Jaggery or unrefined sugar, also known as the non-centrifugal sugar, is a very known sweetener and is often seen consumed in many parts of Asia and some parts of America. Jaggery’s preparation focuses on melting the cane sugar in hot boiling water and leaving the molasses and crystals intact. Jaggery benefits and its color can vary depending on the level of concentration and can range somewhere between golden to dark brown in color and can vary from golden brown to dark brown in color.
Jaggery’s composition constitutes up to 20% invert sugars, 50% Sucrose, and the rest a mix of bagasse fibers, proteins, and other impurities. This sweetener has an appeal over refined sugar because of the nutritional benefits as it contains trace amounts of certain essential minerals like Vitamin- B, Magnesium, Potassium, and Iron, etc.
Process in a nutshell
Jaggery, also known as ‘Gur’ is made boiling raw sugarcane with little water until the juice within it, solidifies. Gur is mainly made from unrefined sugar and is considered a healthier alternative than sugar.
Jaggery from sugarcane is widely used as a sweet supplement along with other forms of jaggery likes the ones made from date palms and the coconut sap, which is also quite common. Jaggery is very common in Indian households and is used in all auspicious occasions, coming second only to refined sugar.
But, with health risks on the rise, more and more people are switching their preference to equivalents like honey and jaggery instead of refined sugar. The reason why switching to a sweet alternative has been smooth because of jaggery benefits. Jaggery contains certain compounds that are beneficial when consumed regularly.
This article will discuss how jaggery benefits us if we keep jaggery as ‘the option’ for sweet.
Jaggery benefits – History and closure
Benefits of jaggery have always been known to ancient man allowing jaggery to find its use in Ayurveda, and many of the medicines have the base of jaggery in it. The poignant smell of caramel that it gives out is because the formation of molasses acts as a perfect ingredient towards Ayurvedic medicines.
Thus, this ingredient has been native to our land and in constant use since the beginning of time, providing many health benefits.
According to many, Jaggery or Gur has its roots in Portugal. Still, since Indians have been using it since time immemorial, many believe that it came and grew in India initially, but the word jaggery has its roots from the Portuguese word ‘Jagara.’
Jaggery is famous the most during the winter season, with very high demand in the market. The people belonging to the winter areas eat jaggery to keep their body temperature moderate and warm enough to fight the cold.
Jaggery health benefits
- Jaggery works as a natural cleaner in flushing out all kinds of toxins from the body and protecting the body against unwanted viruses.
- It works as a natural heat raising tool as once consumed, it increases the blood flow in the body, causing the person to flush and feel hot. Therefore, people from icy areas in India drink it regularly with tea or otherwise
- have magical properties to cleanse the blood. Consuming jaggery usually helps in cleansing the blood. The antioxidants in the jaggery along with the presence of minerals like selenium and zinc ignite resistance against diseases.
- Increasing the immunity of the body, keeping it safe from intruders, is one of the known Jaggery health benefits. It happens because of the presence of essential minerals in jaggery like zinc & selenium
- Jaggery benefits the body in relieving it from menstrual cramps. Consuming jaggery increases the release of endorphins, thus reducing menstrual cramps.
- Jaggery benefits also include preparing the human body to fight against Anaemia. Jaggery maintains a normal RBC count in the body due to presence of iron and folate
- The presence of potassium and Sodium in jaggery helps the acid levels of the body to remain at a reasonable level initiating normal BP levels
- The jaggery aids in asthma and respiratory problems as the anti-inflammatory properties of jaggery increases the heat of the body, removing toxins from around the nasal and chest area. It is one of the most sought- after jaggery benefits.
- One of the significant jaggery benefits is also weight loss initiation as the presence of potassium leads to metabolism boost and providing energy. During weight reduction, jaggery is your best friend as it has empty calories that won’t harm the body and is a perfect choice as a natural sweetener.
Benefits of Gur for pregnant women:
- Jaggery is extensively favored and sought out for even in the case of pregnant women. Gur or jaggery is healthy enough to consume in case of pregnancy to keep the flow of blood and level of blood intact.
- Maintaining a proper hemoglobin count ensures safe delivery. Eating jaggery can help maintain hormonal imbalances, strengthens weakened immune systems, and helps reduce pain keeping inflation at bay.
- Jaggery is a good source of glucose, which, as a natural energy booster, works great for pregnant women instead of consuming other options that might contain sugar.
- Helping the pregnant body to avoid water retention is one of the other benefits of gur.
- It acts as a natural diuretic, which helps in aiding from constipation in pregnant women by kicking- in the enzymes needed for digestion, in turn, offering relief to the bowel. Gur also helps in quick digestion.
- Pregnant women in advanced stages of pregnancy often deal with aches in pains. Drinking a glass of milk with jaggery will help relieve the pain and the ache.
- After delivery, a mix of jaggery and til or black sesame seeds along ginger and ghee is a must, to help with post-delivery wear and tear to help the mother heal internally.
- Gur benefits also help in treating Flu symptoms by mixing jaggery with turmeric and milk or tea.
Nutritional information of jaggery:
Jaggery has a composition of a lot of minerals that blankets the body and provides energy to increase immunity and fight for any infection.
