It’s sweet, delicious, inexpensive and good for health—it’s unrefined sugar, which is pure and wholesome. Jaggery, popularly known as gur in India, is energy and nutrient dense. Internationally, it is known as Panela.
Prevents anaemia: The high iron content of jaggery is what lends it the characteristic dark colour. Consuming jaggery regularly prevents iron deficiency anaemia.
Eases pre-menstrual syndrome: The sweetness of jaggery releases feel-good endorphins, which offer relief in pre-menstrual syndrome, depression and anxiety. It also helps relieve associated bloating and water retention.
Relieves muscle cramps: The magnesium content eases muscle aches and twitches. It helps manage restless leg syndrome.
Boosts immunity: The zinc and selenium present work on enzyme systems of our body that scavenge free radicals. The phenol in jaggery also has powerful antioxidant effects that helps the body build resistance.
Regulates blood pressure: The potassium content in jaggery helps keep a check on blood pressure and oedema.
Relieves flatulence and acidity: Jaggery activates digestive enzymes and speeds up digestion. That’s why it’s recommended to have some jaggery after a meal.
Acts as an expectorant: Jaggery helps expel phlegm, thus offering relief from cold and cough.
Warms the body: Jaggery has the ability to warm the blood, making you feel cosy during extreme cold.
Eases hiccups: Jaggery is recommended as a proven remedy for hiccups.
Helps detox: Being rich in antioxidants and fibre, jaggery helps cleanse and detoxify the system. It is often lauded for its ability to fight effects of pollution. It is particularly beneficial for factory and mine workers, who are constantly surrounded by dust and other pollutants.
Types of jaggery
Commonly, jaggery refers to the molasses obtained from sugarcane juice. However, it can also refer to the jaggery that is produced from the sap of various palms like date, toddy or Palmyra. Sugarcane jaggery: This is golden-brown to dark-brown in colour and is prepared by boiling sugarcane juice. It is used in most Indian households.
Date palm jaggery: This jaggery is also golden-brown to dark-brown in colour and is made by boiling the sap of the date palm. It tastes like dark chocolate.
Palmyra jaggery: This is off-white to pale-yellow in colour and is prepared by boiling the sap of the Palmyra palm. It tastes like white chocolate.
Toddy palm jaggery: Prepared by boiling the sap of the toddy palm, this variety is golden brown in colour and is popular in Myanmar.
Jaggery is also made from sago and coconut palms. The colour of this variety is golden-brown to dark-brown.
In your diet
- Add jaggery to your breakfast cereal or porridge
- Substitute white sugar in your tea/coffee with jaggery
- Add a pinch of jaggery to dal preparations
- Use it in squashes, pickles and jams
- Use it in candies and chocolates
- Use it in desserts.
How to buy and store
Prefer organic jaggery to the one made with chemicals. The darker the colour, the more iron it has. As jaggery tends to absorb water, store it in an airtight container, in a cool, dry and dark place at room temperature. If stored in proper conditions, it lasts up to a year.
Who can have jaggery?
People of all ages. It is particularly beneficial to children and adolescents, pregnant women, geriatrics and athletes. However, it is not recommended for diabetics as it is a concentrated source of simple sugars and can shoot up sugar levels. It is also not recommended for obese individuals.
This was first published in the February 2012 issue of Complete Wellbeing.
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