increases the chances of osteoporosis and impairs the formation of bones by reducing osteoblast proliferation.
More nutritious alternatives to sugar
According to the CDC reports, people in the United States are generally eating too much-added sugar. However, both white and brown sugars are not a nutritious addition to the diet. Therefore, it is recommended that the amount of added sugars should be limited. This includes avoiding added sugars in juices, syrups and other foods.
More nutritious alternatives that someone could consider using in foods, drinks, and recipes include the following:
- mashed fruits in baking, such as bananas or applesauce
Our Final Thoughts
Choosing between white sugar and brown sugar is completely on your preference. Even though brown sugar contains some micronutrients but they are present in very small and negligible quantities. Aside from that, both the sugars are pretty much the same and none of them is superior to the other one!