Jaggery benefits and its side effects

Know in one minute about jaggery benefits

  • Jaggery contains a high amount of chromium, which reduces the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular problems.
  • Boost immunity and provide energy for a long time.
  • Treat indigestion, inflammation, anemia, and migraine.
  • Reduce the effect of a toxin like heavy metal and aflatoxin.
  • Purify blood, clean respiratory, and gastrointestinal tract.
  • Prevent lung, stomach, kidney, liver as well as intestine injury.
  • Treat cold, cough, and menstrual cramps.
  • It helps to remove toxins from the body thus good for the skin.

Introduction

Jaggery (Gur) is a natural sweetener made by the concentration of sugarcane juice. It contains all minerals and vitamins present in sugarcane juice. Its nutritional value is higher than that of refined sugar and known as the healthiest sugar in the world. It is also called “medicinal sugar” because of its use in Ayurveda as well as its comparison with honey (1)Jaggery benefits in health due to its mineral content which provides energy for a longer time without any side effects. Jaggery is consumed either directly or used in the preparation of various sweet based foods.

Organic jaggery is produced from sugarcane cultivated in organic farms without the application of chemical fertilizers or pesticides. Three forms of jaggery are available in market viz., solid jaggery, liquid jaggery, and granular jaggery. Besides this, the sap collected from some palm trees such as palmyra-palm (Borassus flabellifer L.), coconut palm (Cocos nucifera L.), wild date palm (Phoenix sylvestris Roxb.) and sago-palm (Caryota urens L.) is used for the preparation of jaggery. The good quality of jaggery is golden yellow and hard in texture. Moreover, it is crystalline in structure, sweet in taste, less in impurities, and low in moisture. It contains more than 70% sucrose, less than 10% of glucose and fructose, and 5% minerals, 3%, and moisture.

Common name

Jaggery is known by many different names: 

  • Gud or gur and jaggery in India
  • Desi in Pakistan
  • Muscovado and Rapadura in Brazil and Portugal 
  • Chancaca in Chile and Peru, 
  • Papelón or panela in Venezuela
  • Kokuto in Japan
  • Naam Taan Oi in Thailand
  • Palmzucker in Germany
  • Hukuru in Sri Lanka, 
  • Panocha or Panutsa in the Philippines
  • Panela or piloncillo in Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, and other Central American countries. 

Geographical distribution

It is a traditional unrefined non-centrifugal sugar consumed in Asia and South America, the major producers being India and Colombia. 

Nutritional value of Jaggery

The major constituents of jaggery are sucrose (50%), invert sugars (20 %), and moisture (20%). The remaining part contains insoluble matter such as wood ash, proteins, and bagasse fibers, etc. It contains all the vitamins (2).

 

Compound Amounts per 100 g.
Water  8.28 g
Energy  311 Kcal
Protein  280 mg
Total lipid (fat)  6.7 g
Carbohydrate 68.47 g
Fiber, total dietary  28 g
Calcium 40-100 mg
Iron, Fe  10-13 mg
Magnesium  70-90 mg
Phosphorus  20-90 mg
Potassium  1056 mg
Sodium   19-30 mg
Zinc  0.2-0.4 mg
Copper  0.1-0.9 mg
Manganese 0.2-0.5 mg
chloride  5.3 mg 
Vitamin A 3.8 mg
Vitamin B1 0.01 mg
Vitamin B2 0.06 mg
Vitamin B5 0.01 mg
Vitamin B6 0.01 mg
Vitamin C 7 mg
Vitamin D2 6.50 mg
Vitamin E1 11.30 mg
Vitamin PP 7.00 mg

Health Benefits of Jaggery 

Some of the jaggery benefits are as follows

1. Treat kidney & liver injury

Intake to jaggery helps to enhance the antioxidants from the body. It also reduces the lipid peroxidation level in the liver and kidney (3). Thus jaggery is effective to reduce liver and kidney injury induces by various chemicals (4).

2. Anti-inflammatory properties of Jaggery

Jaggery is an excellent source of polyphenols that inhibit the enzyme (lipoxygenase). This enzyme plays an important role in the initiation of inflammatory diseases. Thus jaggery acts as an anti-inflammatory agent to treat asthma, psoriasis, allergic rhinitis, and rheumatoid arthritis (5).

