Jaggery has become popular in the past few years and people claim it’s the perfect “replacement” for sugar and syrups.
Some people consider it as a super-food with extreme healing properties.
But, is all that true? Or we are facing just another hoax here?
What is Jaggery?
Jaggery is a sweetener made of unrefined sugar and its also called “non-centrifugal sugar”.
It is used all over the world and known with a variety of names, for example (1):
- Colombia: Panela
- México: Panela y piloncillo
- Costa Rica: Tapa dulce.
- Japan: Kokuto
Even that it is known pretty much all over the world it is commonly used in Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean.
How is it made?
The main Jaggery manufacturer is India, where is commonly called “gur”, and is made with sugar cane or date palm (2).
Surprising the process it consist of a combination of methods of pressing and distilling cane or palm and it is made in 3 steps (3):
The colour can vary from golden to brown.
Lighter colours have more sucrose and minerals and less isolated glucose and fructose (4).
It can be found in a granulated, liquid or solid form.
Sugar vs. Jaggery
It is true that jaggery contains more nutrients than refined sugar and this is because its molasses content which is removed when making refined sugar.
However, jaggery still mostly sugar and that is a big concern when it coms to describe it as nutritious.
Its important for you to have in mind that to have a meaningful amount of nutrients from jaggery you would need to eat a lot of it and that would mean a lot of extra calories for your diet.
If you are really worried about getting a greater amount of nutrients it could be better for you to have them from other sources like fruits and vegetables.
That said, it is in fact, more nutritious than refined white sugar that only contains empty calories (without vitamins or minerals) (4).
100 grammes (3.5 oz) of jaggery contain (5):
- Calories: 383.
- Sucrose: 65–85 grammes.
- Fructose and glucose: 10–15 grammes.
- Protein: 280 mg
- Fat: 0.1 grams.
- Iron: 11 mg, or 61% of the RDI.
- Magnesium: 70-90 mg, or about 20% of the RDI.
- Potassium: 1050 mg, or 30% of the RDI.
- Manganese: 0.2–0.5 mg, or 10–20% of the RDI.
- Zinc: 0.2-0.4 mg
- Calcium: 40-100 mg
- Phosphorus: 20-90 mg
- Copper: 0.1-0.9 mg
- Chloride: 5.9 mg
- Sodium: 19-30 mg
- A: 3.8 mg
- B1, B5, B6: 0.01 mg
- B2: 0.06 mg
- C: 7.00 mg
- D: 6.50 mg
- E: 111.30 mg
- PP: 7.00 mg
However, keep in mind that this is a half a cup serving, which is much higher than a regular recommended portion of any sweetener per person.
So keep in mind that you would probably consume a tablespoon or a teaspoon of jaggery.
Is there any health benefits I can have from jaggery?
Jaggery has gain popularity amount health enthusiast because they say it has various health benefits.
But that might not be entirely true.
Some people claim that it helps to:
- Treat digestive problems
- Prevent anemia
- Detox your body
- Boost your immune system
To help regular bowel movements it is necessary to have a diet high in fibre and water (6).
But when it comes to jaggery you can only find large amounts of common sugar and some fibre but not enough to make a positive impact in your digestive health.
Scientific studies suggest the iron in non-centrifugal sugars, like jaggery, is more easily use by your body than any other source of No HEM iron (7).
But even that jaggery contains 61% of the iron RDI in 100 grammes it is unlikely to actually eat 100 grammes on a regular basis without suffering the consequences of having those extra calories in your day (2).
Detox Your Body
Boost Your Immune System
There is no evidence that support jaggery boosts your immune system (11).
However, it has a high-calorie content and that will give you a boost of energy to your body.
Jaggery is a healthier choice than white sugar because it gives you a few extra nutrients apart from sugar.
But the calories from refined white sugar and jaggery are very similar.