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Jaggery is a type of sweetener made from sugarcane. It is considered to be a healthier alternative to sugar because it is unrefined. Although sugar and jaggery have almost the same amount of calories, jaggery is considered better because it also contains numerous vitamins and minerals that are essential for the body.

Jaggery is usually available in three forms -  solid, liquid and granular. Liquid jaggery is very popular in many parts of Maharashtra and West Bengal, while granular jaggery is common among rural people. Jaggery has different colours and it can vary from golden brown to dark brown. One of the most important things to note is that the darker the jaggery, the richer and deeper the flavour. 

Jaggery is consumed in many countries in South and Southeast Asia. Jaggery is widely used in the local cuisine of Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Srilanka and It is one of the most important ingredients in Indian cuisine. A pinch of jaggery is added to sambar and rasam to enhance their taste. Chikkis, which are quite popular among adults and children are made with groundnuts and jaggery. Jaggery is also used for making sweets, alcoholic drinks, chocolates, candies, tonics, syrups, sorbets, cakes, etc. Maharashtra is the largest producer of jaggery in the world. Jaggery is widely consumed in America, Asia, and Africa. Different kinds of jaggery include sugarcane jaggery, date palm jaggery, palmyra jaggery, toddy palm jaggery etc.

Jaggery has numerous health benefits. It has a special place in ayurvedic and traditional medicine. Being rich in iron, it helps prevent anaemia. Eating a small piece of jaggery after your meals are believed to aid in digestion. Eating jaggery with pepper can increase your appetite.  According to Ayurveda, regular consumption of jaggery can improve your vision. Jaggery is also known to treat acne and regulating body temperature. Sour burps can be cured by taking jaggery along with rock salt.

Some basic facts about jaggery:

  • Botanical name: Jaggery is a byproduct of sugarcane, Saccharum Officinarum
  • Family: Poaceae (For sugarcane)
  • Common name: Gud
  • Sanskrit name: गुडः (Gudd) / शर्करा(Sarkara)
  • Native region and geographical distribution: Some people believe that jaggery has its origin in Eastern India, while others believe that the Portuguese introduced it to India. India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka are the largest producers of jaggery in the world.
  • Interesting Fact: Jaggery is often referred to as a “superfood sweetener.” 
  1. Jaggery nutrition facts
  2. Jaggery health benefits
  3. Jaggery side effects
  4. Takeaway

Jaggery is not chemically processed. So it retains most of the minerals in it, unlike refined white sugar.

As per the USDA Nutrient Database, 100 g of jaggery squares contain the following nutrients:

Nutrients Value, per 100 g
Energy 375 kcal
Carbohydrate 92.86 g
Sugar 85.71 g
Minerals    
Calcium 29 mg
Iron 2.57 mg
Sodium 36 mg

Jaggery is an excellent sweetener, which provides numerous benefits for your health. Let us have a look at the evidence-based health benefits of jaggery.

  • High mineral content: Jaggery is loaded with health building minerals such as iron, calcium, magnesium, zinc and phosphorus. It is an ideal substitute for white sugar in malnourished people.
  • Improves haemoglobin: Jaggery is a rich source of iron and is thus an excellent dietary supplement to improve haemoglobin content in anaemic individuals. Regular jaggery consumption is suggested to prevent anaemia in women and adolescent girls.
  • Purifies blood: Jaggery has a detoxifying effect on the body. It helps remove body toxins and improve liver and kidney function.
  • Improves brain function: Jaggery provides a good amount of manganese, a mineral responsible for maintaining and improving brain signalling. Consuming jaggery would not only keep your memory and cognitive abilities strong but also it would prevent neurodegeneration.
  • Helps lose weight: If you are looking for shedding some pounds, jaggery could be an excellent substitute for sugar. Unlike sugar, the calories present in jaggery are made from health building vitamins and minerals and jaggery has also been found to improve metabolic function, thus promoting weight loss.
  • Benefits for women: Jaggery is known to improve blood flow and reduce period cramps in women. Being a rich source of iron and calcium, it may be helpful in preserving bones and preventing anaemia.
  1. Jaggery for anaemia
  2. Jaggery purifies blood
  3. Jaggery mineral content
  4. Jaggery benefits for lungs
  5. Jaggery has antioxidant properties
  6. Jaggery benefits for brain
  7. Jaggery for asthma
  8. Jaggery benefits in menstruation
  9. Jaggery for weight loss

Jaggery for anaemia

Anaemia is a condition wherein the haemoglobin level in the body becomes very low. As a result of this, oxygen is not properly carried to the tissues resulting in various complications such as stress and fatigue. Research shows that jaggery is rich in iron and can thus help prevent anaemia.