3. Inhibit aflatoxin production

Aspergillus flavus is a pathogenic fungus that produces carcinogenic toxins called aflatoxins. This toxin can damage the liver. Sugarcane plants can uptake aflatoxin from contaminated soil. But during jaggery preparation aflatoxin is reduced. Also, a higher concentration of jaggery helps to inhibit this fungus growth and aflatoxin production (6).

4. Jaggery reduce the effect of heavy metal

Drinking water is the major source of heavy metal such as arsenic, which affects the health and causes arsenicosis. However, vitamins, minerals, carotene, and polyphenols present in the jaggery help to enhance antioxidant enzyme levels (7).

Besides, jaggery reduces chromosomal and DNA damage as well as removing harmful radicals from the body. Thus, the daily consumption of jaggery can minimize the negative effects induced by environmental toxicants (8).

5. Antioxidant and gastroprotective properties of Jaggery

Research study proved that jaggery contains a higher amount of phenolic acid than white and brown sugar. This compound not only protects cells against harmful agents but also removes harmful radicals from the body.

Therefore, jaggery may stimulate mucus production, enhance blood flow throughout the lining of the gastrointestinal tract, and protect from ulcers (9).

6. Higher chromium content in Jaggery than white and brown sugar

Chromium is essential for the metabolism of carbohydrates and lipids. Its deficiency can cause disease, diabetes, and other diseases like cardiovascular disease. In short, body chromium content may reduce by eating refined sugar, because chromium excreted in the urine. In this case, the consumption of jaggery is a better source of chromium supply than white and brown sugar (10)

7. Jaggery is essential for healthy lungs

Jaggery benefits are because it contains a good amount of vitamin C which is not synthesized within the human body. This vitamin improves the respiratory defense system. It helps to treat respiratory disorders, thus preventing lung damage, induced by dusty and smoky environments (11).

8. Treat iron deficiency anemia

Intake of jaggery (5 g each) once daily in the morning for 8 weeks increases hemoglobin (Hb) level. It also helps to increase red blood cell count in children as well as adults. Jaggery apart from iron (3 mg of iron /100 g) also contains ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) which enhances iron absorption (12).

9. Prevent and cure migraine

Jaggery contains a good amount of iron and also contains many minerals such as magnesium, potassium, calcium, manganese, zinc, and selenium. It helps to fulfill the magnesium loss in the brain that occurs during a migraine attack and strengthens the nervous system.

Also, iron in jaggery prevents migraine attacks in people suffering from iron deficiency. Thus jaggery reduces the frequency of headaches and also provides relief from attacks  (13).

10. Boost immunity

Jaggery is an excellent source of carbohydrates and other minerals, which enter into the pool of nutrition. It helps to improve tissue nourishment and enhance the antioxidant system thus boosting immunity (14).

Other benefits of jaggery 

Beside above major jaggery benefits, some of the other jaggery benefits if taken regularly are as follows

1. Rich in nutrients

Jaggery benefits are due to the high nutritive value and contain minerals like iron, calcium, etc. It contains ferrous salts (iron) during its preparation. As it is prepared in iron vessels that are good for an anemic person. Apart from this it also contains traces of mineral salts that come from the sugar cane juice where it is absorbed from the soil. 

2. Detox the body

Ingestion of jaggery after a meal acts as a detox agent that cleans the liver by flushing toxins.

3. Relief menstrual pain

Jaggery helps to reduce premenstrual syndrome with symptoms like mood swings, menstrual cramps, and abdominal pain in women (15).

4. Treats cough and cold

Daily use of jaggery may be useful to quiet down cough and congestion (16).

5. Purifies blood

Consumption of jaggery purifies blood, and overcomes the requirement of iron and calcium in children and women and increases life span (17).

