You might have noticed your parents and grandparents eat jaggery with their daily meals. Ever thought of the reason behind it? There are many jaggery health benefits that make it such a popular ingredient in most kitchens. Famously known as 'Gur' or 'Gud' in most Indian households, jaggery is quite rightly recommended by experts to replace sugar due to the ample nutrients that it carries. There's lots of information on jaggery that you might not be aware of and one must understand all the jaggery benefits but before that, let's start by giving you an insight into what is jaggery.
What is Jaggery?
Jaggery is known as a natural sweetener that is made out of sugar cane juice or palm sap. It tastes similar to fresh cane juice, caramel, molasses or maple syrup - it all depends on its contents. The shade of unrefined jaggery varies from light amber to golden brown to dark brown. Sugar cane jaggery is sweeter than jaggery which is made out of the toddy palm or the date palm.
Benefits of Eating Jaggery:
Now that you know what is jaggery, let us tell you about the various jaggery health benefits.
Jaggery Benefits for the Body:
Jaggery benefits your body in several ways, some of which are mentioned below.
1. Jaggery Benefits for Hair:
One of the best benefits of gud for hair is that it can promote hair growth and prevent hair fall due to the presence of iron in it. This natural sweetener is loaded with iron (1) that can help produce haemoglobin that leads to better blood circulation to the roots of your hair. If you have an iron deficiency, it can lead to hair fall or slower hair growth. Hence, eating jaggery in any form with your daily diet can help with maintaining hair health.
2. Jaggery Benefits for Skin:
Benefits of jaggery for skin are mainly due to the presence of glycolic acid in it as it aids in correcting skin issues (2) . Jaggery is popularly considered a superfood in Ayurveda due to its medical properties. When you consume jaggery with sesame seeds and essential herbs, it can prevent premature ageing as this natural sweetener is packed with antioxidants that can effectively fight free radicals. One of the best benefits of jaggery for skin is that it can reduce pimples or acne issues as the glycolic acid in it acts as a mild exfoliator. Thus, you can rely on jaggery to give you the spotless and clear skin of your dreams.
Season-Specific Jaggery Benefits:
1. Jaggery Benefits in Winter:
One of the jaggery benefits in winter is that it can keep you warm in cold weather. Jaggery can successfully enhance the metabolism process in your body and produce heat which helps dilate the blood vessels and improve blood flow in your body. If you often get migraines due to the cold weather, jaggery can help you feel better as it is rich in iron, magnesium, calcium, zinc, manganese and potassium (3) - all of which can help you deal with a migraine attack efficiently.
2. Jaggery Benefits in Summer:
One of the many jaggery benefits in summer is that it can amp up your energy levels. The hot weather often tends to drain your energy and make you feel dehydrated, that's the reason why so many people sip on some jaggery water as it boosts your energy levels and prevents fatigue and weakness in your body. Including jaggery in your daily diet can also help tackle constipation issues during summer as this natural sweetener activates the digestive enzymes in your body that help stimulate bowel movements.
Jaggery in Pregnancy:
As you already know that jaggery is packed with iron, and it can play a vital role in the growth of healthy blood cells that are important during pregnancy. Consuming jaggery every day can also help strengthen bones and joints as it contains magnesium which can help pregnant women with managing the extra weight. Many pregnant women face digestion issues and so, jaggery can come to the rescue as it can cause the secretion of digestive enzymes which betters the digestive system. This natural sweetener can also eliminate wastes and toxins from the pregnant woman's system which leads to building pure blood. It has several anti-bacterial properties that can help in avoiding infections during pregnancy.
How is Jaggery Prepared?
The extraction process of preparing jaggery starts by pressing or crushing sugarcanes in a machine where all the juice is extracted from them. Once the juice is collected, it is stored in large containers for several hours. This process is needed for separating suspended sediment from the juice and to improve the texture of the final product. The storage helps settle the sediments to the bottom of the container which allows the clear juice to be poured into a large flat-bottomed vessel for boiling. This clear sugarcane juice needs to be stirred constantly while boiling to sieve away all the impurities till a brown and thick paste at the bottom of the vessel is achieved. This substance is then placed into moulds of desired shapes and left to cool down. Once this dough-like paste cools down completely, it solidifies and turns into jaggery. The colour and texture of jaggery depend on the quality of sugarcane and its juice, so it's never predictable.
