Hi friends, happy Friday!
How are you all? Hope all good. Spring is here and in Mumbai where I live, it has already become quite hot. Make sure you keep hydrated!
Do limit your intake of sugary sodas and other sugary beverages this summer (and always, actually) because one thing that our body can absolutely do without, is added sugars. Almost everything that we consume, has some amount of sugar in it and any extra added refined sugar that we eat, does us more harm than good. Eat fresh fruits a lot instead. High on fibre and other nutrients, juicy fruits can quench our thirst equally well.
Whenever I tell my clients to limit their sugar intake, I am almost always asked, “and what about jaggery?”
Hmm…that is a tricky question and the answer depends from one person to another. I personally, do avoid added sugar as much as I can. However, some days when I feel like having sweet milk-ginger tea, I put in half a spoon of jaggery powder instead of white sugar. But then, my sugar intake is low anyways and I do not have high blood-sugar levels either.
If you are a healthy person with limited sugar-intake, it is alright for you to make the switch from sugar to jaggery or jaggery powder. Jaggery is less processed after all.
However, if you have excess weight and/or high sugar level already and/or looking to lose some weight, consider jaggery as a sugar only. Why? Let’s just see what jaggery is and you would get your answer on its own.
What is Jaggery?
Jaggery or gur in Hindi, is generally made out of sugarcane or date palm. The sugarcane/palms are pressed to extract their sweet juice which is then allowed to stay in large containers for long so that the sediments settle down and can be filtered easily. The strained juice then is boiled, cleaned and the remaining paste is put in moulds ending up in big/small blocks of gur/jaggery.
Interestingly, darker the jaggery is, the more trace minerals it would contain and hence better. However unattractive it might look!
But, somehow we believe (and it’s true, industrial grading-wise) that brown means it is higher in impurities and golden-yellow means that it is relatively pure. Due to this grading scale, artificial colours are sometimes added to jaggery, to give it the golden/red colour.
The way jaggery is made also gave it the name ‘non-centrifugal’ sugar because sugar-mix is spun while it is getting cleaned and in the process of getting clean/refined sugar, the nutritious molasses are separated from the mix. With jaggery however, this process is not needed hence the nutritious molasses stay in it. This molasses is what makes jaggery more nutritious than sugar!
Now, Jaggery vs Sugar
Compared to sugar, jaggery is more nutritious (due to trace minerals) but it is still essentially sugar. As simple as that. All the extra nutrients that come from jaggery, come with lots of sugar too. And you have to consume a lot of jaggery to get any tangible benefit out of it. With the calories and sugar attached, is it worth it? Not if you are already struggling with diabetes, high sugar-levels and weight issues, for sure.
With a high glycemic index of 84.1, jaggery can raise blood sugar levels, it just takes a tiny bit longer. Though, jaggery:
- being a more complex carb than sugar, breaks down slowly in our body
- has relatively lower glycemic index than white sugar
- if consumed in completely unprocessed version which is made in traditional way with no chemical additives, believed to be alkaline. I am still looking for that one though, if you know where to get it from, please let me know too!
- contains trace minerals such as potassium, magnesium, iron, phosphorous and calcium
- due to these trace minerals, is said to improve digestive health, prevent anemia and improve immunity, if one is deficient in them otherwise
If you are a diabetic, have blood sugar issues or struggle with weight concerns, best to avoid sugar and jaggery both. They both are sugars -spike up insulin levels and add up to the calories.
If you are healthy and a non-diabetic, you would still do best to reduce any sort of sugar-intake all together. With overall reduction of sugar-intake, replacing your white-refined sugar with jaggery is alright. Try to get organic and unprocessed jaggery for the purpose, to maximize any benefits out of trace minerals etc.
There are many foods and fresh produce available that would help better with many benefits associated with jaggery though. Where sugar cannot be quit completely, replacing it with jaggery makes sense but only if you are non-diabetic and enjoy a normal health/weight.
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Till next Friday,
Love, Health & Peace