Don't Believe This Myth About Brown Sugar

You might've heard before that brown sugar is healthier than white sugar — after all, it holds true for brown rice and white rice according to Today. Part of this myth might come from the color, since raw sugar is typically brown as well, and could lead to some people believing that brown sugar is less processed and refined than white, and therefore healthier — but while brown sugar isn't exactly the same as white sugar, there's really not much difference between the two when it comes to nutrition.

MyRecipes states that usually, molasses is what gives all brown sugars their color. The browner it is, the more molasses it contains. But, according to The New York Times, rather than being less processed, most of the brown sugar you buy at the grocery store has been refined to white sugar, and then had molasses added back in to give the manufacturer more control over the crystal size and color. Mixing in molasses does add a few nutrients to white sugar that otherwise aren't there — including calcium, iron, and potassium — but they're in such small amounts that they don't really add any extra health benefits to brown sugar (via Healthline). The New York Times says that typically, brown sugar is only 5 to 10 percent molasses, so there just isn't enough there to make it significantly different from white sugar when it comes to nutrition. Instead of switching out white sugar for brown, It's best to just use each one in moderation.

The difference between baking with white sugar and brown sugar

While you won't gain any health benefits from swapping the two, since they're so similar you can sometimes substitute one for the other in recipes without noticing much of a difference. For example, according to The Spruce Eats, if you're out of brown sugar, you can substitute an equal amount of white sugar, though your baked goods might be a little less moist. You can also swap white sugar for brown sugar, though (according to The Kitchn) it can make for slightly denser baked goods, which may not work well for light and airy cakes.

But if you're set on using brown sugar to make chocolate chip cookies and you've only got white sugar in your pantry, you can easily mix up your own. According to The Spruce Eats, 1 cup of white sugar mixed with 1 tablespoon of molasses makes light brown sugar, and increasing the molasses to 2 tablespoons will give you dark brown sugar. It's not nearly as easy to create your own white sugar from brown sugar, but hey, that's what grocery delivery is for, right?