Elders often end their meals with Jaggery. One might assume that its sweet, heavenly taste is what makes it popular. However, this naturally sweetening food has enormous health benefits. Made primarily from raw, concentrated sugarcane juice that is boiled until it solidifies, it is essentially a type of unrefined sugar. Also known as Gur, it can be made from date palm (Nolen Gur of West Bengal) or the sap of coconut too. Jaggery is a major part of one’s staple diet in most parts of India. It is known as ‘bella’ in Kannada, ‘Vellam’ in Tamil and ‘Gul’ in Marathi. Before learning about the health benefits of this nutritious food, let’s understand how different it is from white sugar, honey, and brown sugar.
Calorie Count and Nutrition Value
Jaggery has enormous health benefits which make it the ideal sweetener. Just 20 grams of it contains 38 calories and has 9.8 gram of carbohydrates, 9.7 gram of sugar, 0.01 gram of protein, choline, betaine, Vitamin B12, B6, folate, calcium, iron, phosphorus, magnesium, selenium, and manganese. It has no traces of any kind of fat so one can readily add it to their diet without worrying about excessive fat intake. However, its sugar content is similar to that of white sugar, so patients suffering from diabetes should avoid overconsumption.
Jaggery vs. Sugar – The healthier option?
Numerous health professionals recommend replacing sugar with jaggery to obtain greater nutritional values from a sweetener. While both may be processed, sugar is mainly in the form of translucent, white crystals while jaggery can either be golden brown or dark brown in colour. The former undergoes rigorous industrial processes, such as treatment with charcoal, due to which its nutritional value is lost. On the other hand, the latter undergoes no excessive treatment except the boiling of sugarcane syrup. This ensures the retention of traces of iron, mineral salts and fiber in it. These minerals and plant phytochemicals are useful remedies for several ailments. This natural sweetener is an effective way to boost immunity, regulate body temperature, enrich the skin, improve digestion and cure joint pain, apart from a number of other mind-blowing health benefits.
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Jaggery vs. brown sugar vs. honey
Jaggery is prepared by natural means without the use of any chemicals, preservatives or synthetic additives. Therefore, it contains a number of proteins, minerals, and vitamins. Many people often consider this golden brown sweetener and brown sugar to be the same thing. However brown sugar is produced either directly from cane juice or by refining raw sugar. Both cases require the addition of a variety of molasses, syrups, and demerara. Hence, brown sugar contains unnatural additives as well. Adding brown sugar is certainly better than adding refined white sugar, but jaggery is a much better alternative. Another way to make your desserts or everyday snacks healthier is by adding honey. It is rich in Vitamin B, C, and potassium while jaggery is rich in copper, iron, and magnesium. Hence, the decision to add either of these two to one’s diet depends on their taste.
Jaggery good for diabetes?
Diabetic patients often get sweet cravings and turn to various forms of sweeteners. Though these patients might consider jaggery a better alternative than sugar, the truth is that it too contains high levels of sugar. There is almost 65%-85% of sucrose in 10 grams of jaggery. Therefore, people with diabetes are advised to not consume it regularly. Furthermore, even Ayurveda does not recommend its consumption for diabetic patients.
Jaggery and weight loss
After considering the sugar content of jaggery, many believe that it’s fattening. On the contrary, it facilitates quick digestion since it is rich in nutrients. Moreover, it flushes out toxins from the body and cleanses the blood as well. The nutrients help to maintain electrolyte balance, thereby improving metabolism and the presence of potassium enables water retention, through which one can effectively manage their weight. Therefore, consuming this sweet nutrient-packed food in monitored amounts daily can greatly aid weight loss.
Jaggery Health Benefits
We discuss some of the health benefits of this popular food sweetener below:
Prevention of respiratory problems
For those who have frequent respiratory tract problems, jaggery could be one of the most beneficial solutions. One can prevent asthma, bronchitis, etc. by including the same in their diet. It is better if one consumes jaggery along with sesame seeds. This combination is ideal for treating respiratory problems.
Helps with weight loss
Weight gain is an issue most people have to deal with. A trusted remedy to foster weight loss is a moderate intake of jaggery. It is a good source of potassium that helps balance electrolytes, boosting metabolism as well as building muscles. Moreover, potassium can also help reduce water retention in one’s body, hence, playing a major role in weight loss.
Controls blood pressure
The presence of potassium and sodium in jaggery helps maintain acid levels in the body. This, in turn, maintains normal blood pressure levels. So if someone suffers from high or low blood pressure, including it in their diet would be of great help!
Great source of energy
Unlike sugar that offers short-lived energy boost, jaggery provides gradual energy that lasts for a longer time. This is because it is unrefined, which ensures that blood sugar levels aren’t altered immediately and rises slowly instead. This, in turn, can help prevent fatigue as well.
Relieves menstrual pain
Jaggery is a natural remedy to ease pain occurring from menstrual cramps. Additionally, those who experience mood swings or frustration before their periods should also eat the same in small amounts since it helps to release endorphins that relax one’s body.
To prevent anemia, it is required that adequate levels of RBCs are maintained in the body along with iron and folate. Jaggery is rich in both iron and folate, hence, a good way to prevent anemia. Doctors often recommend its intake to adolescents and pregnant women.
Purifies the body
People commonly consume jaggery after meals since it is one of the best natural cleansing agents for the body. Eating this food can help remove all kinds of unwanted particles from the intestines, stomach, food pipe, lungs, and the respiratory tract successfully.
Detoxification of the liver
Jaggery is a natural cleansing agent, especially for the liver. The natural sweetener helps flush out harmful toxins from one’s body. This further helps to detoxify the liver. Hence, those suffering from diseases associated with the liver should start eating Jaggery.
Consumption of the nutrient-packed sweetener helps to stimulate bowel movements and activation of digestive enzymes in one’s body. Whenever you’ve eaten a heavy meal, just consume some of this nutritious natural sweetener and reduce the risk of constipation.
Treatment of cold and cough
Jaggery also helps cure flu-like symptoms such as cold and cough. It leads to the production of heat in one’s body thereby fighting the cold. To reap better benefits, do mix Jaggery in warm milk or use it as a sweetener in your tea.
Reduces joint pain
For people suffering from arthritis or any kind of pain in the joints, the consumption of jaggery can provide immense pain relief. When eaten with ginger, the effectiveness only improves.
Consumption of jaggery on a regular basis in moderate amounts can aid in blood purification. This is also the reason why it is effective in treating acne or pimples as cleaner blood also means healthier skin. Additionally, the total hemoglobin count in blood also increases with the consumption of the right amount of it.
Antioxidants and minerals like selenium and zinc are present in substantial quantities in jaggery. This helps in preventing free radical damage along with building resistance against various infections. This is why it is eaten frequently in winters.
Cures urinary tract problems
Sugarcane is a natural diuretic, so jaggery too possesses this property. Reducing inflammation of the bladder, stimulating urination and improving the smooth flow of urine are some issues that regular intake of this nutritious food item can easily help with.
Maintains good intestinal health
Jaggery is rich in magnesium. Every 10 g of the food contains 16 mg of the mineral. So, if one consumes even 10 grams of it, he or she would’ve fulfilled 4% daily requirement of this mineral in our lives. Therefore, eating it on a daily basis can lead to good intestinal health.
This dark brown natural sweetener is easily available in all parts of India. However, do ensure that the jaggery you purchase is 100% natural. Make it a part of your daily diet, and you’ll start observing its benefits on your own.