Turbinado sugar is obtained from the initial pressings of the sugar cane. Because this sugar undergoes very little processing, it is considered a healthier alternative to white sugar. The turbinado sugar crystals are much coarser than those of sugar that has been processed further. They retain much of the taste of molasses, which is a by-product that occurs naturally during sugar processing. The sugar gets its name from the centrifugal procedure used for drying the crystals: The name comes from "turbine."
Unlike white sugar, which has been thoroughly processed, turbinado sugar is created with the first sugar cane pressings. Aficionados of the health benefits of turbinado sugar point to its health benefit of less calories than white sugar. However, turbinado sugar attracts moisture with its particularly soft texture.
Spoonful for spoonful, this results in less calories because the weight of the water in the moisture is taken into account. Turbinado sugar is crushed directly from the harvested sugar cane, and the juice is allowed to evaporate naturally then crystallize into its characteristic large crystals, so much of the vitamins and minerals in the sugar cane are retained in the turbinado sugar.
Because turbinado sugar is obtained in such a natural manner, with almost no processing, it is often referred to as “sugar in the raw” or “raw sugar.” Once the sugar cane has been cut, the stems are split open and the juice is extracted through a process of slow boiling, layer by layer. The end result is completely natural and very high quality sugar, with all the natural color of the molasses retained in the finished crystals.
The natural yellow color of the raw sugar must be removed to create white sugar. During processing, bone char is used to help produce the pristine color of white sugar. This is not suitable for vegans, because the bone char comes from the bones of cows. However, turbinado sugar and natural brown sugar are both ideal for vegan diets, as neither are processed in any way other than the completely natural evaporating process, with no chemicals involved.
Every 100 grams of turbinado sugar contains 100 milligrams of potassium; 85 milligrams of calcium; 23 milligrams of magnesium; 3.9 milligrams of phosphorus; and 1.3 milligrams of iron. The total mineral salt content is 740 milligrams. A single teaspoon of turbinado sugar contains 20 calories, of which just 5 grams are complex carbohydrates.
Once the water element of the sugar cane has evaporated, the remaining crystals are full of the same nutrients that were found in the growing sugar cane. These include 0.20 milligrams of niacin; 32.57 milligrams of calcium; 0.09 milligrams of copper; 0.57 milligrams of iron; 2.49 milligrams of magnesium; 0.09 milligrams of manganese; 0.01 milligram of phosphorus; 162.86 milligrams of potassium.
Healthy dieters may want to bear in mind that 99 percent of white sugar consists of nothing but calories. Any nutritional content it might once have had is destroyed during processing. If you substitute turbinado sugar for white sugar in your diet, you will gain nutritional benefits along with the pleasure of its sweet, caramel flavor.