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Jaggery – Friend or Foe?

I am emotionally attached as I have been consuming jaggery ever since I was a baby. It is packed with several nutrients and has been a tradition in India for decades.

I personally call Jaggery an Indian superfood!

What Is Jaggery?

Jaggery is an unrefined sugar prepared from sugarcane juice in Asia and Africa. It is also known as “non-centrifugal sugar,” because the sugar cane juice is boiled and evaporated to attain fine granules which are packed with many minerals and vitamins ~ Iron, potassium, Manganese, Calories and countless more. Mostly, good quality jaggery is lighter in the shade (said my mother, and mothers are always right!) with over 70% sucrose, 10% fructose and other minerals. Jaggery can be a sugar substitute, however, must be monitored.

Given various names in different parts of the world:

  1. Gur in India

  2. Kokuto in Japan

  3. Piloncillo in Mexico

  4. Gula Melaka or Gula Merah in Malaysia

  5. Kyan Tha Kar in Burma

How old is a tradition to use Jaggery?

Used by Ayurveda in India for about 5000 years to solve many problems like Blood purification, Migraine, Anemia, Constipation and control PMS!!

Jaggery has been a significant part of my family diet for the longest of I know.

“The gritty brown sugar of India is guda in Sanskrit, gur in Hindi, vellam in Tamil and jaggery in English,” ~ food historian K.T. Achaya in A Historical Dictionary of Indian Food.

It was recognised by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), United Nations (UN) only in the mid-’60s as a unique solution to empty calories = Table Sugar.

What are the benefits?

Jaggery maintains electrolyte balance and helps prevent water retention due to the presence of potassium. Sugar makes it difficult and spikes up blood sugar level that is not good for health.

Sweets such as Tilgud Laddu were made from sesame seeds and Jagger during a prime winter harvesting season to control body temperature.

Adding jaggery in tea will result in a great detox drink. It acts like a cleansing agent.

Ginger in tea, when combined with jaggery, will help to improve immunity and keep you away from the common cold and allergies.

A common practice in India is to consume a small piece of Jaggery after a meal is to promote digestion.

Being a thalassemia minor, my parents always encouraged me to consume Jaggery with dry coconut to boost the Iron in the blood that gets absorbed faster through Jaggery than plant sources.

Some picture of the jaggery available in the house.

Is Jaggery bad for health?

Though Jaggery is considered an alternative and has a few shreds of evidence to be better than sugar, it is recommended to read the label carefully and purchase the right quality product.

Overconsumption of any food has adverse effects on the body such as Obesity, Type-2 Diabetes and Heart Diseases. One must remember that Jaggery is after all a sugar and must be considered using in proportion.

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