In the constantly changing world of nutrition, our search for better sweeteners frequently leads us back to ancient treasures like jaggery, also known as "Gur" in India. Jaggery, regarded for its low processing level and possible health benefits, is becoming well-known as a natural alternative to processed sugars.
In this blog article, let’s see about the real nutritive value of jaggery and its impact on diabetes.
What is Jaggery?
Jaggery is a natural sweetener derived from concentrated sugarcane juice or date palm sap. Highly popular in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, it stands out for its minimal processing compared to refined sugars.
Beyond its sweetness, unrefined jaggery is valued for its high medicinal value. Packed with antioxidants, it positively affects cardiovascular function, boosts immune health, and has potential benefits for certain gastrointestinal disorders. Its nutrient profile includes iron, magnesium, calcium, and potassium. BUT remember that sufficient quantities of jaggery has to be consumed to get a dose of these anti-oxidants and minerals. Keep in mind that the amount calories and carbohydrates that will be entering your body, when you consume so much Jaggery. Read on to know more.
When jaggery is prepared, a by-product that is much less refined than crystallized sugar is produced. Jaggery therefore keeps its potassium, calcium, magnesium, and iron content. It is best to consume organic jaggery because it’s free from chemicals.
Now, let’s see the nutritional value of jaggery, and glycemic index.
Jaggery Nutritive Value:
Jaggery contains molasses, a nutrient-rich byproduct derived from sugar production. Unlike refined sugar, jaggery retains more nutrients. Let’s see the nutritive value of 100 grams of jaggery.
*All the above values are the approximate values of 100 gms jaggery.
GI of Jaggery:
The Glycemic Index is one of the most important factors to consider when choosing which sweeteners to use. The glycemic index (GI) of jaggery is 84.4, which is relatively high. A lot of sugar is present in food with a high GI. However, if you choose to include jaggery, ensure moderate consumption, limiting it to one or two teaspoons daily.
Can Diabetes Include Jaggery in Their Diet?
Adding natural sweeteners instead of artificial ones is healthier in a diabetes diet. However, it is important to note that not all natural sweeteners are safe for people with diabetes.
Jaggery made from organic ingredients is a better option than white sugar, which undergoes heavy processing. Unlike white sugar, organic jaggery does not contain chemicals and additives. However, it is important to keep in mind that the benefits of jaggery only apply when its intake is limited.
It is often believed that jaggery is a healthier substitute for refined sugar, but this is not entirely true. Even though jaggery looks like a better option, it can still cause an increase in blood sugar levels because it contains a high amount of carbohydrates and can shoot up your blood sugar.
100g of jaggery contains 98.96g of carbohydrates and 383 calories. In comparison, a 100g serving of sugar has about 100g of carbohydrates and 387 calories, which implies that jaggery is only insignificantly better than sugar. This means that people with diabetes should avoid consuming jaggery and sugar in large quantities, as both are equally unhealthy for them.
Does Jaggery Cause Diabetes?
The common belief is that the intake of lots of sugars causes diabetes, is only partially true. But it’s not true for type 1 diabetes- It’s more an auto-immune or a genetic condition. However, type 2 diabetes often comes from lifestyle factors which include an unhealthy diet. Jaggery, with its high Glycemic Index (GI) of 85, isn't suitable for those with diabetes or prediabetes due to its potential to cause rapid blood sugar spikes.
Can Jaggery cause diabetes? Jaggery doesn’t cause diabetes directly but it can increase the risk. For example, If someone over 35 is not diabetic, but consumes sugar, the insulin surges are triggered. This combined with a sedentary lifestyle, can slow down their metabolism. When the consumed food is not metabolized quickly enough and the sugar molecules are not converted into energy at a fast pace, it can lead to the accumulation of sugar in the body, resulting in the diagnosis of diabetes.
Benefits of Jaggery:
There are a few touted benefits of jaggery.
- Helps in weight management - Questionable as the calories from sugar and jaggery are similar.
- Jaggery helps to maintain the electrolyte balance - Only if sufficient quantities are taken.
- Jaggery Improves digestion.
- Jaggery helps to purify blood - Only if sufficient quantities are taken.
- It helps in preventing Anemia.
- It helps to boost immunity.
Side Effects of Jaggery:
Even though jaggery has few benefits, it's important to consider any potential side effects it may have on our health. Here are a few considerations:
- Weight Gain: The high calorie and sugar content of jaggery might make it a contributing factor to weight gain. Being mindful of your intake is crucial to maintaining a healthy weight.
- Constipation: Consuming too much jaggery may cause digestive tract disruption and consequent constipation. Particularly freshly prepared jaggery could be prone to indigestion.
- Allergies: Jaggery may cause allergies in people who are sensitive to sugar. Although individual responses differ, it is recommended that those with sugar sensitivity take jaggery in moderation.
- Blood Sugar Levels: Although jaggery has few health benefits, it contains sugar, which can cause blood sugar levels to increase. While 1-2 teaspoons may be permitted , excessive consumption should be avoided. This means that it is not suitable for those with diabetes because it may lead to hyperglycemia.
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