Jaggery is made from sugarcane juice or the juice from palm trees and is becoming more popular as a replacement for white sugar. It's a staple in India, where it's called gur.
Vitamins and minerals in jaggery make it healthier than white sugar. Nonetheless, it is still a type of sugar, and too much of it may harm a person's health.
The purpose of this article is to explore how manufacturers produce jaggery, what its nutrition profile and uses are, along with its holistic health benefits.
What is Jaggery?
Jaggery, popularly known as gur, is a natural sweetener that is becoming a popular healthy alternative to sugar. It is a form of unrefined sugar and a healthier alternative to white sugar.
Various types of jaggery are available in the market that vary in colour, ranging from golden brown to dark brown.
A quarter-cup serving of jaggery contains:
· Calories: 100
· Protein: around 1 gram or less
· Fat: around 1 gram or less
· Carbohydrates: around 26 grams
· Fibre: around 1 gram or less
· Sugar: around 24 grams
· Vitamin B (thiamin, riboflavin and niacin)
· Plant protein
Wondering how much jaggery to eat every day? Around 10 grams of jaggery should be enough for daily consumption. It is, without a doubt, a healthier and nutritious form of sugar, but it is still sugar. So it is essential not to overconsume it.
Types of Jaggery
1) Sugar Jaggery
Made from unfermented coconut sap, this form of jaggery is rich in magnesium and iron. It is not the usual sucrose and contains no artificial substances. Also, this form of jaggery can be effectively used in reducing the spiciness of any gravy. For its rich flavour and colour, this jaggery can be added to Indian desserts like kheer, halwa, etc.
2) Coconut Jaggery
This form of jaggery is made from unfermented coconut sap and is rich in magnesium and iron. It is not made from sucrose and contains no artificial ingredients. It is also effective at reducing the spice in any dish.
3) Palm Jaggery
Palm jaggery is derived from a palm tree and is rich in potassium, which helps reduce water retention in the body. Another feature of palm jaggery is its excellent body cleanser, which makes it perfect for promoting weight loss and gut health.
Here are 15 jaggery benefits everyone should know about:
1) Boosts Immunity: Jaggery is the best immune-boosting food. It is loaded with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other nutrients.
2) Detoxes body: It detoxifies the body by cleansing the lungs, respiratory tract, stomach, intestines, and food pipe. It also purifies the blood.
3)Treats cough and cold: Jaggery has natural properties that treat cough and cold. It soothes the throat and reduces irritation. Jaggery can be eaten raw or mixed with warm water or tea. It also works well for migraines and headaches.
4) Gives a warming effect: It is consumed during winters to provide some warmth. Gur is a source of instant energy. Amongst various jaggeries, date palm jaggery provides maximum warmth to the body.
5) Regulates blood pressure: It contains sodium and potassium that play an essential role in maintaining blood pressure.
6) Reduces risk of respiratory problems: It reduces the risk of respiratory diseases like bronchitis. Black jaggery also regulates body temperature and has anti-allergic properties.
7) Prevents anaemia and blood disorders: Jaggery is rich in iron and folate that boost the formation of haemoglobin and blood. It reduces the risk of blood disorders like anaemia.
8) Reduces risk of certain diseases: Jaggery has various antioxidants that help the nervous system function properly. It also reduces the risk of nervous disorders. Jaggery uses are linked to a lower risk of certain forms of cancer, reduced signs of ageing, and a lower risk of dementia.
9) Improves sperm quality and production: Per Ayurveda, eating jaggery and amla powder together can improve sperm quality. It boosts sperm production and eliminates body weakness in men.
10) Aids in digestion: Jaggery stimulates the release of digestive enzymes. It also reduces the risk of digestion-related disorders.
11) Treats hiccups: Jaggery can help with hiccups. Mix it with dried ginger powder and add warm water and consume.
12) Helps tackle joint pain: Eating jaggery daily can provide relief from joint pain. You can add it to a glass of milk to prevent arthritis and strengthen bones.
13) Treats urinary problems: Jaggery is a natural diuretic, meaning it stimulates urination. It also reduces bladder swelling and other urinary disorders.
