For someone like me, who has always been a hopeless sweet tooth, the choice between sugar-based sweets and jaggery was never really a tough one to make. After all, both were sweet. Period. That was all that mattered. Jaggery or not, both sweet types were attacked with equal gusto and devoured with the same passion. Not until I learnt recently, that jaggery had a greater edge over sugar – both in health and taste. That’s when I gave sugar the short shrift to become a hardcore jaggery fan. And, believe me, I didn’t regret it one bit!
There’s no denying that the exquisite sweetness of jaggery is far more comforting than that of overpowering taste of sugar. But what gives the brown sweetener a greater edge over its white cousin, is the innumerable health benefits it comes with. You’ll probably have a clearer idea when you get a low down on its many benefits. And maybe like I did, you’ll probably start favouring jaggery too!
Blood purifier: The rich iron content in jaggery can help spike up the hemoglobin levels to a great deal and prevent anaemia.
Soothes and relaxes: The high levels of selenium in jaggery has the power to relax our nerves. One reason why jaggery is often had with rotis at night … to ensure a good night’s sleep.
Post-natal energy food: Even today in rustic India, a woman who has delivered a child, is fed on a diet containing jaggery. It gives her lots of energy to recuperate faster and also removes blood clots in the body.
Anti-cancer and anti-ageing: The antioxidants in jaggery have powerful cancer fighting and age-delaying properties.
Low on calories: Jaggery has much less calories than sugar. Sugar is the simplest form of glucose available to us. Jaggery is solid and tougher to digest. Which is why, jaggery is more like a healthy carbohydrate than a form of glucose.
Relieves pains: The selenium in jaggery helps relieves cramps, migraines and menstrual cramps.
Rich source of minerals: Unlike sugar, jaggery is loaded with minerals, majorly iron along with traces of some mineral salts.
Great digestive: Jaggery helps cleanse the stomach, get rid of toxins and digestive problems. After a heavy meal, taking a few grams of jaggery helps in easy digestion of food.
Cures coughs and colds: Jaggery is an age-old home remedy for dry coughs and colds. A spoon of grated ginger and jaggery heated together is a great remedy for dry cough.
Did you know?
• In some parts of India, low quality jaggery is mixed with tobacco dust and used as toothpaste.
• Jaggery can enhance the taste of a sweet dish, better than sugar! And its less calorific too!
• In India, jaggery had no competition until sugar was introduced from China in the late 19th century. (In fact, that’s
where sugar gets its name from. ‘Chini’ in Hindi roughly translates to ‘Chinese origin’ or China).
• While buying jaggery, make sure it is dark. If it is too light in color, it is probably refined with soda and other
chemicals and of less nutritional value.