Organic Sugarcane Jaggery: 10 Health Benefits You Should Know About
Though we all crave for a dose of sweetness once in a while, the accompanying fear of ill-health always make us think twice. In fact, most experts recommend avoiding the usage of sugar as much possible because of its adverse effects on health. But, you don’t have to completely deprive yourself of sweets when there is a healthier alternative you can try – jaggery.
Jaggery is a natural sweetener extracted from palm or sugarcane sap which is an excellent source of sucrose. Golden brown in colour, it has a distinct taste unlike the plain sweetness of sugar. Jaggery is typically stored as powder or blocks and can be added to dishes directly. Jaggery is most commonly used to make sweets.
Furthermore, this unrefined sugar has enormous health benefits which range from controlling blood sugar to preventing anaemia. Before learning about the health benefits, let’s understand the nutritional value and a bit more scientific information about jaggery.
What is Jaggery?
Commonly manufactured in Asia and Africa, jaggery is an unrefined sugar which is also sometimes referred to as a ‘non-centrifugal sugar’. Why? Because jaggery isn’t spun during the manufacturing process to remove the nutritious molasses.
A few other non-centrifugal sugar products found in Latin America, Asia, and the Caribbean are listed below.
- Gur – India
- Panela – Colombia
- Piloncillo – Mexico
- Tapa Dulce – Costa Rica
- Namtan Tanode – Thailand
- Gula Melaka – Malaysia
- Kokuto – Japan
Nearly 70% of the world's jaggery is produced in India. It is often made from sugarcane juice, but it can also be made from the date palm.
Calorie Count and Nutrition Value
Twenty grams of jaggery contains 38 calories which are contributed by 9.8 gram of carbohydrates, 9.7 gram of sugar, and 0.01 gram of protein, choline, betaine, Vitamin B12, B6, folate, calcium, iron, phosphorus, magnesium, selenium, and manganese.
Jaggery doesn’t contain any traces of fat. Hence, you can readily add it to your diet without worrying about ingesting too much fat. Nevertheless, its sugar content is similar to that of white sugar. So, diabetes patients must avoid overconsumption.
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Jaggery Health Benefits
Including a bit of jaggery in your diet can help those suffering from frequent respiratory problems prevent asthma, bronchitis, and more. Consider consuming jaggery along with some sesame seeds as the combination is excellent to treat respiratory problems.
Obesity is an issue most people have started dealing within recent years. Moderate intake of jaggery is a trusted remedy that fosters weight loss. Being a good source of potassium, it balances electrolytes and boosts metabolism while building muscles. Moreover, potassium also reduces water retention, thus playing a prime role in weight loss.
As stated earlier, jaggery is rich in potassium and sodium, which aids maintain the acid levels in your body. This, in turn, helps maintain healthy blood pressure levels. So, if you or someone you know suffer from high/ low blood pressure, ask them to consider including jaggery to their diet.
Consuming jaggery during menstruation can ease the pain occurring from cramps. Additionally, it also helps with releasing endorphins that relax the body and controls mood swings or frustration that are common during that time of the month.
The right level of RBCs, iron, and folate should be maintained within a person’s body to prevent anaemia. Jaggery is rich in iron and folate, hence a great way to prevent anaemia. Doctors often recommend adolescents and pregnant women to intake jaggery.
People often consume jaggery after meals as they believe it to be a natural cleansing agent. Eating jaggery removes all unwanted particles from your stomach, intestine, lungs, food pipe, and respiratory tract successfully.
Jaggery is a natural cleansing agent, especially when it comes to the liver. This brown coloured sweetener flushes out harmful toxins and detoxifies the liver. So, people suffering from liver-related diseases can start eating jaggery.
Jaggery is commonly used to treat flu-like symptoms like cold and cough. It results in raising the temperature of one's body, thereby fighting a cold. To reap maximum benefits, mix jaggery in warm milk or add it in your tea.
Jaggery is a substantial source of minerals like zinc and selenium, which helps in the prevention of free radical damage alongside building resistance against various infections. For this reason, jaggery is usually eaten in winters.
Being a rich source of magnesium, consuming just 10 grams jaggery fills you with 16 mg of the mineral, helping you fulfil 4% of the daily requirement. Eat jaggery on a regular basis, and you will be guaranteed good intestinal health.
Jaggery Vs. Sugar – Which is Healthier?
Often, many health professional recommend switching from sugar to jaggery as it offers more significant nutritional benefits than the white sweetener. Though both sugar and jaggery are processed, sugar comes in the form of translucent white crystals while jaggery can be either dark brown or golden brown in colour. This is because sugar undergoes harsh industrial processes such as treatment with charcoal, where it loses its nutritional value. On the other hand, jaggery doesn't go through rigorous treatments except the boiling of sugarcane syrup. The simple process ensures the retention of small amounts of mineral salts, iron, and fibre ion the condiment.
All the mineral salt, along with the vitamins and plant phytochemicals helps prevent specific ailments and acts, are a cure for several health conditions. Hence, this natural sweetener is effective in boosting immunity, regulating body temperature, improving digestion, enriching skin, and curing joint pain alongside the various other fabulous health benefits.
Furthermore, another reason why jaggery contains more nutrients than refined sugar is because of its molasses content. Molasses is a by-product of the sugar manufacturing process which is typically removed and is nutritious. The molasses plus the small amount all other micronutrients make the final product – jaggery – a healthy sweetener worth considering.