Jaggery is also known as"Gur" in Hindi. It is also popularly known as 'Bellam' in Telugu, 'Vellam' in Tamil, 'Sharkara' in Malayalam, 'Bella' in Kannada, and 'Gul' in Marathi. It is a form of unrefined sugar obtained from raw, concentrated sugarcane juice. Although jaggery can also be prepared from other sources like date palm (nolen gur) and coconut sap, the jaggery made from sugarcane juice is the one used most commonly.
Jaggery has a number of health benefits which make it an ideal sweetener. 20 grams of jaggery consists of 38 calories, 9.8 grams of carbohydrates, 9.7 grams of sugar, 0.01 gram of protein, choline, betaine, Vitamin B12, B6, folate, calcium, iron, phosphorus, magnesium, selenium, and manganese. It is void of all kinds of fat, which makes it easy to add to any diet without worrying about the additional fat intake. Mentioned below are some of the common jaggery benefits. Let’s take a look at it.
How is Jaggery prepared?
Jaggery is a sweetener that is usually prepared from sugarcane and is also known as unrefined sugar which is prepared without the separation of molasses and crystals.
Following are the steps of preparing jaggery:
- Extraction - In order to extract the entire sweet juice or sap, the sugarcanes are pressed through the machines.
- Clarification - The juice is then made to stand in large containers for a little while so that any residue or sediment can settle down at the bottom of the containers. The juice is then strained to produce a clear liquid.
- Concentration - The juice is then placed in large flat bottomed pans and boiled for hours and stirred continuously.
- While stirring, the impurities are skimmed off from the top until a yellow, dough-like thick paste remains in the pan.
- This yellow, dough-like paste is then transferred in large molds where it is left to cool until it turns hard and becomes jaggery.
The color of the jaggery may vary from light to dark brown, depending on the quality of sugarcane and the juice produced by the sugarcane.
Benefits of Jaggery
Jaggery is good for health and there are several benefits of eating jaggery. Read on to know more about some of the jaggery benefits.
Helps prevent constipation
Jaggery helps activate the digestive enzymes in the body and regulate bowel movements thereby, helping prevent and relieve constipation effects. It also acts as a diuretic and can also help stimulate bowel movements. A small amount of jaggery after lunch could boost digestion and help maintain overall good health.
Detoxifies the liver
Jaggery is a natural body cleanser. It helps cleanse the liver by flushing out the harmful toxins from the body, which further helps detoxify the liver. Consume a small amount or one small piece of jaggery to effectively detox your body!
Controls blood sugar
The presence of potassium and sodium in jaggery benefits in maintaining the acid levels of the body which in turn, regulates the blood pressure levels. Given the benefits, including jaggery in the diet of a person suffering from low or high blood pressure, would be extremely useful.
Helps boost immunity
Minerals and antioxidants like selenium and zinc are present in sufficient quantities in jaggery. This helps in preventing free radical damage while building resistance against various infections. Jaggery also helps increase the hemoglobin count in the blood.
Maintains intestinal health
Jaggery benefits intestinal health due to its rich source of magnesium. Every 10 g of jaggery contains 16 mg of minerals. So, if one consumes 10 grams of it, it fulfills 4% of the daily requirement of magnesium in the body. Consequently, consuming jaggery regularly can lead to good intestinal health.
Treats symptoms of cold & flu
Consumption of jaggery helps fight symptoms of a cold and cough. Jaggery produces heat in the body and this warming effect of jaggery makes it a wondrous sweet that can also help treat cold and flu. Mix jaggery with warm water or add it to your tea instead of sugar for useful benefits. Due to its heat-producing properties, jaggery is mostly consumed during the winters.
Helps treat urinary tract issues
Sugarcane is a natural diuretic and so is jaggery. Regular intake of jaggery can aid in reducing inflammation of the bladder, help in the stimulation of urination, and boost a smooth flow of urine. These are some of the many uses of jaggery.
Helps ease menstrual pain & PMS
Eating a small piece of jaggery or a small amount of jaggery powder releases endorphins that may help ease the sudden mood swings just before your period and other symptoms of PMS. These endorphins relax the body, thereby preventing premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Jaggery is an effective natural treatment for menstrual PMS.
Helps prevent anemia
Jaggery is packed with iron and folate that helps prevent anemia, by ensuring that the basic and normal count of the red blood cells is maintained. Moreover, it also provides instant energy to the body.
Aids in weight management
A moderate intake of jaggery can help in the weight loss journey. It consists of potassium that helps in balancing electrolytes as well as building muscles and boosting metabolism. Potassium also helps in the reduction of water retention, which further helps manage weight.
Source of energy
Sugar is a simple carbohydrate that gets immediately absorbed in the bloodstream and provides instant energy. While, on the other hand, jaggery is a complex carbohydrate that gives energy to the body slowly and gradually and for a longer time. This indicates that blood sugar levels do not rise immediately, and also helps prevent fatigue and weakness of the body.
This dark brown colored natural sweetener is easily available all over India. However, always make sure that the jaggery you purchase is 100% natural. 100% natural jaggery benefits the body in some of the many ways mentioned above. The uses of jaggery are innumerable and vast. Himalayan Natives produces 100% natural Jaggery which is chemical-free and a great alternative to refined white sugar. Make it a part of your daily diet, and start observing the benefits of eating jaggery. However, since it has sugar content, diabetics should avoid overconsumption.