Sugar is one of the commonly used sweeteners across the world. It sweetens the taste of food or drinks making them more delicious. It is a go-to for those with a sweet tooth.
But do not be surprised to know that the nutritional content of sugar is very low.
There are a lot of alternatives for sugar but jaggery can be the best option. Even though sugar and jaggery come from the same source, sugarcane, but one is healthier than the other.
What is Jaggery?
Jaggery is an unrefined sugar which is also referred to as non-centrifugal sugar.
It is made by a traditional method of pressing and distilling palm or sugarcane. The three steps of making jaggery are:(1)
- Extraction: The sugar cane or palms are pressed to extract the juice or the sap.
- Clarification: The juice is then kept in large containers so that if there is any sediment, it settles in the bottom. The juice is then strained.
- Concentration: The juice is then boiled in large flat bottom pans.
Jaggery is stirred during the process and the impurities which come at are skimmed until only a yellow, dough-like paste remains.
The paste is then transferred to the containers or molds where it can cool off.
Why Is Jaggery More Nutritious Than Sugar?
Because of its molasses content jaggery contains more nutrients than the refined sugar.
Molasses are a nutritious by-product of the sugar-making process which is removed while making refined sugar.
A 100 grams cup of jaggery contains:(2)
- 383 calories
- 10-15 grams of fructose and glucose
- 65-85 grams of sucrose
- 0.1 grams of fat
- 0.4 grams of protein
- 61% of RDI of iron
- 70-90 mg of RDI of magnesium
- 30% of RDI of potassium
- 10-20 % of RDI of manganese
Jaggery also contains a small amount of B vitamins, calcium, phosphorus, and copper.
What are the Health Benefits of Jaggery?
Jaggery is now being opted instead of the refined sugar due to the various health benefits it is known for. Let’s have a look at whether the benefits are a fact or just a fiction.
Improves Digestive Health
In some countries, jaggery is often eaten after meals.
Some people claim that eating jaggery helps with digestion and stimulates bowel movements. This can make it a good choice for those suffering from constipation.
It is therefore unlikely that it would help prevent constipation.
There are studies that suggest that iron in non-centrifugal sugars is absorbed by the body more easily than from any other plant source.(4)
Jaggery contains 11 grams of iron per 100 grams. This is really impressive but actually hard for anyone to consume 100 grams jaggery in one go.
Jaggery can contribute to a small amount of iron intake when replacing sugar. While those anemic, need to take iron from other good sources of it.
Increasing jaggery intake just to increase the iron intake is not recommended as it is a type of sugar and an increased intake could be harmful to health.
Improves Immune Function
Jaggery is an addition to various health tonics as it is believed to treat numerous ailments.
The mineral and antioxidant contents of jaggery are believed to support the immune system and help the body recover from illnesses such as common cold and the flu.
Jaggery can be used to help boost the energy levels of those suffering from any sickness as it is high on calories.
Jaggery can be a healthy replacement of sugar as it just adds a few nutrients along with the calories which the refined sugar does not.
If wanting to use it instead of sugar, do not mind using it in the same way i.e. sparingly.