Brown Sugar Vs White Sugar: Which One Is Healthier?

Brown Sugar and white sugar both have a wide range of health benefits and side effects. Here's what nutritionist expert has to say about.

Navya Kharbanda
Written by: Navya KharbandaPublished at: Dec 21, 2020Updated at: Dec 21, 2020
Brown Sugar Vs White Sugar: Which One Is Healthier?

Many food items become a debatable topic when compared with each other to conclude which one is healthier. Just like that, brown sugar and white sugar are also weighed on the basis of their different pros and cons. Although, both the sugars are added in any food item to bring sweetness in it but there are many differences between brown and white sugar. Sugar is a natural ingredient that is a major part of our kitchen. And, the most common types of sugar are brown sugar and white sugar that originate from yeh same crops. To dig more into these, Onlymyhealth editorial team spoke to Dietician Arushi Gupta, Associate Dietician, Dayanand Medical College and hospital, Ludhiana, about the health benefits, side effects and nutritional value of brown sugar Vs white sugar. Read further to know details about this.

What is the difference between brown and white sugar?

Sugarcane and sugar beet plants grow in tropical climates. Both brown and white sugars are extracted from these two crops that undergo the same process. But, the procedure of making brown and white sugar is totally different. Initially, the sugary juice from sugar beets and sugarcanes is extracted, purified, and heated to form a concentrated syrup that is called molasses. Then, the sugar turns into crystallized form, which produces crystals. The sugar crystals are then separated from molasses. Later, white sugar is made into small crystals by removing extra molasses. On the other hand, brown sugar is the white sugar only that gets molasses added back into it, due to which it has the brown colour. The major difference between white and brown sugar is their taste and colour. Adding brown sugar instead of white sugar can change the colour and the level of sweetness. Moreover, the difference between their flavour is that brown sugar has more if a caramel and toffee flavour, while white sugar more sweet and is a preferred choice for cakes and pastries.


Also Read: One Week To Beat Diabetes: Know Your Sugars In Food By Diabetes Educator Swati Bathwal

Health benefits

White sugar is a well known sweetener that is used to prepare many dishes like halwa, kheer, bakery items, etc. Along with its amazing flavour, white sugar has many health benefits too. Sugar is an essential food to maintain proper health and balance of nutrients. Talking about brown sugar, it is also a beneficial add on to your diet. It is a simple carbohydrate that provides glucose to the body as well as the brain. Calories gained from sugar are stored as fat in the body. As per Dt. Arushi, here are the health benefits of brown sugar and white sugar:


1. Quick energy source

Brown sugar is a quick energy source for your body and brain. It has glucose present in it that converts into energy after entering the blood stream. Sports person and athletes carry sugar cubes to get instant energy. Including sugar in the diet can be really good for growing kids as it is a good instant source of energy. It is very beneficial for children as well as adults.

2. Good skin health

Another advantage of consuming brown sugar through various ways is that it maintains good skin health. Sugar helps in dealing with a lot of skin problems like acne, eczema and even inflammation. Therefore, you can have brown sugar in moderation to enhance your skin. It works as an exfoliant and can even be applied on the skin mixed with honey.

3. Boosts metabolism

The component molasses present in brown sugar helps in boosting your metabolsim. Metabolism rate increase helps in weight loss. So, instead of eating white sugar, you can include brown sugar in your diet for successful weight loss. However, take care of the amount of brown sugar consumption.



1. Provides energy

Just like brown sugar, even white sugar also provides the benefit of instant energy in the body. One can have a spoon of sugar or chocolate and they are good to go. It converts the glucose into energy, this being beneficial for a lot of bodily functions.

2. Increases blood pressure

The low blood pressure patients should take sugar cubes that can help in increasing the levels immediately. A person suffering low blood pressure should prefer having sugar or sugary food items to balance the blood pressure levels.

3. Treats depression

You might have observed that there is mostly a sugar craving or need whenever you are sad or going through a bad mood. Studies say that sugar helps in curing depression. You can eat chocolates to boost mood and to feel good.


Also Read: Easy Diabetic Dessert Recipes: How To Make Sugar-Free Ragi Burfi?

Side effects

Overconsumption of any food item can be harmful for your body and lead to several health problems. From risk of heart diseases to blood sugar spikes, excess sugar is not at all good for the human body. Be it brown or white, sugar should be consumed in small quantities. Even foods containing sugar like chocolates, cakes, cold drinks, etc should be avoided as much as possible. Both sugars are needed to add a sweet flavour to your dish and it should be limited to that only. Having white or brown sugar occasionally with not hamper your health. As per Dt. Arushi, here are the main side effects of brown sugar and white sugar:


  • Brown sugar spikes blood sugar as it has good amount of glucose present it. High blood pressure patients should avoid sugar as much as possible
  • An increased heart rate is also a side effect of having too much brown sugar. Even if brown sugar is considered more healthy, it spikes blood pressure, resulting in rapid heart rate
  • Hyperactivity is also considered as one of the drawbacks of having excess brown sugar. This is most common in kids so a cut down on the consumption of brown sugar is important


  • Weight gain is one of the most common side effects of having a white sugar. It has more calories than brown sugar that can cause weight gain
  • White sugar can also increase the risk of heart diseases by spiking blood sugar levels. It may also cause type 2 diabetes in some people
  • Another con of overconsumption of white sugar or its sources is the risk of liver failure. Too much refined sugar causes fatty buildup that can lead to liver disease

Nutritional value

The nutritional value of brown sugar and white sugar is almost the same. Brown sugar does not contain fat and all the calories come from the amount of carbohydrates present in it. Brown sugar contains high amount of calcium, iron, and potassium when compared to white sugar.  On the other hand, white sugar is also known as refined sugar. It has a little more calories than brown sugar and it also lacks in minerals and nutrients. They provide no fat and protein to your body. According to Dietician Arushi, here are the nutritional facts of both brown and white sugar:

Brown sugar (one teaspoon)

  • Calories: 17.5
  • Fat: 0g
  • Sodium: 1.3mg
  • Carbohydrates: 4.5g
  • Fiber: 0g
  • Sugar: 4.5g
  • Protein: 0g

White sugar (one teaspoon)

  • Calories: 20
  • Carbohydrates: 5g
  • Sugar: 5g
  • Protein: 0g
  • Fat: 0g

Also Read: How To Stop Sugar And Junk Food Cravings?

White and brown sugar on the basis of their flavour, uses, health benefits, side effects and nutritional value. Both the sugars can be used in different ways in baking as well as cooking. Concludingly, talking about a healthier option between both the sugars, brown sugar contains more minerals as compared to white sugar. It mostly depends upon your taste and personal preference in choosing any one of the sugars. However, be it brown or white, the intake of sugar should be limited to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

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