Nutritional Value of Jaggery:
100 grams of jaggery contain the following nutrients:
- Sucrose: 65–85 g
- Calories: 100
- Fructose and glucose: 10–15 g
- Calcium: approximately 5% DV
- Potassium: 22.5% DV
- Protein: 5.6% daily value (DV)
- Magnesium: approximately 19% DV
- Phosphorus: approximately 5% DV
- Manganese: approximately 15% DV
- Iron: 61% DV
- Vitamin C: 7.8% DV
- Vitamin A: 422% DV
- Vitamin E: 740% DV
Jaggery vs Brown Sugar:
As compared to brown sugar, jaggery is prepared by natural means without the use of chemicals, synthetic additives or preservatives which makes it rich in vitamins, minerals and proteins. Brown sugar, on the other hand, is produced either directly from cane juice or by reigning raw sugar. So in both cases, it requires the addition of unnatural additives like syrups, molasses and demerara. Although replacing white sugar with brown sugar is better, choosing to go for jaggery is a lot better as there are many benefits of gud for your health.
Different Ways to Consume Jaggery:
Jaggery is readily available in Indian grocery stores or online in small cone shapes and powdered form. Here are some uses of jaggery that will help you use this ingredient better.
- In bread and rice: You can use jaggery in making sweetened whole-wheat flatbreads called meethi rotis or gur ki kheer which is made mainly with rice, milk and raisins.
- In savoury dishes: Jaggery can also be used to balance out savoury stews like moong dal or spiced sauces and curries.
- In desserts and confections: One of the best uses of jaggery can be done to make laddoos that are made with a blend of whole wheat flour, nuts, dried fruits and ghee. It can also be used with tamarind pulp to make candies.
- In Ayurvedic medicine: Jaggery is loaded with antioxidants and vitamin C. And as there are several jaggery benefits, it can be used in Ayurvedic medicine to better many bodily elements that influence wellness. In a lot of Ayurvedic medicines, the addition of jaggery helps with digestion as well.
Side Effects of Jaggery:
While there are ample jaggery health benefits, it can have some side effects on your body. Here is what you need to look out for.
- Allergies: If you are sensitive to sugar, jaggery can cause an allergic reaction. Hence you must limit the intake of jaggery in daily meals.
- Constipation: If you consume excessive amounts of jaggery, it can negatively affect your digestive system and cause bowel movement difficulty which can cause indigestion and constipation.
- Interrupts blood sugar levels: Jaggery is surely beneficial for your health, but it still contains sugar which can be problematic for diabetic people. Hence, people with diabetes should avoid consuming jaggery as the hyperglycemia in it can increase blood sugar levels.
Fittify uses jaggery instead of sugar in the Vegan Peanut Butter. Saffola Fittify Vegan Protein - Peanut Butter is made from the finest quality of peanuts, jaggery, stabilizer and iodized salt. It is packed with all the goodness of high protein and fiber, so indulge yourself in the rich and delicious taste of the vegan Protein Peanut Butter with every scoop of it.
Jaggery is called the pantry powerhouse as it's packed with a lot of essential nutrients. Other than all the health benefits mentioned above, jaggery for weight loss, lungs, cough and pollution also works really well. It is said to work excellently to cure menstrual cramps as well. All in all, moderate consumption of jaggery every day will improve your overall health to a great level.
Is it safe to eat jaggery every day?
Yes, as long as you're eating moderate amounts of jaggery every day, it will benefit your health in a lot of ways. Overconsumption of the same might lead to the above-mentioned side effects.
When is the best time to consume jaggery?
You can eat jaggery after every meal each day as it helps in preventing constipation and activates the digestive enzymes in your body thus making digestion a whole lot better.
Is jaggery helpful for weight loss?
Jaggery for weight loss works well as it is a great source of potassium that can aid in balancing out electrolytes, and boost metabolism while building muscles. Potassium can also help decrease water retention in your body which usually plays a big role in weight loss.
Who should not eat jaggery?
Young and older adults who have swallowing issues should avoid eating jaggery pieces. Also, diabetic patients must avoid jaggery as it can spike blood sugar levels.
How much jaggery can be consumed in a day?
Around 10 grams of jaggery can be consumed in a day after meals. 10 grams of jaggery contains 16 milligrams of minerals.
Can diabetics eat jaggery?
Diabetics should avoid eating jaggery as it can mess up blood sugar levels due to the high glycemic index. Although it might not be as dangerous as white sugar, diabetics must avoid jaggery as it is still considered unsafe.
Why is jaggery costlier than sugar?
Jaggery is usually produced in small factories by farmers that can produce from 1 ton to 5 tons of it. On the other hand, sugar factories produce from 10000 to 25000 tons of sugar each day. Jaggery production is also a labour-intensive process, while sugar production is a mechanised process.
How to ensure that jaggery is chemical-free?
White or light brown jaggery might be adulterated at times using chemicals and artificial colours that include sodium bicarbonate and calcium carbonate. So, you can look for jaggery that is dark brown in colour or simply read the ingredient list on a branded packet of jaggery.