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What is turbinado sugar?

Turbinado sugar is a type of raw sugar that is processed minimally so that it retains some of the natural molasses content that’s found in the sugar cane it's made from.

Turbinado sugar is known for its distinctive golden colour and has a slightly richer flavour when compared to white sugar. In this article, we explore what turbinado sugar is and how you can incorporate it into a healthy diet.

What is Turbinado Sugar?

Turbinado sugar is created by extracting juice from the sugar cane plant. This juice is then boiled down to remove any excess water and create a concentrated syrup. This syrup is then crystallised to produce what’s known as raw sugar crystals. Turbinado sugar is different to white sugar, which undergoes further processing to remove any molasses content from the syrup that also creates a uniform colour and texture. 

Turbinado sugar is minimally processed, which allows it to retain some of its natural molasses, which adds to its colour and flavour. 

What’s the taste profile of Turbinado sugar?

Turbinado sugar has a somewhat richer and more complex flavour to it than standard white sugar. The subtle molasses taste, and caramel flavour in Turbinado sugar make it a popular option as a sweet addition to baked goods and coffee. It also has a slightly coarser texture and golden colour to it, which can add depth and complexity of flavour to many types of dishes and drinks. 

Overall, turbinado sugar is an excellent alternative to white sugar for those who are looking for a more natural, less processed sweetener with a unique taste profile for their food and drinks.

Is Turbinado sugar healthier than white sugar?

It’s worth keeping in mind that Turbinado sugar is still a type of sugar and should be enjoyed in moderation. It does have some potential benefits when compared to regular white sugar white sugar. 

Here are a few reasons why Turbinado sugar might be a slightly better option than white sugar:

  • It contains more nutrients: 
    • Turbinado sugar isn’t as refined as white sugar, which means it preserves more of the natural nutrients and antioxidants found in sugar cane, such as calcium, magnesium, and potassium, albeit in very small amounts. 
  • It likely has a slightly lower glycemic index: 
    • The Glycemic Index (GI) of turbinado is not available. However, due to its higher molasses content, turbinado sugar probably has a slightly lower lower GI than its white sugar cousin, albeit not by much. The average GI of white sugar is 65 (medium) and turbinado is likely to also fall in the medium range.  In practical terms this would have little impact on blood glucose levels and health. The rich flavour of turbinado may mean you can use less to get the same enjoyment, and this is a benefit.
  • It is more natural and less processed: 
    • Turbinado sugar retains more of the natural molasses present in sugar cane and is less processed than white sugar in which all the molasses (and colour) is removed. Turbinado sugar is closer to dehydrated sugar cane juice than white sugar.
  • It’s good for baking: 
    • Because Turbinado sugar keeps more natural molasses content, it has more caramel colour and flavour. This adds richness and depth of flavour to baked goods.

Can Turbinado sugar be used as part of a healthy diet?

There are some factors that make Turbinado sugar a slightly better alternative to white sugar, although enjoying added sugar of any kind in moderation is recommended for good health. It is less processed, has slightly higher nutrient and antioxidant content and possibly a slightly lower GI (this data is not available) but the biggest benefit is probably it’s rich caramel flavour. 

Here are some ways turbinado sugar can be used in a healthy diet:

  • Use turbinado sugar as a more natural sweetener in place of processed white sugar. The slightly richer flavour and golden colour of turbinado sugar can add depth and complexity of flavour to baked goods, coffee, tea or anything that needs a little sweetness.
  • Use as an alternative to brown sugar in many different recipes. Brown sugar is made by mixing white sugar with molasses, while turbinado sugar already contains much of its natural molasses content, making it a easy swap for brown sugar in many different dishes and drinks.

Whilst Turbinado sugar is less processed than white sugar, it’s still a type of sugar and should be enjoyed in moderation. Consuming too much sugar has been known to lead to health problems such as obesity and its related conditions diabetes and heart disease.

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