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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 flavor.

Minerals and Nutrients

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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, sulfur dioxide and formic acid.

Color, Texture and Flavor

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

Dissolving Rate

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

Shelf Life

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