Brown sugar gets its color from its molasses content. Pure molasses is black or very dark brown. The molasses adds moisture to the brown sugar, which can sometimes lead to clumping. Bakers use brown sugar to keep foods like oatmeal cookies soft.
A half-cup of packed brown sugar -- either light or dark -- contains 418 calories. Light brown sugar has a lighter color and taste because it contains less molasses than dark brown sugar. Light brown sugar is often used for baking, while the darker version is used in foods that require stronger flavors, such as baked beans and gingerbread.
Texture and Flavor
Brown sugar gets its distinctive flavor and soft texture from its molasses content. Molasses, a thick, dark syrup extracted from sugar cane, is rich in minerals such as potassium and magnesium. This makes brown sugar more nutritious than white sugar, which contains no molasses.
Brown sugar is higher in vitamins and minerals than white sugar. A 1/2 cup measure of brown sugar contains 91 mg of calcium, while the same amount of white sugar has only 1 mg. Half a cup of white sugar contains only 2 mg of potassium, but brown sugar has 146 mg.