The composition of jaggery includes trace and considerable amounts of Phosphorus, Potassium, Calcium, Magnesium, and Sodium.
When to consume jaggery
Usually eaten after meals, it performs the critical function of activating the digestive enzymes within the body, aiding to proper digestion of the food eaten. Jaggery detoxes the body by flushing out the toxins from the liver and helping to digest the food. Its antioxidants help the breakdown of food in a much quicker time, assisting the body to breathe.
The darker it is, the more vibrant it is
One interesting fact about jaggery is the more mysterious is the color of the jaggery, the richer the flavor should be.
Jaggery is no longer a national product. The jaggery benefits have crossed our national boundaries and have become quite a name in international cuisines too like-
- Prawn and crabmeat dumplings in a jaggery reduced syrup
- It’s also a hot favorite in making aubergines.
- Jaggery fritters.
Melted jaggery has made its way into many desserts and sweets in India as it gives out the caramel flavor of the jaggery engulfing the dish and making it look and taste incredible. The most common form of jaggery used in Indian households are in the way of-
- Kheer, or rice pudding made by melting jaggery, and milk and raisins, is one of the delicacies that is built across India in various forms and is considered one of the auspicious foods by the Indian people.
- Jaggery or Gur melted and roasted with til, and then finally, once it prepared, these are made into the small ball-shaped structure.
Till now, we all have only been discussing how jaggery benefits the body in every way. But’ Gur’ if consumed excessively & regularly, can lead you to a bed of other problems.
Also, if jaggery is not made correctly or is impaired, then consuming too much of that may lead to health problems. Hence buying it from a trusted vendor or buying organic jaggery is a much better alternative.
Indian people have a solid sweet tooth, and jaggery being a natural sweetener, works for them amazingly. Thus, thinking it to be natural sugar, people tend to consume more, which is detrimental to their health.
Therefore, jaggery, only when consumed in restricted quantities, manages us to enjoy its benefits.
Side- effects of Gur or jaggery
In the points below, we shall discuss overconsumption of jaggery can harm the body in a long- term perspective:
- Increase in blood sugar level
- Increase in weight gain
- Allergic reactions.
- May lead to constipation
- Encourages parasitic infection
Increased level of Blood sugar
Jaggery, when consumed in limited proportions, can act like magic on the human body, but if consumed beyond that, it will lead to harm. Jaggery, as a sweetener, is everyone’s favorite, but diabetes patients should be extra careful while consuming anything with jaggery regularly as continuous consumption can increase their blood sugar levels.
- Leads to weight gain: if overeaten, tends to increase calories inside your body, encouraging your body to gain weight.
- Cases of allergy:
- if consumed in too much of a quantity, it can lead to nausea, vomiting, cold, etc. refereeing to classic symptoms of the cold. This kind of cold cause by jaggery is long-lasting, and if not treated, a permanent allergic reaction can be set in the body avoiding all future consumption of jaggery
- Leads to constipation:
- use of freshly- prepared jaggery can cause a real bad constipation situation in the body as the refined jaggery still needs time to settle down before consuming it.
- High chances of parasitic infection:
- Many times jaggery produced in manufacturable quantities lacks purity if not cleaned well. Such impure product is usually not right to consume and is very harmful to the body. Thus, consuming the kind of jaggery, and any type of jaggery under unhygienic conditions can cause severe parasitic infection and can be detrimental to the body.
Sugar Vs. Jaggery
- The cost of sugar is high as compared to jaggery. It happens because sugar production is a capital – intensive business with many technicalities involved. Still, jaggery production is easy, and the technicalities are almost null, leading to minimal investment.
- The production of jaggery is seasonal as it depends on the growth of sugar cane, which in turn depends on mother nature. But Sugar production is not seasonal and takes place throughout. That is why when jaggery’s production stops during the non- season time, the price of sugar increases by almost two times.
- Jaggery has a low shelf life than sugar of a maximum of 6 months before bringing in the new batch. Still, sugar has a longer shelf life than jaggery making it fit to use in households who buy sugar and jaggery in large amounts at wholesale prices. That is why, too, the demand for sugar is more.
- The quantity of sugar in a cup of tea is always less than the amount of jaggery used for the same cup to exert similar amounts of sweetness.
Right quality jaggery certainty conditions?
While preparing for refining and cleaning the jaggery for everyone’s consumption, the following points should be kept in mind to get good quality jaggery:
- The best jaggery preparation involves removing all elements of juice and retaining other components such as sucrose, inorganics (phosphates, iron, and calcium), organics (higher proteins and fats), and reducing sugars.
- Controlling the color variant by prevention of unwanted development of color and sucrose inversion during the process of boiling and concentration.
- An expert crystallization process is essential for good quality jaggery.
- Taking a note towards preventing the jaggery from charring and overheating.
- No addition of any unsuitable health preservative to lengthen the shelf life of the jaggery
Thus Gur, as a very gastronomical ingredient, appeals to people at any time of the day who doesn’t hesitate, provided its benefits. But a consideration of the quantity taken will help you enjoy jaggery for a more extended period of your life. This sweetening agent is natural and one of a kind, and all should undoubtedly discover its excellent benefits.