Is Brown Sugar Good for People With Diabetes - Sugar.Fit

Reviewed by

Shifa Fathima

Is Brown Sugar Good for People with diabetes?

In India, the word diabetes is often used synonymously with ‘sugar’. Very often, instead of calling it diabetes, we end up calling the condition sugar. This is because sugar plays a magnanimous role in this disorder. Any imbalances in the sugar levels of the bloodstream can lead to significant damage and impairment to the different organs in the body.

Many people also believe that eating too much sugar causes diabetes. While that may not be completely true, there have been certain studies that have been linked with the onset of Type 2 Diabetes owing to an unhealthy lifestyle with excess sugar consumption. This, however, does not mean that eating a lot of sugar or sugary content is the only reason why diabetes occurs in certain individuals. There are a lot of mitigating factors that play a role in the onset of the condition.

The first thing, however, that an individual who is diagnosed with diabetes is asked to control is their intake of sugar. Several questions run through the mind of a newly diagnosed person and their family members– can people with diabetes eat brown sugar, will this have to be for life, what about honey, etc. These questions are natural and necessary and deserve to be answered by professionals to be able to help the individual and their families understand how to navigate through this tough condition.

Is Brown sugar good for diabetes?

Brown sugar is often considered to be the healthier alternative to white sugar – this is why many people wonder if brown sugar is good for diabetes. But is that really the case? There are several misconceptions about white and brown sugar. The major similarity between them is that they are produced from the same source. But they do have several aspects that make them unique as well.

Production – Both these sugars are grown in tropical climates in the form of sugarcane plants or sugar beet plants. The juice is extracted from these crops and is then purified and heated to form a brown syrup called molasses. Then, the crystallized form of sugar is used to produce sugar crystals which are separated from the molasses by a centrifuge. The white sugar is then further processed to remove the excess molasses. Brown sugar, on the other hand, is further processed where the molasses is added back to it.

Culinary differences – At times, these sugars can be used interchangeably. We see coffee shops in our cities keep sachets of both, brown and white sugar, to put in our beverages. However, for professionally cooked products, these sugars may create a difference in the color, texture, and even overall flavor of the final product. The brown sugar, owing to the molasses, will result in soft and dense baked products. White sugar would result in an airier texture. However, if the baked products are considering brown sugar diabetes type 2 and its potential benefits, there might not be any health-related benefits.

Nutrient Profile

Both White and brown Sugar are produced from the same sugarcane crop which makes them similar in their properties. Brown sugar, however, is white sugar + molasses – which contributes to its darker color and increases its nutritional value. Higher levels of calcium, iron, and potassium are observed in brown sugar; however, the values are almost insignificant. Even calorie-wise, though brown sugar is known to have lesser calories, the difference does not amount to much.

  • One teaspoon or 4gms of brown sugar – 15 calories
  • One teaspoon or 4gms of white sugar – 16.3 calories

Therefore, is brown sugar good for diabetes? Maybe not as much as it is made out to be. This is because the differences are minor and may not be huge contributors to good health among people living with diabetes.

Both increase blood sugar levels

The whole point of going off of sugar if you have been diagnosed with diabetes is that the consumption of sugar results in an immediate spike in the overall blood sugar levels in the body. One of the primary components in both these forms of sugars is sucrose. The glycemic index of sucrose is 65, on a scale from 1 to 100. The glycemic index is a measure of how fast the consumption of certain foods - sugar, in this case, would increase the blood sugar levels.

Just like French fries, sweet potato, and popcorn would result in an increase in blood sugar levels, brown sugar works the same.

If the consumption of brown sugar would not do anything to slow down the increase of blood sugars, it is considered to be unhealthy. Since an individual diagnosed with diabetes has to learn the effective management of glucose in the body, eating foods that would not help the cause would be ineffective. To avoid any long-term risks and complications of diabetes, it would be important to not consume sugar in any format.

In case there is a craving for sugar and something sweet, it would be best to indulge in any form of natural sugars like the ones present in fruits. Since these sugars have not been manufactured or processed artificially, they would not be harmful as they won’t result in spikes. Natural sugars are digested well and are absorbed by the body more slowly which means that they have a lower GI. Is brown sugar good for diabetes? No, but natural sugar is. Read about is jaggery good for diabetes

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Complications : White & Brown Sugar

It is important to remember that sugars contain certain amounts of carbs and glucose, both of these are vital for a rounded and balanced diet.

These sugars can be obtained with the help of any foods and vegetables that have natural sugars in them. Any form of added sugar – brown or white might only result in the deterioration of health.

Excess intake of sugar is harmful as it causes several complications:

  • Increase in the blood sugar levels and an overall higher Hba1c
  • Greater risk of heart diseases and other heart-related complications
  • The onset of Type 2 diabetes
  • Weight gain and obesity. If you have already been diagnosed with diabetes, this is something you need to be on the watch for.
  • Fatty liver disease, problems with kidney functioning, etc
  • Impairment in insulin sensitivity of the body, leading to higher insulin resistance.

Your search for the answer to the question “is brown sugar good for diabetes?” would yield an answer that even though this sugar has more minerals and nutritional qualities, they are not enough to cause any significant health benefits for someone who is trying to manage the symptoms of diabetes.


It is not easy to restrict your diet to a great extent once you know what sweet things taste like. When you talk about restricting sugars, you don’t only mean the consumption of raw sugar. It involves any kind of sweetened products, even baked goods, fruit juices, biscuits, cereals, etc. If you are looking for brown sugar to be a substitute for white sugar, it may not entirely be accurate and a healthy substitute as brown sugar has negligibly lower quantities of calories as compared to white sugar. This means that it is equally, if not more, unhealthy than white sugar. Only 5-10% of added sugar, brown or white, is advised for people with diabetes.

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