Jaggery vs. Sugar

  • Sugar means white sugar, honey, or brown sugar. But Jaggery also is known as “traditional sugars”. 
  • Jaggery is richer than sugar in important nutritive components. It contains 65–85% sucrose while sugar is almost pure sucrose (99.5 %) which leads to varieties of health problems (18).
  • The minerals like magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, sodium, iron, manganese, zinc, and copper are present in jaggery. Also, contain vitamins in the ranges from 0.6% to 1.0%, unlike sugar which contains only 0.05% mineral content (19).
  • Important mineral salts with 2.8 g/100 g found in jaggery which gives its salty taste. Whereas refined sugar has only 300 mg/kg mineral salt. 
  • Jaggery is more complex than sugar, as it is made up of long chains of sucrose. Hence, it is digested slower than sugar and releases energy slowly and not spontaneously. This provides energy for a longer time and is not harmful to the body (20).
  • At the time of production of sugar, it is mixed up with chemicals like sulfur- dioxide, lime, phosphoric acid, and formic acid. Also, add bleaching agents to get white color, which is not good for health. On the other hand, jaggery has low cost, high nutritive value without any treatment.
  • Refined sugar is white, whereas jaggery is a honey brown colored raw lump of sugar. 
  • Jaggery acts as a blood-purifying agent and is known as energy food that regulates body functions.  Let’s take a look at the typical composition of jaggery and white cane sugar (21).
Compound Jaggery (Amount per 100 g) Sugar (Amount per 100 g)
Energy 383 Kcal 398 Kcal
Moisture 3.0–10.0 g 0.2–0.4 g
Sucrose 65.0–85.0 g 99.5 g
Reducing glucids 10.0–15.0 g
Protein 0.4 g
Fats 0.1 g
Total minerals 0.6–1.0 g 0.05
Calcium 8.0 mg
Phosphorus 4.0 mg
Iron 11.0 mg

 

Solid jaggery vs. Powder jaggery

The solid jaggery making process involves stirring for 10–15 min. Then settling and molding allows the formation of conventional solid blocks. On the other hand, to make powdered jaggery, the concentrated syrup is stirred continuously and vigorously.

This way jaggery is not allowed to solidify in bulk and granulate by beating, to promote dehydration of the product. Both are just like sugar and applicable in the same way (beverages, desserts, and sweet and sour preparations).

  • Jaggery powder contains lower moisture than solid jaggery blocks.
  • Solid jaggery is easier to make into molds, pack, and transport than powdered jaggery.
  • Powder jaggery has a user-friendly nature in handling and utilization. On the other hand, solid jaggery lumps are difficult to cut into small pieces. 
  • The crystallinity of jaggery powder is higher compared to corresponding solid blocks.
  • Extra is stirring involved in making jaggery powder results in an increase in crystallinity (22).
  • Jaggery powder is easier to measure, more stable during storage, and more soluble than solid jaggery (23).

Side effect of Jaggery

Although there are very little side effects of Jaggery. Eating jaggery does not cause any harmful effects on body. But handling hot jaggery or eating refined or jaggery with improved color may be harmful.

1. Jaggery can cause deadly Pediatric Burns

During the preparation of jaggery in large open boiling, vats can cause severe burn this precaution should be needed especially for children and young people (24).

2. Avoid eating lighter colored jaggery as it contains sulfur dioxide

To improve is color (lighter) sodium hydrosulfite or sulfur dioxide (SO2) is used in the jaggery industry. Hence, minerals, polyphenols, and flavonoids get reduced and are injurious to health (25). Therefore, it is advisable to consume jaggery which is darker in color (26).

Q &A

Is jaggery good for weight loss?

Jaggery is also known as “traditional sugars” which is produced from sugarcane just like sugar. It contains 65%–85% sucrose and is also a source of calcium, potassium, and iron. Although, both jaggeries, as well as sugar consumption, may develop weight gain, hyperglycemia, and atherosclerosis (27).

Is jaggery better than sugar?

Yes, It’s cheaper than white sugar, contains various nutrients, and beneficial health effects when compared with the white sugar. Moreover, intake of sugar can cause health problems, mainly diabetes, and obesity. Thus jaggery is a good option for individuals to reduce the consumption of dietary sugar and be beneficial for health.

When should we eat jaggery?

Jaggery can be consuming any time like morning, afternoon, or night. But after a meal, it gives the complete satisfaction of food and helps in digestion processes.  

How much jaggery is good for health?

No recommended dosages are reported for jaggery thus Intake of 10 -20 gm of jaggery is good for health.  But this does not certify it fit for consumption by diabetics because ultimately it is sugar. Thus, an excess of everything is bad for health (28).

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