Is Brown or White Sugar Better for Your Health?

Is Brown or White Sugar Better for Your Health?

If you’re a tea or coffee drinker (of course you are) that enjoys sweet notes in their beverage, you should know if brown or white sugar is better for you.

Most believe the more rare brown sugar is healthier for you.

“People tell me all the time they put four teaspoons of brown sugar in their coffee instead of white sugar, so it’s OK,” says Brooklyn-based dietitian Shira Sussi MS, RDN, CDN.

The truth is, it’s not. In fact, swapping brown sugar for white is no better than putting four teaspoons of white sugar in your coffee.


There’s two types of brown sugar, factory and natural. The latter retains the natural cane juice, while the former is simply white sugar coated with syrup or molasses. All have different percentages of sucrose, glucose, fructose, minerals, and water. The darker the colour, the stronger the flavour, says Sussi. But in terms of health, they’re more or less the same.

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“When it comes to comparing white and brown sugar, the two are almost identical nutrition-wise,” says Alida Iacobellis, MHSc, RD, owner, of ALIVE Nutrition Solutions. “White sugar is slightly more processed seeing as it has the molasses completely stripped out of it, whereas brown sugar is the result of stopping the production process a bit early while a tiny amount of molasses remains. What you end up with is a deeper flavour and colour with brown sugar.”

Iacobellis says less processing means brown sugar has trace amounts of minerals like calcium and potassium, which are mildly beneficial, while white sugar is pure sucrose and void of vitamins and minerals. Regardless of what you choose, try sticking with the Heart & Stroke’s recommendation of no more than 48 grams of sugar a day.

Photo Credit: marketlan/; Iasmina Calinciuc/

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