Turbinado sugar is a light-colored sweetener that is only minimally processed so it retains some of the molasses naturally present in sugar cane. The word “turbinado” is a Spanish American derivative of the word turbine – a machine used to process sugar.
This blond sugar goes by several names, including demerara sugar or raw cane sugar. Turbinado sugar crystals are larger than other brown sugar or white refined sugar crystals. Turbinado sugar may provide health benefits to certain people depending on their dietary preferences, but since it is still sugar, it should be consumed in moderation.
Turbinado Sugar Nutrition Facts
The following nutritional information is provided by the USDA for 1 teaspoon (4.6 g) of turbinado sugar (source).
- Calories: 18
- Fat: 0g
- Sodium: 0.1mg
- Carbohydrates: 4.6g
- Fiber: 0g
- sugars: 4.6g
- Protein: 0g
Carbohydrates in Turbinado Sugar
All the calories in turbinado sugar come from carbohydrates. There are 18 calories in one serving of the sweetener. A commercial packet of turbinado sugar probably contains a 1 teaspoon serving.
All the calories in a serving of turbinado sugar are sugars; there is no fiber or starch. The glycemic load of turbinado sugar is estimated at 3, which is very low. Remember, though, that glycemic load takes portion size into account. So if you consume more than a teaspoon, the estimated glycemic load will increase.
Fats in Turbinado sugar
There is no fat in turbinado sugar.
Proteins in Turbinado sugar
Turbinado sugar does not provide protein.
Vitamins and minerals
When consumed in typical amounts, turbinado sugar provides no significant micronutrients. However, in larger amounts, the sugar can provide some minerals. A cup of this sugar provides a small amount of iron, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, sodium, potassium and zinc.
Turbinado Sugar Health Benefits
Turbinado sugar is often touted as a healthier alternative to refined white sugar. There are a few reasons why this claim may have some value.
Less is more
The crystals of turbinado sugar are larger than those in regular granulated sugar. For that reason, you may consume a little less of it if you spoon it into your morning coffee, berries, or cereal. This sugar also retains some natural molasses flavors, which may be more satisfying to some — helping them consume less.
Raw sugar may contain more antioxidants than other types of sugar. Antioxidants are substances (often naturally present in foods) that can help prevent or slow cell damage. One study found that raw cane sugar contains more antioxidants than refined sugar, corn syrup and agave nectar (source).
Suitable for vegans and vegetarians
Turbinado sugar may also appeal to those following a vegan or vegetarian diet. This sweetener is not exposed to bone char, an animal product used to refine sugar. So those following a plant-based diet may prefer to use turbinado sugar over white table sugar or other sweeteners.
Turbinado Sugar Allergies
Sugar allergies and sugar intolerances are possible. Symptoms may include mild digestive discomfort, gas, headache, or more serious side effects such as fainting.
If you suspect a sugar allergy or intolerance, please contact your healthcare provider for personalized advice.
Any health benefit of turbinado sugar — or any sugar or sweetener for that matter — must first be weighed against the downsides of consuming sugar. Most of us consume too much sugar, often without knowing it. Added sugar can hide where you least expect it, such as in spaghetti sauce, salad dressings and other savory foods.
Overconsumption of sugar and sugar-sweetened products can lead to weight gain, dental problems, obesity and other conditions, including type 2 diabetes (source).
Sugar occurs naturally in many different foods, such as dairy products and fresh fruit. For that reason, there is no recommendation for the total amount of sugar to be consumed each day. however, the 2020-2025 USDA Diet Guidelines for Americans recommends that you consume less than 10% of your calories per day from: added sugars (the sugar in fruits and milk is naturally occurring sugars)).
Check the ingredient label on your packaged food to look for added sugars. As of January 1, 2021, the Food and Drug Administration requires manufacturers to list both “sugar” and “added sugar” on the nutrition facts label.
Keep in mind that many foods high in added sugars offer very little nutritional value in the form of fiber, vitamins, or minerals. These foods are also often higher in calories.
Turbinado Sugar Varieties
Most grocery stores have turbinado sugar in the baking aisle. When dining out, look for brown packets that are usually labeled Sugar in the Raw (a brand name).
Turbinado Sugar Storage and food safety
Store turbinado sugar for months or longer in an airtight bag or container in a cool, dry place. If stored in moist or hot conditions, the sugar may clump and clump together, but it is still safe to consume.
Turbinado Sugar Recipes and Preparation Tips
Cook with raw sugar as you cook and bake with other types of sugar, without making any changes to the recipe. You may notice a slight taste or texture change when using raw sugar for baking. Higher moisture pies tend to be lighter and fluffier with raw sugar. But in recipes for muffins and other low-moisture baked goods, raw sugar doesn’t do very well.
You can also use raw sugar outside the kitchen. Its large crystals and sweet raw sugar scent make it a favorite ingredient in body and lip scrubs. To make it at home, simply combine the sugar with coconut, almond or olive oil.
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