Jaggery or gur is a concentrated product of made of sugarcane juice and date or palm. The sugary juice from sugarcane or palm is heated and boiled until it becomes thick and golden brown, afterwards it is left to cool down and solidify. It contains up to 50% sucrose, 20% invert sugars, and 20% moisture, with other insoluble matters as by products. Most of the jaggery produced comes from sugarcane, but is considered inferior to palm jaggery. The toddy palm is tapped for producing jaggery in India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. In Sri Lanka, syrup extracts from kithul(Caryota urens) trees are widely used for jaggery production.
Gur across India is eaten raw (specially with tea or after a meal) , used in cuisines— it is a major ingredient for a lot of delicacies that are made and served in different states of India. Molasses , a byproduct of the production of jaggery— contains many minerals not found in ordinary sugar and is considered beneficial to health in traditional Ayurvedic medicine.
Best time for consumption?
—Jaggery is mostly consumed during winters although it is available throughout the year. Winter is the season of fresh jaggery, which contains vital nutrients. If you have grown up around elders who consumed jaggery on regular basis, you must have heard its ‘taseer’ is hot, which roughly translates to effect. So, you must also have been warned against eating a lot of it. That’s because it has heating effect on your body and may lead to dryness, nose bleed, acne or other problems.
Jaggery Preferred over white/ refined sugar?
—It is preferred over white sugar, which is considered unhealthy .It is loaded with minerals such as magnesium, potassium, calcium, selenium, manganese and zinc and it is highly recommended for anaemic people. No chemicals are used in preparation of jaggery as compared to refined sugar.
10 Medicinal benefits of Jaggery:
1. For digestion: Traditionally, a peice of jaggery eaten just after meal, is known to regulate the formation of hydrochloric acid in the stomach. This positively effects the entire process of digestion— and eases digestion and bowel movement.
2. Boosts immunity: It is jam-packed with antioxidants it can build the immunity and further keep diseases at bay. On the other hand, sugar has been touted as a source of ’empty calories’ with no nutritional value. So, when it comes to sugar, it is definitely a healthier option.
3. For menstrual pain: It is known for easing the menstrual pain, Additionally, those who experience mood swings or frustration before their periods should also eat the same in small amounts since it helps to release endorphins that relax one’s body.
4. For blood pressure: The presence of potassium and sodium in it helps maintain acid levels in the body. This, in turn, maintains normal blood pressure levels. So if someone suffers from high or low blood pressure, including it in their diet would be of great help!
5. For diabetic patients: Sugar is absorbed instantly in the body whereas jaggery being unrefined is absorbed slowly. Therefore, it doesn’t spike blood sugar levels as rapidly as sugar. Even then, only a little amount should be consumed.
6. For joints pain: For people suffering from arthritis or any kind of pain in the joints, the consumption of jaggery can provide immense pain relief. When eaten with ginger, the effectiveness only improves.
7. For weight loss: It helps in maintaining the electrolyte balance and helps prevent water retention thanks to its potassium content whereas sugar is responsible for inducing sudden blood sugar spikes which leads to weight gain. Replacing sugar with jaggery is a healthier option.
8. For lungs: According to Ayurveda, it works as an exceptional remedy for treating breathing disorders. Its anti-allergic properties eliminate the toxins and any mucus out of the respiratory system. It helps in treating asthma, cough, cold and chest congestion by cleansing the passage. Sugar has no health benefits.
9. For Anemia: It contains iron but the portion is really low so it cannot be recommended as complete iron supplement. It can only be considered a better option as compared to refined sugar.
10. For urinary tract infection: Sugarcane is a natural diuretic, so jaggery too possesses this property. Reducing inflammation of the bladder, stimulating urination and improving the smooth flow of urine are some issues that regular intake of this nutritious food item can easily help with.
Safety Precautions: Although jaggery is packed with nutrients, it does add calories to your diet. Also, consuming it in excess amount may cause other health problems. So, it is beneficial but only when taken in moderation.