Myth of fact: Is brown sugar really healthier than white sugar?
It is a common misconception that brown sugar is a healthy alternative to white sugar as people wrongly believe that it is more natural and less refined. However, this is not the case. On the contrary, brown sugar is actually just white sugar that has undergone an additional process where molasses, a black syrup by-product of sugar refining, has been re-incorporated into the sugar particles. Brown sugar is technically speaking more refined as it has undergone a greater degree of processing than white sugar to give it that different granular texture and flavour. Although research shows that the molasses contain a slightly elevated level of minerals, this is such a negligible quantity that it would not bring about health benefits in the body.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that added sugars should not exceed 10% of energy (calorie intake) from food and drinks each day. This is about 70g for men and 50g for women, but varies according age, size and how active you are.
TAKE HOME MESSAGE
It's all about moderation - consume foods and drinks containing high amounts of sugar in moderate amounts. Although sugars are found naturally in many food products, there is also a vast amount of hidden sugars that are added to many products to enhance the flavour.
Calorific and nutritionally poor - many foods that contain added sugar e.g. sweets, cakes, biscuits, fizzy drinks etc. will usually provide 'empty calories' as they contain only very small amount of nutrients in relation to the vast amount of calories they deliver. As such, these products will not bring about any health benefits.
Weight gain & associated detrimental health outcomes- moreover, excessive consumption of sugars can bring about weight gain and promote unfavourable health conditions associated with weight gain.
Check food labels- read the nutritional labels of food products to see how much sugar the product contains prior to purchasing as you may be in for a surprise!
The closer to the beginning of the ingredient list the sugar is the more sugar the product contains. Look for 'carbohydrates' (of which sugars) figure in the nutritional label to see the quantity of sugar the product contains per 100g.
Fat-free does not mean sugar-free - just because a product is labelled as 'fat-free' this does not mean it is 'sugar-free'. Ensure you have a good read of the food label.
Sugar’s many guises - There are lots of differing ways that added sugar can be listed on ingredients labels, so pay attention to the ingredients list (e.g. sucrose, glucose, fructose, maltose, molasses, hydrolysed starch, corn syrup, honey)
Read more about sugar here: BDA Sugar Factsheet
Sophie Bruno is a Registered Dietitian living and working in Brussels (Belgium). Read Sophie's foodie blog which will enable you to learn, increase your knowledge & cultivate yourself in the field of nutrition & health directly from Brussels