Author Archives: Alberto Nilson

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

We can see that in fact brown sugar has more nutrients. In particular calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium.
Using the concept of Nutritional Value ( 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

The cost of healthcare increases with overweight

cuidado medico

A recent study from Duke University in Singapore found that cost of healthcare increases proportionally to the increase of the overweight. An additional reason for attacking those extra pounds.


The research compared the Body Mass Index (BMI) with the annual cost of health care (doctor visits and prescription medicaments) in more than 17,700 university employees who were of the part in annual health appraisals between 2001 and 2011.


The result shows that the health cost increases when increasing BMI.



Average annual cost, US$


Healthy level



Severe obesity


With increasing BMI also increases the presence of diabetes, high blood pressure and 12 other health problems.

According to the study, the cost of care for cardiovascular disease was the one that increased more when increasing BMI.

In a press release from Duke University Dr. Truls Ostbye mentions that “these results suggest that excess body fat is harmful at any level.”

This is another incentive to invest in reducing overweight and maintain a healthy weight. One of the most interested in this investment are the health insurance companies. The insured must also be interested because at the end you have to pay more for your health programs.

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