Brown sugar: what it is, fattening and benefits

Do you use brown sugar on a daily basis? This is the type of sugar considered raw, as it is one of the first results of cooking sugarcane juice and does not go through any process of addition of chemical elements.

For this reason, it is considered pure and retains most of the nutrients and phytochemicals found in sugarcane.

Thus, among the main benefits of food are the large amount of vitamins and minerals and its ability to be better metabolized by the body, in addition to protecting heart health .

Want to know more? Keep reading because in this article you will learn more about this type of sugar, its health benefits and also learn some delicious recipes to prepare at home. Check out!

What is brown sugar?

Brown sugar is the first product that derives from sugarcane after it is cooked. It differs from refined sugar and crystal, more common types in supermarkets, by its dark color and absence of crystals.

This type of sugar is produced from fresh, ripe pieces of grass. For this, the sugarcane is crushed and the sugarcane juice is removed from it , which can also be consumed in its natural state.

However, to produce this liquid sugar, which is rich in sucrose and water , it is necessary to strain it to remove the larger impurities, and then boil it. In this process, the product starts to focus.

The result of this procedure is a dark powder, with a flavor and aroma very similar to that of brown sugar. Unlike other types of sugar, brown does not form well-defined sucrose crystals, as it has to go through other processes up to this point.

Currently, due to the search for a healthier diet, brown sugar has had an increase in its demand. This is because it is considered healthier than other options on the market. ( 1 , 2 )

Does he get fat like the others?

Brown sugar is less caloric than crystal and refined sugar. For example, each tablespoon of brown sugar contains an average of 11 calories. Refined sugar contains 30 calories for the same portion.

This divergence in values ​​can make a big difference in the amount of calories eaten during the day. However, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t get fat.

But, one way or another, the Ministry of Health warns that any type of sugar should never be consumed in large quantities. Even brown, which has fewer calories and more nutrients, but is rich in sucrose .

In smaller amounts than white sugar, it can even be an ally for those who want to lose weight. However, this substance, in large amounts, favors the emergence of chronic diseases such as diabetes, obesity and others. Therefore, it is important to maintain a balanced consumption . ( 3 , 4 )

7 health benefits of it

Here are seven health benefits of brown sugar that will make you opt for it in your daily life. Check out!

Fight free radicals

Brown sugar is rich in several antioxidant substances, as it is in an almost pure state. A study carried out in 2009 showed that this sweetener is second only to molasses in terms of its protective effect on cells.

Compared to other types of sugar, brown has almost twice as many antioxidants as demerara, which is brown sugar that has gone through the sucrose crystallization process.

These substances, especially the so-called phenolic compounds, act by preventing the action of free radicals, which cause cell oxidation. In the long term, the consumption of these substances prevents the appearance of several types of chronic diseases, cancer and even the aging of the skin. ( 5 )

The body can digest better

White sugars do not have a complex carbohydrate chain compared to brown sugars. This makes the refined options to be metabolized by the body more quickly.

This is the cause of the energy spike, followed by the tiredness we feel right after eating something with these types of sweeteners. In brown, carbohydrates need more time to be broken down and digested.

Thus, glucose is released slowly in the body, ensuring energy for longer and improving all body functions. 2 , 5 )

Rich in vitamins and minerals

Another benefit of brown sugar compared to white types is that brown sugar contains several types of vitamins and minerals. This sweetener is formed by agglomerates of sucrose, glucose and fructose crystals.

Among the nutrients present in the food are vitamins A, B, D, E and some of the B complex. In addition, minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, copper and zinc are also found in good amounts.

Meanwhile, regular sugar loses all these properties in the bleaching and refining process. Thus, it has no nutritional value and serves only to give a sweet taste to food. ( 1 , 3 , 6 )

It doesn’t go through so many chemical processes

Unlike what happens with the types of white sugars, brown sugar does not undergo any chemical processing. The only procedure done with this type of sweetener is the reduction of the sugarcane juice.

Thus, brown is the closest sweetener to the raw material used to manufacture it. This makes it more natural and a great option to stop consuming industrialized products or those that are bad for your health.

The only problem with this process is that brown sugar contains more impurities than other types. However, this is generally harmless to health. ( 1 , 2 )

It’s healing

Brown sugar also has healing properties. This is due to the presence of antioxidants, which help to reduce damage and stimulate cell regeneration.

In addition to that, in this type of sweetener there are substances that help prevent infections and inflammation . Thanks to the factor inhibiting the growth of colonies of different types of bacteria.( 7 )

rich in fiber

As it is a product with nutritional properties very similar to those of sugarcane, brown sugar contains fibers that make up a good part of the grass that is used in the manufacture of the sweetener.

In practice, switching from white sugar to brown sugar helps to regulate the gastrointestinal tract and prevent gas formation and constipation . ( 8 )

Decreases the risk of cardiovascular disease

As it is rich in potassium, opting for brown sugar can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Potassium is a mineral that acts inside cells, helping to exchange water with the environment. This makes it an important agent in maintaining blood pressure at normal levels and, consequently, heart health .