14) Regulates bowel movement: It regulates bowel movement. It prevents problems such as constipation, flatulence, indigestion, etc.
15) Eases menstrual pain: Jaggery relieves cramps and stomach aches related to the menstrual cycle. It also helps in premenstrual syndrome (PMS) from fluctuations in hormone levels.
16) Jaggery for Weight Loss
You might be surprised to know that jaggery helps in shedding extra pounds as it:
- Boosts body metabolism: Gur is rich in potassium. It helps in muscle building and electrolyte balance. It also boosts the body’s metabolism.
- Reduces water retention: The minerals in jaggery help tackle water retention and thereby manage body weight.
17) Jaggery Tea Benefits
For all tea lovers, switching refined sugar with jaggery in tea will help,
- Control weight gain
- Relieve cold and cough
- Keep warm during winters
- Improve immunity
18) Jaggery Benefits for Hair
Jaggery is also rich in iron that,
- Boosts hair health
- Promotes hair growth
- Improves blood circulation on hair roots
- Makes hair strong and lustrous
- When used in a hair mask, makes hair shiny and smooth
19) Jaggery Benefits for Skin
Gur is rich in many essential minerals, vitamins and antioxidants that
- Nourishes the skin
- Reduces wrinkles
- Reduces signs of ageing
- Makes the skin glowing and healthy
- Treats acne, pimples and dark spots
How Is Jaggery Made
Jaggery is made using traditional methods of pressing and distilling palm or cane juice. This is a 3-step process -
- Extraction: Canes or palms are pressed to extract the sweet juice or sap using a press.
- Clarification: In large containers, the juice can stand so that any sediment sinks to the bottom. The juice is then strained to make a clear liquid.
- Concentration: Juice is boiled in a large pan with a flat bottom.
A yellow, dough-like paste forms after the jaggery is stirred and the impurities are skimmed off the top.
When this "dough" is transferred to moulds or containers, it cools into jaggery.
The colour can range from golden to dark brown. The jaggery’s colour and texture are essential factors in assessing its quality.
Interestingly, Indians prefer lighter shades to darker ones.
This lighter, "good quality" jaggery generally contains more than 70% sucrose. Furthermore, it contains less than 10% of sugars such as glucose and fructose and 5% minerals.
Most sugar is sold as granulated or fluid forms, but it can also be produced as solid blocks.
Jaggery Side Effects
Despite the benefits, if you consume jaggery in excess, it can lead to the following jaggery side-effects -
· Increased risk of obesity
· Increased blood sugar level
· Risk of heart diseases
· In some, it can cause discomfort and intestinal problems
Summing Up on Jaggery Benefits
As an excellent alternative to sugar, jaggery can be substituted with regular sugar, and it can even be added to curries to balance out spice levels. What makes jaggery so special are its many health benefits. Take the plunge and try jaggery regularly to satisfy your sweet tooth without jeopardising your health. However, remember to put a stop button and not overdo it. Excess of anything can have harmful effects. So, use it wisely.
Do Jaggery Increase Weight?
You might be surprised to know that jaggery helps in shedding extra pounds as it:
- Reduces water retention: Minerals in jaggery help reduce water retention and therefore help you lose weight.
- Boosts body metabolism: The potassium in Gur promotes muscle building and electrolyte balance. It enables the body's metabolic rate.
- It aids digestion: A piece of jaggery after meals activates digestive enzymes, which help in digestion. Additionally, you can eat a piece of jaggery to curb your sugar cravings if you can't resist eating something sweet after meals.
How Much Jaggery to Eat Everyday?
You can consume around 10-15 grams of jaggery every day.
Is Jaggery Good for Diabetes?
Diabetes patients need to consume foods that have a low glycemic index. Because jaggery has a high glycemic index, it is not recommended for people with diabetes
Is Jaggery Better Than Honey?
Honey is a good choice compared to jaggery as it is less processed and has a low glycemic index.
Does Jaggery Expire?
No, jaggery does not have any expiration date per se.