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Jaggery and Sugar: Better Health Benefits of Using Jaggery Over Sugar
Jaggery and Sugar: Introduction
Jaggery is a common sweetener used since olden days which has numerous health benefits. According to Ayurveda, a branch of traditional medicine, jaggery contains various mineral salts, iron, antioxidants, and fiber which are beneficial for human body. Jaggery has many medicinal uses. It is a cure for many ailments when consumed daily in natural form.
Jaggery production I saw during my childhood:
During my childhood days, I have seen jaggery making in my village. The production was taking place in the local farm. As my parents used to grow sugarcane, the harvest was sent to the same jaggery unit for making jaggery. During that time, we used to visit the unit to see the process of making jaggery and also to eat the fresh, and hot liquid jaggery. We used to make a cup shape using a big leaf and eat fresh jaggery in it. Even now, there are a few jaggery making units in our village, though the number is reduced when compared to earlier days.
On the other hand, sugar is refined molasses when all impurities are removed from sugarcane juice, bleached, crystallized, and polished again to form white sugar crystals. Table sugar is pure sucrose.
Hence, although sugar and jaggery both are produced from sugarcane juice, they fall apart in their properties. The main reason for this difference is due to the process involved in their production.
Production of Jaggery and Sugar :
The initial stage of making jaggery and sugar are same. The first step is the boiling of sugarcane juice. Then onwards, the procedure differs from one another.
In the case of sugar, after boiling of sugarcane juice, the syrup is treated with charcoal(bone charcoal preferred) to absorb the unwanted particles, impurities, and to get a clear, transparent solution. Then, this solution condenses and crystallizes to form the commonly found form of sugar.
Table sugar comprises of only sucrose. It has neutral taste in its sweetness. Hence, it is preferred in making of various sweet dishes, certain baking and cooking process, where jaggery can not be substituted.
In the case of jaggery, there is no treatment with charcoal or there is no crystallization process. Hence, in India, Hindus consider jaggery sacred while sugar is not. For making jaggery, sugarcane syrup is boiled continuously until it forms a thick paste. Then, it is poured into molds to make jaggery of desired shape and size.
However, in many cases, lime is used in the making of jaggery, for improving the color and also to get the preservative benefits. Sulfur Dioxide is also added sometimes in the process which acts as a bleaching agent. In some cases, Sodium bicarbonate is used in jaggery making.
The composition of Jaggery and Sugar:
There is not much difference calorie-wise between jaggery and sugar. Jaggery contains about 50% sucrose, up to 20% invert sugars, and up to 20% moisture. The remaining portion is made of insoluble matter such as wood ash, proteins, and fibers.
The dark brown jaggery may not contain the above chemicals and will be better for health. Jaggery provides the body many mineral salts, iron, and fiber that are not found in sugar. Sugar is the empty calorie with the sweet flavor.
Health Benefits of Jaggery:
Jaggery is essentially unrefined sugar which is obtained from raw, concentrated sugarcane juice. Though jaggery can be made from other sources, namely from the date palm, and the sap of coconut, the one made from sugarcane juice is the most commonly used.
According to a renowned nutritionist and obesity consultant, jaggery is the closest substitute for white sugar and is healthy too. Sometimes, it can be used exactly like sugar, as you get jaggery in powder, solid, and liquid form. Jaggery, unlike sugar which adds empty calories, has many health benefits for your body.
1. Prevents constipation:
Jaggery helps prevent constipation by stimulating bowel movements. It activates the digestive enzymes in the body and thus helps in proper digestion of food. This may be the reason why many people eat a piece of jaggery after their meals.
2. A good remedy for the anemics:
Jaggery is an excellent source of iron that is responsible for hemoglobin in the blood. Hence, adding jaggery in the food preparation or eating a piece of jaggery on daily basis can fulfill your daily requirement of iron. This, in turn, lowers the risk of anemia.
3. A good cleansing agent:
If you want to detox your body, eat a piece of jaggery. It helps to detoxify your liver by flushing out toxins from your body.
4. A treatment for a cough & cold:
Flu-like symptoms, cough &cold, water retention, and bloating are certain common ailments we experience on a daily basis. You can fight these symptoms by consuming jaggery. Add a piece of jaggery to warm water or add it to your coffee or tea instead of sugar to reap the required result.
It is also used to cure a dry cough, cough with sputum, indigestion, and constipation. It has antioxidants which protect your body cells against aging.
I have noticed during my childhood that my mother used to welcome guests who came to our house on sunny days, by offering them fresh water and pieces of jaggery, as an initial treat.
5. Increases immunity:
Jaggery is loaded with antioxidants and minerals like zinc and selenium which aid in preventing free radicals damage and also boosts resistance against infections.
6. Reduces Pre-Menstrual Syndrome:
Sometimes females experience sudden mood swings just before their periods. This symptom can be reduced or prevented by daily eating of a small piece of jaggery. Mostly, this problem is caused due to fluctuations in hormone levels in the body which can be neutralized by jaggery. It relaxes your body and makes you feel better.
7. Jaggery is absorbed slowly:
Sugar is absorbed almost instantly into your body. Jaggery, being unrefined and complex sucrose, is absorbed slowly. This way, it does not increase blood sugar level as rapidly as sugar.
8. Jaggery is good for lungs:
According to Ayurveda, jaggery protects lungs and is considered effective in curing throat and lung infections. It is observed that workers who work in the dusty and smoky atmosphere such as silica industries, woolen textile industries eat a small portion of jaggery to clear their throat and windpipes. Not only that, jaggery is good for asthma patients too.
9. Jaggery helps in bile disorder:
According to Ayurveda, jaggery helps in treating bile disorders. That way, it is considered useful in the treatment of jaundice.
10. Jaggery helps in maintaining acid balance:
Jaggery is high in Potassium and low in Sodium. This helps in maintaining balance in the body. It is a known fact that jaggery when consumed with dry ginger, is a great cure for acidity and gas.
11. Jaggery is eco-friendly:
According to World Wildlife Fund, sugar industry pollutes the air, water, and soil. Jaggery is produced by boiling sugarcane juice in an iron vessel. On the other hand, sugar undergoes various treatments, purification, bleaching, and crystallization which not only involves several gallons of water but also pollutes the atmosphere. It pollutes the water in which the waste water from sugar factory is dumped. Jaggery is greener and healthier than sugar.
Home Made Sweets using Sugar and Jaggery:
A Word of Caution:
We have come to a conclusion that jaggery has more health benefits compared to sugar. Though there is no noticeable side effect of consuming jaggery, it is slightly high on the number of calories- that is 4 kcal/gram. Hence, people on weight control diet or those who are diabetic should monitor their jaggery intake. Otherwise, it may lead to weight gain and increased blood sugar level. If you have a doubt, consult your doctor for the proper daily dose of jaggery that can be safely consumed.
Source reference for the article:
www.quora.com, www.organicfacts.net, www.thehealthsite.com, www.authoritynutrition.com
Nutritional Information of Jaggery
|Serving size: 100 g|
|Calories from Fat||0|
|% Daily Value *|
|Fat 0 g|
|Saturated fat 0 g|
|Unsaturated fat 0 g|
|Carbohydrates 85 g||28%|
|Sugar 85 g|
|Cholesterol 0 mg|
|Sodium 27 mg||1%|
|* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.|