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Nutritional Intake

Turbinado sugar: a raw sugar with a little more nutrition




Turbinado sugar is a type of sweetener that you may recognize by its color and taste. We tell you more about it here.

Turbinado sugar is a type of raw sugar. It is a product that has larger crystals than other types of sugar.

Its color is light yellow or light golden brown. The name “turbinado” comes from the word “turbine” and refers to the method used to process it.

If you don’t know it as turbinado sugar, you may have heard of demerara or raw cane sugar. In this article, we will tell you more about this type of sweetener, the possible health benefits it provides, and how it can be used.

What kind of raw sugar is turbinado sugar?

Turbinado sugar is made from sugar cane and is partially refined, retaining some of the original molasses, giving it its caramel color. Many call turbinado sugar raw sugar, because of the little refinement involved in the process. However, according to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), it is not completely “raw”.

Sugar that is not fully refined is not safe for human consumption, as it may contain impurities. Although turbinado sugar goes through a cleaning process, it is not as nutrient-draining as regular, refined sugar.

How to make turbinado sugar?

The process for making turbinado sugar is almost the same as for other types of sugar, except for the last part.

First, you wash and chop the sugarcane or beets. Then the sweet juice is extracted, which contains large amounts of sucrose, which is the main compound. But this juice also contains impurities, which are removed in the filtration process. This prevents the growth of bacteria.

The next step is dissolution, which occurs when water and sucrose are combined. This water evaporates when you then boil the sugarcane or beetroot juice into a saturated solution which thickens the product. At this stage, the sucrose begins to form crystals with a subtle brown color.

When turbinado sugar is produced, a small portion of the sucrose is not crystallized due to its liquid content and impurities, and it caramelizes to a slightly bitter taste. This is molasses with a light caramel flavor.

Then, if you want refined white sugar, you eliminate the molasses. That is not how you do it with turbinado sugar. The molasses partially remains and, depending on the amount of molasses, is called raw sugar, turbinado sugar, demerara sugar, or muscovado sugar.

The nutrition in turbinado sugar

Turbinado sugar contains certain nutrients and minerals. Below you can read about these, which we calculated based on 1 teaspoon, which corresponds to 5 grams of sugar:

  • Calories: 18
  • Fett: 0 g
  • Natrium: 0,1 mg
  • Carbohydrates: 4.6 g
  • Fiber: 0 g
  • Sugars: 4.6 g
  • Protein : 0 g
  • Calcium: 0,55 mg
  • Potassium: 1.33 mg
  • Magnesium: 0,01 mg
  • Iron: 0.017 mg

Although it contains a certain amount of minerals, such as calcium, potassium, and iron, these values ​​are not relevant for the average diet. However, the caloric value is as high as that of refined sugar.

Additionally, there are studies that claim that molasses by-products, including turbinado sugar, may contain antioxidants that remain after processing. But they are also very few in comparison to other foods.

The benefits of turbinado sugar

There are several health benefits of turbinado sugar. But just don’t forget: it’s still sugar. Therefore, you should consume it only in moderation.

It contains more nutrients than regular sugar

Compared to the nutrients from regular refined sugar, turbinado sugar contains more minerals (calcium, magnesium, and potassium) than regular sugar. Correspondingly, refined sugar only contains calories, but no minerals.

However, you would have to consume a lot of sugar to meet the nutritional needs of these micronutrients, and that is not healthy!

It contains more antioxidants

A scientific study compared turbinado sugar, refined sugar, and brown sugar. The aim was to investigate the antioxidant capacity of the products, as well as their toxicity.

The results showed that turbinado sugar was better than the other two sugars because its moisture content was lower and its ash content was higher. This also applied to its mineral concentration.

The study also showed that the main antioxidant compounds in this sugar are 4-hydroxybenzoic acid, chlorogenic acid, protocatechuic acid, trans ferulic acid, and apigenin. At the same time, no toxicity could be detected.

It has a lower glycemic index than other types of sugar

The glycemic index (GI) is an indicator of how quickly a food can raise blood sugar levels. That is, it determines how the body reacts to carbohydrate food.

GI is measured between 0 and 100. The faster carbohydrates are broken down and raise blood sugar, the higher the glycemic index. So the closer to 100, the higher the GI of a food.

Although still high, turbinado sugar has a GI of 75, while refined sugar has a GI of 80 and high fructose corn syrup has a GI of 87. There are other sweeteners, such as stevia, agave, and fructose, that also have a lower GI.

If you can eat this sugar or not, with respect to certain diseases, you must consult a healthcare professional. For example, people with diabetes should eat low-GI foods, so turbinado sugar would not be part of the menu.

Why you shouldn’t eat too much turbinado sugar

To reach the number of vitamins and minerals that the body needs, this sugar is not an alternative. If you were to eat only turbinado sugar, you would have to eat a lot more than what is recommended to experience any benefit. Remember that the amount of sugar listed for women is no more than 5 teaspoons; for men, a maximum of 7.

The previous calculation that included the nutritional information for turbinado sugar was for 5 grams. So let’s take the example of calcium:

Scientific evidence shows that consuming too much sugar can lead to various consequences:

  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Hypertension
  • Heart problems

Use of turbinado sugar

Because of its light caramel flavor, many people like to use turbinado sugar in baking. Some also add it to juices and smoothies and as a topping on desserts.

You can sprinkle it on cakes, cookies, pies, and muffins. Many people start their day by adding it to their breakfast cereal.

However, it is still sugar, so we recommend that you use it in recommended amounts of a maximum of 25 and 36 grams for women and men, respectively. Remember that sugar is associated with chronic problems if consumed in excess.

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