Health Benefits of Indian Jaggery as Alternative to Processed Sugar

Indian jaggery refers to the traditional unrefined sugar product, made from both sugarcane and the date palm tree. While it is also made in several Asian, African and Latin American countries, India’s Maharashtra state is the largest producer of jaggery.

Jaggery starts off as a thick white translucent juice. This is then boiled until it is golden brown. Jaggery is sold either in block, square or powder form.

Traditionally, it is eaten by adults and children in the afternoon. It goes well with tea. It has since evolved into a healthy sugar substitute, and is used in cooking, baking and as sugar replacement in coffee and the like.

It is made up of 50% sucrose, 20% water, 20% invert sugar, and 10% insoluble matter like proteins, fibers and wood ash.Many attest the health benefits from Jaggery, even referring to it as the “medicinal sugar.”

General Uses:

Sugar Substitute

The use of jaggery as a sugar substitute is especially recommended for people suffering from diabetes.  Since sufferers are generally advised to cut down sugar consumption, the relatively smaller sucrose content of jaggery makes it a good substitute. They still need to watch out for spikes in their blood sugar, though. Everything should be taken in moderation.

Jaggery can be added directly into dishes, baked products, coffee and such. It can also be eaten raw.

Iron Supplement

The iron content in jaggery is significant enough to positively affect iron deficiency symptoms and conditions. Thus, it has been observed to relieve symptoms of anemia and menstrual pain. A teaspoon of jaggery per day is recommended when suffering from anemia or menstrual pain.

Weight Control

The low levels of sodium in jaggery decrease water retention thus, helping control weight. Water is one of the common causes of weight gain.

At the same time, when jaggery is used as sugar substitute, it lessens the physical ills associated with refined sugars, including weight gain.

Anti-Oxidant Source

Jaggery is rich in anti-oxidants that help disintegrate free radicals, and maintain overall physical well-being.  As such, people have used jaggery to ward of cough, colds, and throat and lung infection.

Maintenance of the Digestive System

Jaggery also has an alkalinizing effect on the stomach. This minimizes stomach acidity and relieves symptoms, such as flatulence, indigestion and constipation. 12 grams of jaggery after eating is recommended.

Stress Reliever

The magnesium content of jaggery makes it a good stress reliever. It can help relax the muscles and the nerves. It’s been known to relieve migraine headaches.

For migraines, the recommendation is a mix of jaggery (12 grams) and ghee (6 grams). This should be taking immediately after waking up, and right before bedtime.

To combat fatigue, the recommendation is 1 teaspoon of jaggery, 3 times a day.

Overall Body Cleanser

Components of jaggery make it a very effective body cleanser. It’s been known to clean the lungs and respiratory tract of pollutants. This significantly reduces breathing problems, such as asthma and bronchitis.