White or brown sugar?

azucar blanco o mascavo

Many people ask me about the differences between refined sugar ( white ) and brown. Most think that brown sugar is healthier than refined. Some think that brown helps to slim.

Let’s see how far we can confirm these perceptions.


Brown sugar is obtained directly from the concentrated juice extracted from sugarcane.

White sugar is further refined to remove almost all the impurities it may have.


Brown sugar avoids the use of chemical additives for bleaching and clarifying. Although most of these additives are eliminated during the crystallization we always have the question of how much is left in the final product.
Brown sugar keeps impurities formed during the thermal process (burned). Any burned food has thousands of compounds harmful to our health.


Refined sugar is a totally empty calorie (only calories with little or nothing of other nutrients) . The use of empty calories is responsible for most modern non-communicable diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases, osteoporosis, anemia, constipation and many other degenerative diseases.

Being less refined brown sugar retains more nutrients from sugar cane. The question is whether this higher nutrient content justifies the consumption of brown sugar as a substitute for refined sugar.

In the next table we see the differences in nutrient content per 100 g.

Composition/   100 g Refined  Brown
Calories   (Kcal) 387 376
Carbohydrates   (g) 99,9 97,33
Vitamin   B1 (mg) 0 0,01
Vitamin   B2 (mg) 0,02 0,01
Vitamin   B6 (mg) 0 0,03
Calcium   (mg) 1 85
Magnesium   (mg) 0 29
Cooper   (mg) 0,04 0,3
Phosphorus   (mg) 2 22
Potassium   (mg) 2 346
Source:   www.diabetes.org.br/perguntas-e-respostas/109-acucar-mascavo

We can see that in fact brown sugar has more nutrients. In particular calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium.
Using the concept of Nutritional Value (www.NutriOptimus.com) we see that goes from zero for refined sugar to only 0.1 for brown sugar.

So, brown sugar is a food that we have to restrict given its very low nutritional value.

As we see in the table, the carbohydrate content of brown sugar is practically the same as for refined sugar. Both are pure carbohydrate. We know that an excess of carbohydrates is responsible for the increase in overweight and diabetes.

The way in which sugar is absorbed and metabolized does not change. So, the impact on the blood glucose level is the same.
Therefore, the consumption of refined or brown sugar has to be reduced.

All studies show that the sweetness of brown and refined sugar is same. Therefore, there is no benefit with respect to this factor.


The best alternative is to reduce as much as possible the consumption of sugar, be refined or brown.

• tea and coffee without sugar
• sugar free foods (soft drinks, instant powder beverages, juices, yogurt, flavored milk, gelatin, jellies, chocolates)


• cakes
• biscuits

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