A study was done on adolescent girls who suffer from iron deficiency anaemia, to determine the effects of a herbal extract made from jaggery syrup along with other natural extracts. The study confirmed that regular consumption of jaggery helps increase the haemoglobin level in the body, thereby preventing anaemia.

Jaggery purifies blood

Blood is responsible for carrying oxygen, nutrients and other hormones in the body. Our blood also transports waste materials out of the body but factors such as lifestyle and dietary choices may lead to an accumulation of toxins in the blood. Excess toxins would then deteriorate normal body functioning. Liver and kidneys are mainly responsible for removing the waste from the body, thereby purifying the blood. But we can also make a few dietary changes by including some foods that can naturally purify the blood.

Research reveals that jaggery is one such item that has blood purifying ability. Regular consumption of limited amount of jaggery can help wash out harmful toxins from the body. Even the ancient medical scripture Sushrata Samhita mentions the blood purifying ability of jaggery. Purification of blood also results in a healthier liver and kidneys which in turn add to the detoxifying benefits of jaggery.

(Read more: How to purify blood naturally)

Jaggery mineral content

Jaggery is rich in minerals such as iron, potassium, sodium, magnesium, etc. It contains a reasonable amount of calcium, zinc and phosphorus. Since jaggery is unprocessed, all the minerals and vitamins remain intact, making it a healthier alternative to white sugar. The presence of all the important vitamins and minerals makes it an ideal choice of sweetener for undernourished children and adults.

Jaggery benefits for lungs

Lungs are constantly exposed to harmful dust particles and pollution. Although our lungs have a defence mechanism that lets them self-remove these dust particles, prolonged exposure to dust can lead to lung diseases. This is commonly observed in people who work in polluted environments like construction workers, mine workers and people who work in certain chemical industries. Preclinical studies suggest the potential of jaggery in removing the dust particles from the lungs. The study also indicated that jaggery was effective in reducing lesions caused by coal dust.

Another study indicated that the micronutrients present in jaggery have  anticarcinogenic properties, thereby preventing the chances of lung cancer.

Jaggery has antioxidant properties

Oxidative stress happens when the body is unable to fight the harmful effects caused by free radicals (reactive oxygen species). This could be a risk factor in conditions such as cancer, arthritis and cardiovascular diseases. Antioxidants are responsible for neutralizing these harmful free radicals, thereby preventing them from causing diseases. According to research, jaggery is rich in magnesium and this along with selenium can help prevent free-radical damage, thereby boosting your body’s immunity against various infections. Another study revealed that jaggery contains essential phenolic acids that showed a 97% protection against oxidative damage.

(Read more: Antioxidant rich foods)

Jaggery benefits for brain

Did you know regular consumption of jaggery can make you smarter?

The nervous system comprises a group of nerves and cells which help in transmitting messages to and from the brain, spinal cord and the various parts of the body. Any imbalance or damage in the nervous system could lead to various neurological disorders such as epilepsy, memory loss, Alzheimer’s disease etc.

Jaggery is a good source of manganese, a very important mineral which is essential for the proper functioning of the central nervous system. Research reveals that manganese regulates the function of neurotransmitter receptors in brain, making sure that the sensory signals travel faster through the body.

Magnesium also exhibits neuroprotective properties, and it makes the nervous system stronger.

Jaggery for asthma

Asthma is a chronic condition characterised by an inflammation in the lung airways and breathing difficulty. Asthma is very common among people of all ages. Research states that jaggery exhibits cleansing and antiasthmatic properties which clears away the lungs and nasal sinuses and reduces the symptoms of asthma such as wheezing, cough and cold. This is particularly helpful for people who are sensitive to dust and other pollutants. Many ayurvedic medicines and tonics also contain jaggery as one of its main ingredients because of its anti-allergic properties.