This mineral is found in various plant products, such as bananas and is also responsible for reducing the incidence of cramps. Therefore, it should always be part of a balanced diet. ( 9 )

What are the main types of sugar?

In addition to brown sugar, there are several other types of sugar in supermarkets. Most of them are made from sugarcane juice and go through several processes until reaching the point of consumption.

See below the other main types of vegetable sweeteners and their characteristics, learning to recognize each one!


Popularly known as white sugar , refined sugar undergoes a refinement process during its production. In this step, several chemical additives are added, which make it turn white.

However, all the vitamins and minerals that were present at the beginning of the process are lost. This type of sugar is made up of very small crystals and dissolves quickly when placed in water.( 10 , 11 )


Crystal sugar is also a type of white sugar. This nomenclature is a common name for every type of sugar that is produced by the mill and undergoes chemical processes.

It is recognized for being formed by large transparent crystals . As with refined sugar, crystal sugar loses about 90% of all its nutrients when going through the bleaching process. ( 10 , 11 )


Demerara sugar is produced from brown sugar. This type does not go through a heavy refining process, making it keep the dark color and all the nutritional properties that are present in the brown, but with a milder flavor. ( 10 , 11 )


With the search for healthier foods, people are increasingly opting for organic foods. That is, they do not use pesticides during cultivation, substances that are harmful to health.

Generally, organic sugar can be of the brown or demerara type, as it does not need any chemical additives in its manufacture. ( 10 )

Which one is better for your health?

According to the Ministry, the less processed, the better the sugar for health. Therefore, the best option is brown, followed by demerara .

These two types are manufactured in such a way that all of the sugarcane’s nutrients are maintained, as already mentioned. Therefore, they are considered the best for health. ( 10 , 11 )

Recipes with brown sugar

Did you know that brown sugar can be used to replace white sugar in all recipes? Yeah, in addition to being healthier, this sweetener still makes food tastier. Check out some recipes below.

Banana and Oat Cake

Everyone likes a cake and the banana with oatmeal and brown sugar is the perfect combination for those who want to combine flavor with nutritious food and convenience. See how to prepare!


  • 250 grams of fine oats
  • 1 tablespoon of chemical yeast
  • 4 eggs
  • half cup of oil
  • 4 very ripe bananas
  • 1 cup and a half of brown sugar.

Preparation method:

You will just need to blend the eggs, bananas, oil and sugar in a blender until everything is mixed. Afterwards, transfer the mixture to a large bowl and add the oats and yeast and mix slowly.

Finally, take it to a medium oven and preheat it for 40 minutes. To make the cake even more special, you can add cinnamon, which combines with brown sugar, or chopped nuts.

Apple cake

Another delicious cake recipe is apple and cinnamon, which is perfect for a winter day. Check out how to do it!


  • 3 eggs
  • half cup of oil
  • 1 cup and a half of wheat flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 chopped apples
  • Half a tablespoon of powdered cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon of chemical yeast.

Preparation method:

First, put the eggs and oil in a bowl and mix well. Afterwards, add the sugar, wheat flour and cinnamon powder. At this stage, you need to mix the ingredients gently so that the dough does not become elastic.

When everything is mixed, add the apples and finally the yeast. The dough should be taken in a greased tin to bake in a medium oven for 45 minutes.

Popcorn with brown sugar

Did you know that it is possible to make caramelized popcorn with brown sugar? Here’s how to prepare this recipe and transform your movie nights at home.


  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup of popcorn
  • 1 tablespoon of oil
  • 4 tablespoons of water.

Preparation method:

The first step is to put the oil and corn on the fire until it bursts completely. This step needs to be done in a deep pot with a lid. Afterwards, put the popcorn in a bowl.

Once that’s done, it’s time to prepare the caramel. To do this, just bring the sugar and water to the fire and mix well until the syrup is fine. That is, when you lift the spoon and it forms a continuous string back into the pan.

Finally, pour the caramel sauce over the popcorn and mix well until all are involved.

Can Diabetics Eat?

You saw in this article the health benefits of brown sugar, but the question remains, can diabetics consume it? According to information taken from the website of the Brazilian Society of Diabetes,  yes , but as long as it is done carefully.

What happens is that brown is also rich in sucrose and carbohydrates, which are transformed into glucose in the body. For this reason, the diabetic who chooses to use this sweetener must count it as if he were eating carbohydrates and calculate the maximum allowed during the day.

The Ministry of Health endorses this recommendation and warns against consuming excess sugar. This can raise blood sugar levels in the same way that regular sugars do. ( 12 )

Ellie Lauderdale

My name is Ellie Lauderdale, MD and I am USA based professional Nutritionist .

I am a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and board certified specialist in sports dietetics who is trained in integrative medicine. I have worked with hundreds of clients, from those suffering with chronic disease to professional and olympian athletes. My goal is to help optimize you from the inside so that you can feel, perform, and look your best on the outside.

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