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Brown sugar clumps because it contains more moisture than white sugar

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If you are a health-conscious person, chances are that you take your diet very seriously. Everything you eat or buy at the grocery store is bought knowing the health benefits of each item. Every time you eat out, your portions are measured and choices deliberate.

Chances are you have picked up many healthy habits along the way and make sure you abide by them rigorously. Is giving up on white sugar and switching to brown sugar one of these 'healthy choices'?

A lot has been said and written about the adverse effects of consuming white sugar on a regular basis. All this negative publicity has made its darker cousin -- brown sugar -- look so much better in comparison. However, is there really a difference between the two and is brown sugar, in fact, a better alternative?

Nutritionist Dr Roopika Datta from Dwarka, said, "Both white sugar and brown sugar are similar, nutritionally and also calorie-wise. The only difference lies in the flavour, colour and the process these both go through." Basically, brown sugar is white sugar with molasses and is considered as raw sugar because it goes through lesser chemical processing as compared to white sugar.

Nutritional benefits

According to Healthline, a health website, white and brown sugar contains similar calories. Brown sugar contains 380 calories per 100 grams (g), while white sugar contains 385 calories per 100g.

Brown sugar contains more calcium than white sugar, with 83 milligrams (mg) per 100 g compared to 1 mg per 100g of white sugar. Equally, other minerals, such as iron, are slightly higher in brown sugar.

However, per teaspoon, the tiny differences in these mineral amounts are not worthy of consideration, as sugar is not a nutrient-dense food. People refer to foods such as these as “empty calories.”

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Different types and their uses

White sugar types

Granulated sugar: People typically use granulated sugar in their sugar bowls for hot drinks or baking.

Superfine or caster sugar: This type of sugar has smaller crystals, making it helpful in preparing delicate desserts such as mousse or puddings.

Confectioners or powdered sugar: This fine, granulated sugar comes from sugar that manufacturers grind and sift. People use it in sweets, icing, and whipping cream.

Fruit sugar: Smaller, more uniform crystals comprise fruit sugar, making it more suitable for dry mixes, pudding desserts, and powdered drinks.

Read | Twisted iced tea recipes to keep the summer heat away

Brown sugar types

Brown sugar clumps because it contains more moisture than white sugar. This makes it helpful in recipes requiring a moist and chewy texture.

Light brown sugar: This is suitable for baked goods and sauces.

Dark brown sugar: Features a deeper colour than standard brown sugar. In addition, the molasses flavour makes it suitable for use in gingerbread recipes, baked beans, and barbecued foods.

Muscovado sugar: This is unrefined cane sugar that still contains its natural molasses. As a result, the crystals are slightly coarser and stickier than regular brown sugar, and people can use them in recipes that require a strong molasses flavour.

Turbinado sugar: Features a blond colour and a mild flavour. Manufacturers only partially process turbinado sugar, which they also call Demerara or raw cane sugar. It has larger crystals than brown sugar and is more suited to streusel toppings than baking.

Dr Datta added, “Brown sugar may be better than white sugar for baking recipes that call for a richer flavour or a more moist and chewy texture. In these cases, muscovado sugar, with its higher molasses content, has the most pronounced flavour.”

Replacing sugar with brown sugar

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Brown sugar is used in desserts and baked goods to give them more flavour. Brown sugar can be a replacement for sugar in coffee. Due to the molasses in the coffee, it gives a very rich flavour.

  1. Brown sugar is a very common ingredient in baking. It is used as a sweetener that provides a slight caramel taste to the baked good. It can be used in cakes, puddings and even pies as it provides a more moist result. A few baked goods with brown sugar are chocolate cookies and muffins.
  2. Powdered brown sugar can be put over oatmeal and cereals to enhance their taste while adding sweetness to them. Muesli balls are a combination of healthy cereal and brown sugar combined to form a delicious snack.
  3. Brown sugar is also used to provide a flavour balance to the smoky barbecue sauce.
  4. Many dressings and vinaigrettes for salads use brown sugar as one of their ingredients. It gives a very pleasant sweetness to a French salad dressing. Combine this dressing with a few salad leaves, onions and some protein and your delicious salad will be ready.
  5. A sweet, smooth rich glaze can be made with brown sugar. The molasses complements not only the baked goods like pies but this glaze tastes brilliant over meats too.
  6. For a richer and better caramel sauce use brown sugar to make it. This sauce is poured over Banoffee pie.

Don't fall for gimmicks! While both may have gone through slightly different processes, it doesn't mean they are different; or that one is better than the other from a health perspective. So, even if you are adding brown sugar to your recipe, you are adding the same amount of calories that you would have added by including white sugar. 

Moderation is the key; consuming white sugar and brown sugar in less quantity will do no harm.

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