Jaggery is a flavouring that is becoming known to sugar as a “safe” alternative. It is also regarded as a “superfood sweetener.”
It is an unrefined sugar product produced in Asia and Africa. It is often referred to as “non-centrifugal sugar,” because it is not spun during production to extract the nutritious molasses.
While they all have different names, similar non-centrifugal sugar products exist in Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean.
These products include:
- India: Gur
- Colombia: Panela
- Mexico. Piloncillo
- Costa Rica: tapa dulce
- Thailand: Namtan Tanode
- Malaysia: Melaka Gula
- Japan: Kokuto
Around 70 per cent of the world’s development of jaggery takes place in India, where it is commonly referred to as “gur”. It is usually produced from cane sugar.
Nonetheless, jaggery derived from date palm is also prevalent in several countries.
How is it made?
Jaggery is prepared using traditional palm or cane juice squeezing and distilling methods. It’s a three-step phase:
- Extraction: The canes or palms are squeezed remove the sweet juice or sap.
- Clarification: The juice is allowed to stay in wide containers so that any debris falls to the bottom. It is then squeezed to obtain a clear liquid.
- Concentration: The juice is put and distilled in a huge, flat-bottomed pan.
The jaggery is mixed, and the impurities are skimmed off the surface during this stage until there is just a yellow, dough-like paste remaining. Then, this “dough” is moved to moulds or containers where it cools down into jaggery.
It can differ in colour from light golden to dark brown. This is essential since the colour and texture are used to grade the jaggery. Interestingly, lighter shades are more familiar to Indians than darker ones.
There is typically more than 70% sucrose in this lighter, “higher quality” jaggery. It also contains glucose and fructose separated by less than 10 per cent, with 5 per cent as minerals.
It is most commonly marketed as a solid sugar block, but it is manufactured in liquid and granulated forms as well.
Is it jaggery nourishing than sugar?
Jaggery provides more nutrients than refined sugar due to its high molasses content. Molasses are a nutritious by-product of producing sugar, which is typically extracted when refined sugar is produced.
The actual nutrition profile of this sweetener may vary based on the type of plant used to make it (cane or palm). 100 grams of jaggery (half a cup) may constitute:
- Calories: 383
- Protein: 0.4 grams
- Fat: 0.1 grams
- Sucrose: 65 – 85 grams
- Iron: 11 mg (61% of the RDI)
- Fructose and glucose: 10 – 15 grams
- Magnesium: 70-90 mg (20% of the RDI)
- Potassium: 1050 mg (30% of the RDI)
- Manganese: 0.2 – 0.5 mg, or 10 – 20% of the RDI
Nevertheless, bear in mind that this is a portion of 100 grams (3.5 oz), which is much greater than you can normally consume at once. You’d possibly consume almost one tablespoon (20 grams) or teaspoon (7 grams).
Tiny amounts of B vitamins and minerals, such as calcium, zinc, phosphorus and copper, may also be contained in jaggery. One commercially available product known as SugaVida is granulated palm jaggery, which is believed to be a great source of naturally occurring B vitamins.
Jaggery seems nutritious in comparison to refined sugar. Only empty calories “are found in refined white sugar, that is, calories without any vitamins or minerals. It is more nutritious than sugar.
Nonetheless, there is a massive “but ” when it comes to characterizing it as nutritionally balanced. It’s basically still sugar, and any additional nutrients you receive come with a lot of calories.
You will also need to consume a lot of jaggeries to get a substantial amount of these nutrients, which you can get in far greater quantities from other sources.
So, while replacing processed sugar with a sweetener that contains more vitamins and minerals may be considerably ‘healthier,’ adding jaggery to your diet is not generally advisable.
What can jaggery be used for?
Jaggery is flexible just like sugar. It can be ground or crushed and then used in any foods or beverages as a substitute for refined sugar.
In India, it is sometimes combined to make traditional sweets and candies with products such as peanuts, coconuts, and condensed milk. These include jaggery cake, chakkara pongal, and a dessert prepared using rice and milk.
It is also used for conventional alcoholic beverages, such as palm wine, as well as dying cloth for non-edible purposes. This sweetener is mostly used in the Western world as a sugar substitute in baking and can also be used for sweetening beverages such as tea and coffee.
The assumption that it is more nutritious than refined white sugar is one reason why jaggery is getting popular. It is often believed to have different health advantages that include improved digestive health, prevention of anaemia, liver detoxification and improved immune function.
Here’s a close look, separating the truth from the fiction, at the most popular health assertions:
Improves digestive health
It’s common in India that jaggery is consumed after a meal. Some individuals believe that it helps with digestion and can promote bowel movements, making it a good alternative for constipation prevention.
Jaggery is a source of sucrose, but there’s almost no fibre or water, two dietary variables that are considered to assist with daily bowel movements. No research available supports this assertion. It seems improbable that jaggery will assist with digestion or avoid constipation, considering its nutritional profile.
Some research suggests that the body more readily uses iron in non-centrifugal sugars than iron from several other natural sources. Jaggery contains approximately 11 mg of iron for every 100 grams, or about 61 per cent of the RDI.
It sounds impressive, but it’s doubtful that in one sitting you’d consume 100 grams of jaggery. A more practical section depicts a tablespoon or teaspoon.
There is 2.2 mg of iron in a tablespoon (20 grams) or around 12 per cent of the RDI. Also, there is 0.77 mg of iron in a teaspoon (7 grams), or approximately 4 per cent of the RDI.
Jaggery can provide a significant amount of iron to individuals with low iron intake, particularly when white sugar is replaced. Furthermore, added sugar is harmful to your health. Thus, it’s unfair to say that you should introduce jaggery to your diet because it contains iron.
It is believed that several foods help your liver get rid of toxins. Nonetheless, your body is capable of killing these toxins on its own. No existing evidence supports that detoxification can be made simpler or more cogent by any food or drink.
Enhances the Immune System
Jaggery is also applied to the tonics used to treat several ailments in India. People assume that the minerals and antioxidants in jaggery can strengthen the immune system and help recover quickly from conditions, such as the common cold and the flu.
A few evidence indicates that the duration and severity of a cold can be decreased by oral zinc and vitamin C supplements. Still, neither is present in high quantities in jaggery. There is a lack of evidence supporting this argument.
However, jaggery’s high-calorie content can help increase energy levels for those who struggle to eat while sick.
Effects of jaggery
Excessive sugar consumption is a contributing factor in most of the most prevalent infectious conditions worldwide. Research has actually related excess intake of sugar to an increased risk of obesity, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.
Jaggery is still a sugar, considering its slightly different nutritional profile. Therefore, consuming too much is not a healthy idea.
You will get a few additional nutrients if you substitute white sugar for jaggery. However, you should try to get nutrients from the foods you consume rather than depending on sweetener as a source of nutrients.
Jaggery is still sugar at the end of the day, and it can only be used very carefully.