White sugar vs brown sugar or sugar vs jaggery, a common battle in the field of food and nutrition. Is brown sugar healthier than jaggery? Is jaggery a better option than white sugar? Most of us have such a question on a regular basis. But are you aware that not just these three, there are more than ten types of sugar available in the market? Getting confused? No. Don’t worry, the intention of this blog is not to make you confused but to guide you to choose the right sugar for you.
Sugar vs jaggery …..why so many types of sugar?
Sugar is sugar. No matter how many types of sugar available in the market, all of them are originate either from sugar cane or from beet sugar. During sugar processing, a thick, dark brown juice is obtained from the raw sugar called molasses which is later separated to get the white refined sugar. But when molasses is added during processing, the final product becomes brown and thus called brown sugar. Therefore , generally brown sugar contain 93.5 – 96.5% of sucrose and 3.5 – 6.5 % of molasses. The amount of molasses and the degree of processing define the color as well as the texture of the sugar.
- Granulated sugar (white-commonly known as refined sugar or table sugar- no molasses added-no flavor),
- Confectioners sugar (white- powdered sugar-no molasses added-no flavor),
- Demerara sugar(light brown-minimally refined raw cane sugar – little molasses added-have molasses flavor)
- Muscovado sugar (or Barbados sugar- dark and light brown-both variety available- sticky, sandy texture- molasses added-have strong molasses flavor)
Okay, then what is jaggery?
Jaggery is unrefined coarse brown sugar made from either sugar cane or palm sap through the traditional method. As the color suggests molasses is not separated during the process.
White vs brown sugar vs jaggery – Which one to choose?
Between any sugar and jaggery, of course, jaggery. Any time, any day. The reason is simple. Apart from having almost the same calorie value as sugar, sugar cane jaggery contain some amount of iron whereas date jaggery contains a fair amount of calcium. So when you choose jaggery over sugar, you ensure some amount of minerals. Whereas sugar is an almost empty calorie.
Now between white sugar and brown sugar, you may choose brown sugar just for the fact that it contains a negligible amount of few minerals. But remember, it is negligible.
Table 1: Comparison of approximate nutritive value of white sugar, brown sugar and jaggery (per 5 g i.e 1 teaspoon)
Sugar vs Jaggery – Health benefits and hazards of sugar and jaggery?
No matter how much you are concern of sugar or jaggery consumption, it has some health benefits which you may not ignore. Sugar helps to –
- boosts energy
- improve the tasteof the food and make food more acceptable
Needless to say that too much of sugar consumption is extremely harmful for our body. It increase the risk of –
- weight gain
- elevated blood glucose level
- heart disease
- acne or hyperpigmentation of skin
- fatty liver
Just like sugar, jaggery has it’s own benefits and downsides which no one can ignore. Jaggery has been used in Ayurveda for treatment of chronic diseases. It helps to –
- prevent anemia
- detoxify liver
- control blood pressure
- relieve constipation
- helps to purify blood
- relieve joint pain
At the same time excessive use of jaggery in daily diet may trigger –
- risk of parasitic infestation
- weight gain
- elevated blood glucose level
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When can we actually enjoy sugar?
No food is bad unless we start using them too much. This is definitely applicable when we talk about sugar. WHO recommended intake of free sugar should be less than 10% of the daily energy intake for adults and children and ideally it should be less than 5%. Therefore in an average of 3-4 teaspoons of sugar or jaggery one can enjoy without causing any risk. But the 5th spoon becomes a matter of concern.
So the drill is simple. Go guilt-free to take the first 2 spoons of sugar or jaggery any day. Check yourself from the 3rd spoon and think thrice before taking the 5th spoon. If you are diabetic you may have to stop on the 2nd spoon itself depending on your blood sugar level.
When sugar act as a slow poison
Sugar is added to almost every processed and packaged food even if the final product is not sweet. The addition of sugar(amount mentioned on the level) and the hidden sugar makes the product appealing and irresistible to the consumer which compels you to buy the second packet. Let me give few shockers to realize why I keep on mention NO PACKAGED and PROCESSED food in almost every blog I write.
- 375ml can of coke contains approximately 10 tsp of sugar
- 500ml of energy drink contains approximately 13 tsp of sugar
- One scoop of ice-cream contains approximately 3 tsp of sugar
- 2 tablespoons of cornflakes contain approximately 3 tsp of sugar
- 1 glass of packaged apple juice contains approximately 6 tsp of sugar
- 1 serving spoon of instant noodles contains approximately 4 tsp of sugar
That’s enough I guess. Can you gauge the amount of sugar may present in your favorite brownie or pastry or cake? Therefore, when you indulge even a little bit with any packaged and processed food, keep no doubt that all your sugar checks for the last seven days go for toss within a second.
The final call…
White vs brown sugar vs jaggery – the battle and endless discussion is completely meaningless until you focus on the portion control. If you are actually concerned about your health then you have no option but to cut all processed and packaged food. No matter whether you are taking brown sugar/ white sugar/ jaggery, sugar is sugar and mostly empty calories.
So what are you thinking? Planning to ignore the white sugar vs brown sugar battle and switch to zero-calorie non-nutritive sweetener? If yes, then that is going to create another vicious cycle for you. Why? For a few obvious reasons.
The best way is to keep a check always on sugar intake – white sugar/brown sugar or jaggery as per your wish. You may think of exploring other natural sugar like coconut sugar or raw-unrefined honey within the permissible limit. Instead of trusting in food processing units, trust your hand and indulge in a homemade version of your favorite food to be mindful of what exactly you are putting within you. All the best.
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