Did you know that jaggery comes with loads of health benefits? You may have seen older people eating a piece of jaggery with tea after a meal. It is not only because of its sweet taste, but it also has numerous therapeutic properties that do wonders for the body.
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What Is Jaggery?
Jaggery is made from the juice of sugarcane, which is heated to produce thick crystals. It contains sugar in sucrose form and is used in many food products as a sweetening agent. It is considered healthier than refined sugar as certain plant phytochemicals and minerals are preserved in it.
Many people avoid jaggery as its raw appearance is not very appealing. However, it may be time to start making this food a regular part of your diet as it provides many essential nutrients and is an effective remedy for many ailments. By adding jaggery to your diet, you gain a wide range of health benefits that you may not have thought that this food could provide.
Jaggery is also known as ‘Gur’ in Hindi, ‘Bellam’ in Telugu, ‘Vellam’ in Tamil, ‘Sharkara’ in Malayalam, ‘Bella’ in Kannada, and ‘Gul’ in Marathi. Let’s take a look at all the amazing benefits of jaggery:
Skin Benefits Of Jaggery
Jaggery is beneficial as a beauty treatment. It has natural properties that ensure that the skin stays healthy at all times.
- Nourishes The Skin: Jaggery is rich in many vital vitamins and minerals, allowing it to provide nourishment to every part of the body, including the skin. When your skin gets proper nourishment, it can stay glowing and healthy.
- Treats Acne And Pimples: Jaggery helps in treating and preventing many skin problems such as acne and pimples. Hence, it helps in keeping the skin blemish-free. It also delays the signs of aging such as wrinkles, dark spots, etc.
Health Benefits Of Jaggery
One of the main reasons that people take jaggery after meals is due to its positive effects on the digestive system.
- Prevents Digestive Disorders: Jaggery helps in the maintenance of proper functioning of the digestive system. This, in turn, prevents many digestive problems and improves digestion as well.
- Boosts Secretion Of Digestive Enzymes: Jaggery stimulates digestive enzyme secretion, and it also gets converted into acetic acid. Therefore, it speeds up the process of digestion, as the load on the digestive tract is significantly reduced.
- Regulates Bowel Movement: As it helps in maintaining proper digestion, jaggery also helps in regulating the bowel movement and preventing problems such as indigestion, constipation, flatulence, intestinal worms, etc.
Jaggery is known to have beneficial effects on the blood as well. This is why making it a part of your diet is recommended.
- Purifies Blood: One of the most well-known benefits of jaggery is its ability to purify the blood. When consumed on a regular basis, it cleanses the blood, leaving your body healthy.
- Prevents Blood Diseases And Disorders: Jaggery helps in boosting the total count of hemoglobin in the blood (3). It also boosts the immunity that, in turn, helps in preventing a wide variety of blood disorders and diseases.
- Prevents Anemia: Jaggery is rich in iron and folate that help in preventing anemia by ensuring that a normal level of red blood cells is maintained. This is especially beneficial for pregnant women. It also provides instant energy that prevents fatigue and weakness of the body.
- Treats Menstrual Problems: Jaggery, due to its richness in many essential nutrients, is an effective natural treatment for many menstrual problems. It also helps in providing relief from cramps and stomach ache that are associated with menstruation.
Jaggery Benefits For Weight Loss
Jaggery is surprisingly effective as an aid for weight loss. If you are looking to lose some unwanted pounds, include this food in your diet.
- Boosts Body Metabolism: Jaggery is a rich source of potassium, which is a mineral that helps in the balance of electrolytes as well as the building up of muscles and improving the metabolism in the body. These factors play an important role in effective weight loss, making jaggery effective in aiding in weight loss.
- Reduces Retention Of Water: Water retention is a major problem when you are trying to lose weight. As mentioned earlier, jaggery contains many essential minerals, especially potassium. This mineral helps in the reduction of water retention, thus managing your weight.
Jaggery has many other benefits that include the following:
- Cleanses The Body: One of the best natural cleansing agents for the body is jaggery. It helps in detoxifying the body by effectively and efficiently cleansing the respiratory tract, lungs, intestines, stomach and food pipe. It removes the toxins and impurities from the body, thereby providing relief from constipation and other health problems.
- Boosts Intestinal Health: As mentioned earlier, jaggery has wonderful effects on the digestive system. It also boosts the intestinal strength due to its high magnesium content. With every 10 grams of jaggery, you get 16mg of magnesium, which is 4 percent of the daily requirement of this mineral.
