Sugar is one of the most commonly used sweeteners and tea lovers will testify to the same. However, its nutritional profile is rather sketchy. Which is why alternatives such as jaggery are preferred by a whole lot of people.
Jaggery or gur is an unrefined sugar product referred to as a “non-centrifugal sugar,” as it is not spun during processing to remove the nutritious molasses. Jaggery is made mostly with sugar cane or date palm and offers a variety of benefits such as aiding in digestion, providing iron to the body, ward off cold, and cough.
To better understand whether jaggery is a good alternative to sugar, we spoke to nutritionist Deepika Dua Arora, who is the Director of Mutation Diet Clinic in New Delhi. Arora says that jaggery is preferred over sugar because sugar is chemically processed whereas jaggery is naturally sourced. She further highlighted the importance of jaggery as a rich source of vitamins and minerals such as magnesium, zinc, iron, selenium and calcium.
You see, sugar undergoes industrialised processing and loses all its nutritional value along the way. In the end all you are left with is plain sucrose as a by-product. Whereas, jaggery manages to retain traces of iron, fibre, and various mineral salts.
As per Arora, jaggery works well in detoxifying the lungs as it is an antioxidant and helps to treat and manage asthma, cold, cough and chest congestion. Jaggery can also be consumed to fight breathing disorders, while its anti-allergic properties detox and relax the respiratory muscles. Jaggery also helps to clear the body of toxins and any excess mucus. And so, a small piece taken after your meals could be a good start for replacing sugar.
Moreover, the rich iron content in jaggery helps pregnant and lactating women as it helps increase the feed flow.
Iron is an important component of haemoglobin, and helps red blood cells to transport oxygen from your lungs to throughout your body. Jaggery consumption hence can fulfil the iron and mineral requirement in your body and is known to be beneficial for people suffering from anaemia.
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Besides the digestion and constipation related benefits, Arora also suggests that jaggery is a better alternative than sugar for diabetes patients. “The body absorbs jaggery much slower as compared to sugar and hence, does not give the glucose spike that sugar does, this additionally aids in decreasing your appetite and increasing feelings of satiety and fullness as well.”
Though jaggery emerges as a good alternative to sugar, moderation is the key, as besides the health benefits of jaggery, the more you consume it, the more calories you add to your body.