Is Raw Sugar Healthier than White or Brown Sugar?

You may have seen raw sugar (or turbinado sugar) being served at coffee shops or sold in grocery stores. Some brands claim that raw sugar is more natural and beneficial than white or brown sugar. So what’s the difference?

Raw sugar:

  • Is processed by boiling the cane juice only once to remove some molasses
  • Contains trace amounts of micronutrients (calcium, iron, potassium and antioxidants)
  • Has a caramel flavour, and are golden brown crystals
  • Is more expensive (2-3 times the price of white sugar)

Similarities between the 3 sugars:

  • Similar nutrient profile per tsp: 16 calories, 4g carbs [1]
  • Per 1 tsp, all 3 sugars do not provide even 1% of recommended daily intakes of calcium, iron or potassium, nor has a significant amount of antioxidants
  • All 3 are sucrose and are processed from sugarcane / sugar beet [2]
  • All 3 are added sugars that can raise blood sugars 😦

So although raw sugar has trace amounts of minerals and antioxidants, you would have to have cups and cups of raw sugar to get the same amount of minerals and antioxidants from nutritious foods like bananas (potassium), spinach (iron), milk (calcium) or blackberries (antioxidants) [1]! So if you choose to have raw sugar, consider it for its flavour more than it’s nutrition!

Bottom Line

To summarize limiting added sugars is part of a healthy diet, whether that’s white, brown or raw sugar!


Until next time,

Almas-Sadaf Shaikh, PMDip, RD


*Please be aware that these are general guidelines. Nutrition and intake varies by age, sex, height, activity, being pregnant or breastfeeding, and medical conditions. For more information or to sit with one of our dietitians for an individualised nutrition counselling session, please contact us at amananutrition@gmail.com or visit our Contact Us page to book your first appointment.

References:

[1] FoodData Central. (n.d.). Retrieved December 4, 2019, from https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/.

[2] Thalheimer, J. C. (2015, September). Added Sugars and Heart Health. Today’s Dietitian, 17(9), 38.

Photocredit: Mother Jones

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