- Controls Blood Pressure: Jaggery contains potassium and sodium, which play an important role in the maintenance of acid levels in the body. It also makes sure that a normal level of blood pressure is properly maintained.
- Prevents Nervous System Problems: This food has many natural properties that help in keeping the nervous system functioning normally and staying healthy. This, in turn, keeps a wide range of nervous system disorders at bay.
- Provides Antioxidants: Jaggery is a rich source of antioxidants (4), selenium in particular, that helps in preventing the various effects of free radicals on your body. This means that it keeps many different diseases and ailments away and, as already mentioned, delays the signs of aging.
- Prevents Respiratory Problems: By consuming jaggery regularly, you can prevent many respiratory problems such as asthma, bronchitis, etc. Experts recommend taking this natural sweetener with sesame seeds for wonderful benefits for the respiratory system.
- Treats Cough And Cold: Jaggery is known for its ability to naturally treat a cough and cold effectively. Eating it in its raw form is recommended. However, if you are averse to its sweet taste, you can mix it with tea or warm water and gain relief from these problems. It also works well for migraines and headaches.
- Relieves Joint Pain: If you often suffer from aches and pains in your joints, eating jaggery can provide you with the much-needed relief. Experts recommend eating it with a piece of ginger to alleviate joint pain. Drinking a glass of milk with jaggery every day is also recommended to help strengthen the bones, thus preventing joint and bone problems such as arthritis.
- Controls Body Temperature: Jaggery helps in controlling the temperature of the body. This is especially beneficial for patients who suffer from asthma as they require a normal body temperature to be maintained at all times.
- Provides Instant Energy: If you are feeling weak or lethargic, eating a piece of jaggery can provide instant energy. The best thing about it is that it is gradually digested and absorbed by your body, unlike white sugar. This means that the levels of blood sugar do not get raised immediately.
- Regulates Liver Function: One of the main functions of the liver is to rid the body of harmful toxins and other impurities (5). As jaggery can naturally cleanse the body, it reduces the workload of the liver and detoxifies it as well, thus regulating its function.
- Reduces PMS: Eating a small piece of jaggery every day can help in alleviating PMS. This problem is caused by fluctuating hormone levels, and this food helps in reducing it as it stimulates the release of endorphins, which are known as happy hormones. It helps in relaxing your body and making you feel good.
- Boosts Immunity: Due to its richness in various minerals, antioxidants, and other nutrients, jaggery is of immense help in boosting the immunity. By ensuring that the immune system is healthy, it helps in preventing many types of infections, ailments, and diseases. Jaggery is rich in zinc and selenium that, as you know, prevent free-radical damage caused by oxidative stress.
- Treats Chronic Cough: As mentioned earlier, jaggery has many benefits for the respiratory system. It helps in treating a chronic cough. It has a smoothening and soothing effect on the soft tissues of the throat, thus reducing throat irritation. According to Ayurveda, it makes the lungs warm and dilates the respiratory tract.
- Helps With Urinary Problems: Sugarcane acts as a natural diuretic and jaggery also possesses this property. It helps in stimulating urination that is good news for people who have difficulty in passing urine. Jaggery can also help in reducing inflammation of the bladder. Experts recommend drinking a glass of hot milk with jaggery to treat urinary problems and improving the urine flow.
- Treats Hiccups: If you have a case of the hiccups, eating jaggery can help. All you need to do is mix it with dried ginger powder. Experts recommend eating this mixture with a glass of warm water to gain relief. Mix 3 grams of jaggery with 500mg of ginger powder to get rid of this problem.
- Cools The Stomach: As mentioned already, jaggery helps in maintaining a normal body temperature. This helps in keeping your stomach cool. Experts recommend eating a medium-sized piece of this food every day, especially during the summer.
- Improves Sperm Quality And Production: According to Ayurveda, eating jaggery that is mixed with amla powder can help in the improvement of the quality of sperm. It also helps in boosting the sperm production. It also helps in lowering the weakness of the body and treats and prevents urinary problems among men.
- Boosts Iron Absorption: Being rich in iron, eating jaggery with foods that are rich in Vitamin C helps in boosting the absorption of this mineral in the body. Experts recommend pairing it with foods such as citrus fruits, amla, guavas, etc. When iron is properly absorbed, it boosts hair health, making it strong and lustrous.