Jaggery benefits in menstruation

Most women experience various symptoms during menstruation. These include bloating, abdominal cramps, mood swings, headache and muscle cramps. Jaggery is used as a home remedy for these problems. According to research, consumption of jaggery during menstruation will ensure free blood flow. Because jaggery is rich in iron, it can help prevent women from feeling anaemic during their periods.

Jaggery for weight loss

In today's world, everybody is looking for a quick and easy remedy for weight loss. You might be amazed to know that despite the high sugar content, jaggery can help you lose weight. 

Sugar and jaggery contain the same amount of calories. But the difference between the two is that sugar contains empty calories but jaggery is loaded with numerous minerals and vitamins that are beneficial for the body. Research shows that jaggery can help reduce weight. It is rich in potassium which prevents the retention of water in the body by balancing the sodium levels in the body and increasing the frequency of urination. Metabolism is how fast your body burns the calories you eat. This is an important factor for people who want to shed those extra calories. Research suggests that jaggery intake can help boost your metabolism, leading to weight loss.

(Read more: Obesity treatment)

  • Increase the risk of diabetes 
    Jaggery is a sweetener. Any sweetener taken in excess has side effects. Having a lot of jaggery is not recommended for people with diabetes or someone who is at a higher risk of getting the disease. Even Ayurveda, which recommends jaggery for its various health benefits, advocates people with diabetes to not use jaggery.
  • May cause infection 
    Purification of jaggery is essential before consumption. If jaggery is not properly cleaned, it will lead to health complications. When prepared in unhygienic conditions, jaggery may have disease-causing microbes in it. Adulteration of jaggery is also common where chemicals are added to it to make it look attractive. Therefore, it is essential to buy jaggery from a genuine place that sells unprocessed jaggery.
  • Increase in weight gain
    Jaggery is better than refined white sugar. But consuming jaggery in large quantities may lead to an increase in calories, which in turn can lead to weight gain.
  • Other side effects 
    It is believed that consuming jaggery in plenty leads to constipation and causes allergy, which is characterized by rashes, nausea, and fever.

Jaggery is unrefined cane sugar that retains most of the essential minerals and vitamins in the fruit. Jaggery helps in weight loss, it is used to prevent the symptoms of menstruation, it enables the proper functioning of the nervous symptoms and it has antiasthmatic and antioxidant properties. However, too much jaggery can lead to constipation and an increase in weight. It is not an ideal choice of sweetener for people with diabetes. It is always better to buy jaggery from a safe place that sells unprocessed jaggery. Owing to all health benefits of jaggery, it is considered to be a better alternative to white sugar.

और पढ़ें ...

References

  1. United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service. Full Report (All Nutrients): 45218052, JAGGERY BALL, UNREFINED CANE SUGAR. National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Legacy Release [Internet]
  2. Resmi.S, Fathima Latheef, R.Vijayaraghavan. Effectiveness of Herbal Extract in Enhancing the Level of HB among Adolescent Girls with Iron Deficiency Anemia at Selected Higher Secondary Schools at Bangalore. International Journal of Health Sciences and Research, Vol.6; Issue: 10; October 2016
  3. Priyanka Shrivastav, Abhay Kumar Verma, Ramanpreet Walia, Rehana Parveen, Arun Kumar Singh. JAGGERY: A REVOLUTION IN THE FIELD OF NATURAL SWEETENERS. ejpmr, 2016,3(3), 198-202
  4. A P Sahu, A K Saxena. Enhanced translocation of particles from lungs by jaggery. Environ Health Perspect. 1994 Oct; 102(Suppl 5): 211–214. PMID: 7882934
  5. Health Harvard Publishing, Updated: April 3, 2019. Harvard Medical School [Internet]. Potassium and sodium out of balance. Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
  6. Yogesh Shankar Kumbhar. STUDY ON GUR (JAGGERY) INDUSTRY IN KOLHAPUR. International Research Journal of Engineering and Technology Volume: 03 Issue: 02 | Feb-2016