Differences Between Sugars: White, Brown, Raw, Molasses, Honey, Agave

Many of us are becoming more aware of the health dangers caused by high-fructose corn syrup. We do our best to avoid it and lots of health-conscious individuals won’t go near sweeteners like sucralose and aspartame. However, with the many options available, sticking to natural sugar isn’t as straightforward as it sounds. So, when it comes to health standpoint, which type of sugar is really superior? The answer is complicated.

Natural sugar is still sugar and everyone should lessen their intake of every type of sugar to reduce the risk of cancer, type 2 diabetes, and other diseases. Eventually, your body will pay the price if you consume too much sugar and it doesn’t matter if it came from dates, coconuts, bees, cactus, or sugarcane.

Yet, there will be a time when you will need sugar for a recipe, let’s say a dessert or something savory and you might be wondering if which is the best type to use.

Let’s take time to read the assessment of some of the most natural options.

Coconut Sugar

At present, coconut sugar is considered to be one of the trendiest sugars. It is made by boiling down the sap from the coconut palm tree into a syrup followed by drying and grinding it into a fine powder. As compared to refined sugar, it has a lower glycemic index and it retains some of its nutrients like iron, calcium, zinc, and potassium.

White Sugar

It comes from refining and processing beets or sugarcane. During the processing period, minerals, as well as other compounds that color the sugar are taken out and what remains, is a refined white sugar which is highly processed and void of nutrition. This type of sugar is mostly used by people at home for cooking and baking.

Raw sugar

The process of making raw sugar is much like with white sugar. However, the process stops before the final refining, thus enabling it to retain its brownish hue.

Molasses/Brown Sugar

Molasses is the byproduct that is created when the compounds and minerals are taken out of the refined sugar. It is mixed back with white sugar in order to create brown sugar. As compared to its refined white counterpart, it has more antioxidants and minerals as well as a slight edge from a health standpoint. But, the number of antioxidants present in molasses is still not enough as compared to the antioxidant-rich foods like blueberries. Molasses contains nutrients like calcium, iron, magnesium, selenium, and blackstrap.


Honey is collected by bees from flowers. What makes it sweeter is that it is relatively high in fructose content. This means that you only need less of it to provide you with the sweetness you needed. It is considered superior due to its antimicrobial power which provides an ability to kill germs. Use honey as much as possible as an alternative as this one is the least processed sugar you can get.


Agave syrup comes from the sap of a type of cactus known as agave. The process includes extracting the juice from the cactus which is then filtered and heated before being concentrated into syrup form. It contains very small amounts of potassium, magnesium, and calcium. As compared to the white sugar, agave syrup is 1.5 times sweeter, that is why you should consume less of it to get the same taste.

For sure, you really want to minimize your intake of all types of sugar. You can use honey instead of corn syrup but don’t think that it’s safe to consume as much as you want, especially if you’re diabetic.