What is the difference between unrefined & refined cane sugar?

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What is the difference between unrefined & refined cane sugar?
Unrefined sugar (spoonful of sugar image by Brett Mulcahy from Fotolia.com)

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.

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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.

Unrefined sugar cubes
Unrefined sugar cubes (sucre image by laurent hamels from Fotolia.com)

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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