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It's easy to get answers about health and nutrition! Just send your question by email to askdrgourmet@drgourmet.com and Dr. Harlan will respond to selected questions of general interest. Answers will be posted in the Ask Dr. Gourmet newsletter (sign up now!) and archived in the Ask Dr. Gourmet section of the website.

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Ask Dr. Gourmet



Is brown sugar better for you than white sugar?

I have been wondering if substituting brown sugar for refined sugar is beneficial or is it the same. I would like to reduce my consumption of sugar in my baking, and I do know that you can reduce the amount used with little effect on the baked item.

Dr. Gourmet Says...

brown and white sugars in both crystallized and pourable forms

There is no significant difference between granulated sugar and brown sugar. Traditionally brown sugar was the crystals that were the last step in the refining process before the final "white sugar" refinement. These days the brown sugar that you purchase in grocery stores today simply contains molasses (3.5% for light brown sugar or 6.5% for dark brown sugar).

Changing the amount of sugar in baked goods can be a challenge depending on what you are making. I have worked with both stevia and Splenda and they work fairly well in muffins and quickbreads. The granulated Splenda that comes in the large bags works well in equal amounts (1 cup sugar = 1 cup granulated Splenda). Use 12 packets of Truvia brand stevia for each 1/2 cup of Splenda or sugar. Z Sweet brand stevia measures like sugar so you will need 1/2 cup of that product for 1/2 cup sugar.

Timothy S. Harlan, MD, FACP
Dr. Gourmet