Although problematic when consumed in excessive amounts, unrefined raw sugar is a better alternative to white sugar, since it retains minerals. USDA guidelines suggest limiting added sugars in any form so as not to displace nutrient-dense foods while increasing overall energy consumption in the diet.
Types of Sugar
Raw sugar includes unrefined cane juice or powder (Sucanat and Rapadura) and date sugar. White sugar can be disguised as refined or dried cane juice and refined cane sugar.
Teaspoon for teaspoon, raw and white sugars are calorically comparable. The difference lies within the presence of and quantity of minerals.
Raw sugar contains molasses, hence retains small amounts of calcium, iron and potassium. White sugar has molasses removed and therefore has no detectable minerals.
Substitute White Sugar
Raw sugar has a richer flavor due to the presence of molasses, so use equal parts or less (roughly 3/4 cup) when substituting unrefined raw sugar for white sugar.
Overall, the presence of minerals and the ability to use less raw sugar in place of white sugar makes raw sugar a better alternative to white sugar.