If you're looking for real raw sugar, sucanat should be your choice. An abbreviation for sugar cane natural, sucanat is simply dehydrated sugar cane juice. Compared to other sugars, sucanat is a better source of nutrients, which means it offers some benefits to your health other than just a source of calories. However, it's still an added sugar, so you should use it in moderation.
Calories and Carbs
The calorie and carb content in sucanat is comparable to other types of sugars, including granulated sugar and turbinado sugar. A 1-teaspoon serving of sucanat contains 15 calories and 4 grams of carbs, which is the same amount found in the same serving of granulated sugar. Turbinado sugar is a little higher in calories and carbs compared to sucanat, with 20 calories and 5 grams of carbs per teaspoon. Neither type of sugar contains any fat or protein.
Vitamins and Minerals
As a minimally processed sweetener, sucanat retains much of its vitamin and mineral content. While both granulated and turbinado sugar are devoid of any health-promoting nutrients, a serving of sucanat contains iron, calcium, vitamin B-6 and potassium. However, according to a 2012 article published in Time, the amount of these vitamins and minerals found in a teaspoon of sucanat is negligible and may not boost your intake all that much. But when compared to the other sweeteners, it may be slightly more beneficial.
Sucanat also tastes different than the other sweeteners. As simply dehydrated cane juice, the sweetener not only retains its nutrients, but also the molasses-flavor of the cane juice.
Turbinado sugar is only slightly less refined than granulated sugar. It is simply the "raw" sugar that has been stripped of the nutrients and molasses flavor. Granulated sugar undergoes additional processing that turns the "raw" sugar into the white crystals found in your sugar bowl, and it retains none of sugar cane's molasses flavor.
Sucanat as an Alternative Sweetener
Sucanat can be used in any recipe that calls for white or brown sugar, according to the Time article. It works especially well in chocolate confections, baked goods, barbecue sauce and marinades. It also makes a good sweetener for your favorite beverages, such as coffee or tea, and adds a touch of molasses flavoring. You can experiment with the sweetener to see how it works best in your diet.
While sucanat may be slightly more nutritious than turbinado or granulated sugar, it is still an added sweetener, and you should limit your intake to keep your calories in check. Stick to a total added sugar limit of 6 teaspoons per day for women and 9 teaspoons for men, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 recommends.