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What is the difference between unrefined & refined cane sugar?

Updated April 17, 2017

Refined and unrefined cane sugar both contain the same amount of calories and have the same level of sweetness. However, there are several differences between unrefined and refined cane sugar, including nutritional content and flavour.

Minerals and Nutrients

Refining sugar removes all of sugar cane's natural minerals and nutrients, which remain present in unrefined sugar. These include phosphorus, calcium, iron, magnesium and potassium.

Processing Chemicals

Refined sugar contains a reside from its processing. These chemicals include phosphoric acid, sulphur dioxide and formic acid.

Colour, Texture and Flavor

Unrefined sugar is golden in colour, can vary in texture from course to powdery and has a warmer flavour with hints of molasses. Refined sugar is white in colour--unless molasses is added to make brown sugar, has a fine crystalline consistency and few undertones of flavour.

Dissolving Rate

Refined sugar dissolves more quickly than unrefined sugar. Use refined sugar in bread machines--sprinkle unrefined sugar on top of baked goods.

Shelf Life

Unrefined sugar has a shorter shelf life than refined sugar because it still contains some impurities that can only be removed during heavy processing.

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About the Author

Sophia Sola has been a writer and editor for over six years. She co-owns Sirius Prose Editing & Writing Service and has experience ranging from authoring magazine articles to editing Ph.D. dissertations. She has been published in the "Earth First! Journal" and on Tivix.com, JSI Top 21 Record Reviews and other websites.