- Natural Sweetening Agent: Jaggery has been traditionally used as a sweetening agent not just because of its sweetening properties, but also because of its distinct flavor and aroma. While sugar would just give you sweetness, jaggery would give you sweetness along with flavor. Even the other variety of jaggery, e.g. date jaggery, has a flavor that keeps it on a higher pedestal than plain sugar.
- Warming Effect: Since jaggery contains carbohydrates that take time to get digested, it provides warmth to the body. In many countries, people prepare sweets and special foods using jaggery in cold weather. This is a traditional method to ensure a little warmth during winters. Using date palm jaggery for this purpose is beneficial as it provides maximum warmth to the body.
- Prevents Asthma: Black jaggery has properties that regulate the body temperature. It also possesses anti-allergic characteristics. This is extremely essential for asthma patients.
Jaggery Vs. Sugar: A Comparative Study
Let’s have a look how jaggery is different from sugar.
1. Method Of Processing
Both jaggery and sugar are prepared by bringing sugar cane juice to a boil. However, this is only the initial step. The boiled juice is clarified with bone charcoal into a clear and transparent syrup which, upon cooling, condensation, and crystallization, turns into regular white sugar. On the other hand, sugar cane juice is boiled continuously in order to form a thick, sticky paste of jaggery. It is then cooled down and poured into molds to come up with required jaggery blocks.
Sucrose (C12H22O12), a disaccharide (Glucose + Fructose), is known to be the primary component of both sugar and jaggery. However, there is no other component in table sugar, while jaggery is made of sucrose (65-85%), invert sugar (10-15)%, ash 2.5%, and very small amounts of dietary fiber, iron and mineral salts. The invert sugar content of jaggery makes it higher in sweetness and GI (Glycemic Index) than regular sugar.
Regular sugar is white in color. But the color of jaggery can vary from golden yellow to different shades of brown (i.e. golden brown, perfect brown, dark brown, etc.). The color usually depends on the time of boiling the sugar cane juice.
As far as the texture is concerned, sugar and jaggery are different from each other. Sugar has a solid and hard form that looks like crystal, while jaggery is semi-solid (comparatively softer) and does not have any specific shape (amorphous).
Recipes To Include Jaggery In Food To Curb Iron Deficiency
Jaggery is important for its iron benefits, and if you don’t like eating it raw, you can try the following methods. These are simple recipes you can make:
1. Jaggery Chapati
- Grated jaggery
- Wheat flour/Atta
- Salt to taste
How To Prepare
- Take half a cup of milk and add three cups of grated jaggery and mix by boiling on low heat.
- Then cool it down and mix with atta, 1/8th spoon baking soda, salt as per taste, and a little ghee.
- Prepare a smooth dough by adding a little more milk.
- Now, roll out into chapatis by smearing little ghee over them.
This is one of the simplest ways to yield the benefits of jaggery.
2. Jaggery Rice
- Soaked rice
- Green cardamoms
How To Prepare
- Boil 4 cups of water, add 1 cup of soaked rice, 2 cloves, and 4 green cardamoms.
- When it starts boiling, simmer the heat till the rice is cooked.
- In a colander, drain the rice.
- Add little ghee in a heavy based pan, add rice and mix well.
- On a slow heat, mix jaggery and cover it.
- Cook it for 10 to 15 minutes and keep stirring for a couple of minutes.
It is done. Now you can savor and enjoy the food!
Prevent Iron Deficiency With Jaggery
Jaggery is a substitute for refined white sugar and is used in many Indian households. It is an excellent source of iron, and hence it helps prevent iron deficiency and improves the hemoglobin levels in the blood:
If you do not eat green vegetables daily, then you can eat jaggery on a daily basis to fulfill the iron requirements of your body.
- You can add jaggery to substitute for sugar in your tea or coffee.
- You can add it to your breakfast cereal, sambhar, rasam, and dal.
- You can replace refined white sugar with jaggery while preparing some Indian sweets such as kheer or payasam.
Is consuming jaggery for diabetes considered safe? Well, jaggery should be consumed with caution if you are diabetic as it contains only five percent less carbohydrates when compared to white sugar. It can increase your sugar levels drastically. So, if you are a diabetic or on a weight loss program, you should not consume it in large quantities.
As you can see, jaggery has many health benefits, and this is why adding it to your diet is a good idea. It is a great way to ensure that different parts of your body function as they should and also treat and prevent different disorders, illnesses as well as infections.
How was your experience with this super food, do comment in the box below!
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