There are many brown sugars available on the market, and some them have been processed into white sugar and then colored with molasses, for a slightly caramel taste. All brown sugars that have been processed naturally to retain their genuine brown color contain similar nutritional content. Natural brown sugars have not been fully processed and are generally more nutritious than white sugar.
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The International Commission for Uniform Methods of Sugar Analysis, or ICUMSA, is the definitive authority on sugar grading according to the color of the crystals, and is acknowledged in its 30 member countries. ICUMSA standards are also universally recognized by the EU and the U.S. Food Chemicals Codex.
According to the commission's codes, sugar color is graded according to “reference base units,” or RBUs. Generally, the higher the RBU, the better the quality of the sugar grading. The Institute of Sugar and Alcohol in Brazil has adopted its own interpretation, wherein the higher the grading of the RBUs, the lower the sugar quality.
Natural Brown Sugar
Natural brown sugar has been graded according to the golden brown color of its crystals, according to the ICUMSA. The color of brown sugar is recorded as between 8,000 and 11,000 RBUs. The co-crystallization process of natural brown sugar is a specialized function that ensures its color, flavor and softness are constantly maintained. Natural brown sugar has very fine crystals that tend to attract moisture, resulting in a particularly soft texture.
There are no harmful chemicals used during the processing of natural brown sugar. Flocculants, surfactants, viscosity modifiers and bleaching agents that may be used to process white sugar are completely absent from the processing of natural brown sugar. Other chemicals that are potentially harmful, such as sulfur dioxide, formic acid and phosphoric acid are not used either. Natural brown sugar is processed in a completely natural way to maintain as much of the sugar cane’s natural nutrition as possible, including vitamins and minerals.
A single tablespoon of natural brown sugar yields just 11 calories. For every 100 grams of natural brown sugar contains 100 mg potassium; 85 mg calcium; 23 mg magnesium; 3.9 mg phosphorus; and 1.3 mg iron. The total mineral salt present in natural brown sugar is a maximum of 740 mg. In 220 grams of natural brown sugar, there are 216 gm of carbohydrate and just 0.3 mg of protein.
Vitamins, Minerals and Trace Elements
One cup of natural brown sugar will yield: 0.2 mg niacin; 0.1 mg vitamin B6; 2.2 mg folate; 0.3 mg pantothenic acid; 5.1 mg choline; 0.2 mg betaine. 183 mg calcium; 1.6 mg iron; 19.8 mg magnesium; 8.8 mg phosphorus; 293 mg potassium; 61.6 mg sodium; 0.1 mg zinc; 0.1 mg copper; 0.1 mg manganese; and 2.6 mcg of the antioxidant selenium. These vitamins, minerals and trace elements are found in the sugar cane at the time of harvest and are retained during the processing of natural brown sugar.