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What Is Demerara Sugar? Is It Better Than White Sugar

Demerara sugar or brown sugar is that exotic version of white sugar with a golden toffee colour to it. It is essentially a marginally less refined sugar which is made during the first pressing of sugarcane. It is made up of around 93% sucrose. White sugar on the other hand is made up of 97-98% sucrose. Demerara sugar has some minerals, but they are too less to be able to contribute to your daily recommended levels. The sugar got its name from the British colony of Demerara, which is now in republic of Guyana. This sugar was originally extracted from the sugarcane grown in volcanic soil of the region. The sugar has a distinct flavour to it with deep caramel-like touch to it. In this article, we will see if demerara sugar really healthier or in any way better than white sugar. Keep reading…
Delhi-based nutritionist Pooja Malhotra says that demerara sugar is less refined from white sugar. She says, “Demerara sugar has slightly less sucrose (88-93 percent) as compared to white sugar (96-98 percent). While white sugar has been completely refined to remove minerals, demerara sugar contains important minerals like magnesium, manganese, zinc, chromium, cobalt etc. However, these minerals are present in trace amounts. Both types of sugar provide essentially the same amount of calories (4 kcal per gram), and these minerals are needed by our body in small amounts to help digest the sugar. However, to meet our mineral requirements, we will have to load up on demerara sugar, which obviously makes no sense.”
She goes on to mention that if you choose demerara sugar over white, it will essentially be for its flavour rather than the nutrients it provides. “So remember, while raw sugars like demerara are nutritionally superior to white sugar, they can’t be called health foods and need to be used with the same caution as refined white sugar,” explains Pooja.
1. Demerara sugar is made from sugarcane
Demerara sugar is obtained from dehydrating syrup of sugarcane. The process is more or less like white sugar. The only difference is that is made by purifying syrup from sugarcane.
2. Minerals in demerara sugar are too little to count
Mineral content in sugar can be seen by the ash level or molasses in sugar. Most of the ash in sugar comes from minerals. This is provided that these minerals are not impurities. Ash level in demerara sugar is below 0.45% by most manufacturers of the sugar. This level is much lower than other alternatives of white sugar. Thus, neither demerara sugar nor white sugar contain enough minerals to be credited to being beneficial for health. Your daily intake of sugar should be in limited amounts only.
3. Demerara sugar has less sucrose and more molasses
When compared to white sugar, demerara sugar is found to have less sucrose and more molasses. 96 to 98% of demerara sugar is sucrose. However, minerals like magnesium, calcium, potassium in molasses, along with fructose and glucose help in bringing a balance. But the high sucrose content makes it very similar to white sugar. People on a weight loss regime are not going to benefit vastly by opting for white sugar of demerara sugar.
4. It is partially refined or raw sugar
The initial process of demerara and white sugar are the same. But demerara sugar is taken from the raw sugar of first pressing of cane. It is not processed any further and thus retains the molasses and colour of sugar. The grain of demerara sugar is a little bigger than white sugar.
5. Demerara sugar has a rich flavour
The unique flavour of demerara sugar is what makes it unique and intriguing. Its intense toffee flavour is a favourite of many. Brown sugar is a popular ingredient in cakes and pastries. Crystals of demerara sugar are larger than white sugar. They take longer than white sugar to dissolve in the drink.
(Pooja Malhotra is a nutritionist based in Delhi)