Sugar is among the most important food ingredients in the world. Anywhere we turn – from sweet meats to tomato ketchup – sugar exists in every food item. And while it isn’t inherently bad, the manner in which we consume sugar, specifically in the form of crystallized refined sugar, can lead to negative effects.
A relatively less common but incredibly healthy sugar substitute is jaggery. Known as Gur in Hindi, jaggery has been consumed in the South Asian region for centuries and is produced in an entirely natural way, free of any processing chemicals. Jaggery is extracted from sugarcane juice, which is heated and filtered repeatedly to turn it into a thick paste. This paste is then allowed to cool down and consequently, the dark yellow or brown jaggery crystals are collected and packed. Although some units use baking powder during the production of jaggery, it is always advisable to opt for Chemical-Free Organic Jaggery which is easily available too.
Not only is jaggery a better and more natural sweetener than refined sugar, it also carries along significant health benefits. Here, we will count the many ways in which jaggery can improve your health.
1. Improves digestion
When consumed, jaggery is converted to acetic acid in the stomach. By doing so, it rectifies and activates digestive enzymes – something that improves the digestion process and also increases the person’s appetite.
It is common practice in some parts of India to eat a small amount of jaggery after a meal for this very reason.
2. Strengthens the intestines
Consuming jaggery is linked with the release of bile from the liver and gall bladder. Bile is in turn inherently connected with the peristaltic movement of the intestines – the contraction and relaxation of the muscles in the intestines, which facilitates the movement of food through the alimentary canal. As jaggery encourages the release of bile in the intestines, the peristaltic movement improves and the digestive process continues much more smoothly.
3. Alleviates incessant coughing
If you suffer from incessant chronic cough, jaggery may be helpful in alleviating your condition. In fact, jaggery has a very positive impact on the entire respiratory tract – it warms and dilates the lungs and promotes better air-flow through the nasal passages. In addition to coughing, it also improves the status of asthma patients and those with breathing problems.
4. Provides risk-free energy
Jaggery is rich in carbohydrates and carbohydrates provide us with energy upon oxidation. And though refined sugar is also rich in carbohydrates, studies have shown that the manner in which the body metabolises refined sugar may have a negative impact on the body in the long run.
When consuming refined sugar, the blood sugar levels in the body may fluctuate rapidly (refined sugar is a simpler chemical molecule than jaggery and hence, is metabolised quickly). These fluctuations can have severe effects on the pancreas and if continued over a period of time may even cause diabetes. Jaggery, on the other hand, is a much more complex chemical. It is broken down and absorbed by the body over a longer period of time. This way, it not only provides energy to the body, but also prevents violent fluctuations in the blood sugar level which may cause damage to the internal organs.
5. Contains important minerals
Jaggery also contains a host of useful minerals which your body is always in need of. The zinc and selenium in jaggery lend a helping hand to the body’s immune system due to their anti-oxidative properties. Jaggery also contains a healthy dose of iron which is helpful for people suffering from anaemia.
Jaggery doesn’t contain enough of these minerals to fulfil all the requirements of your body, but it can provide a useful contribution.
We usually associate sugar with refined crystallized sugar but in fact alternatives like jaggery are superior to it in many ways. It is a non-processed, non-refined natural sweetener that can satisfy your sweet tooth while strengthening your body from within. Add it to your diet and start feeling the difference!
To get your hands on some genuine organic jaggery, click here.