Jaggery is a wholesome sweetener that has, for ages, delighted Indian homes with its rich sweet taste. A type of unrefined sugar widely made from sugarcane, jaggery can also be made from palm trees like coconut and date palm. This traditional sweetener is commonly known as gur in Hindi, gul in Marathi, bellam in Telugu and vellam in Tamil.
But what makes jaggery an integral part of Indian culture is its enriching taste and essential nutrients. Some of the prominent vitamins and minerals it contains include calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, vitamin C, thiamine, riboflavin and niacin.
Health Benefits of Jaggery
Since a long time, people have been using jaggery in home remedies for various health issues. The health benefits of jaggery are mentioned even in Ayurveda, India’s most trusted traditional medicine. It has recommended a number of herbal concoctions using jaggery to bring relief from various diseases. Consuming jaggery daily in a moderate amount has numerous health benefits. Read on to find out what they are:
1. Assists weight loss
Are you looking for a long term solution for weight-management? Then you may try jaggery. Consuming jaggery after meal fosters good digestion while satiating your sweet tooth. For e.g. coconut jaggery is quite rich in potassium. Potassium prevents water retention in the body and improves metabolism.
2. Energises you instantly
Jaggery is power-packed with complex carbohydrates that boost energy levels in the body. Consume a piece of jaggery whenever you experience fatigue and you will feel energised in no time. Ayurveda says that jaggery has Rasayana (rejuvenating) and Balya (strength building) properties which help build overall health.
3. Boosts immunity:
Your young ones may not be careful about hygiene but you can protect them from common infections with jaggery. It contains immunity boosting micronutrients like vitamin C, zinc and selenium.
The immune system incurs oxidative damage while fighting off bacteria and viruses. Vitamin C and zinc help maintain a healthy immune system by preventing this oxidative damage. Also, selenium enhances your body’s immune response against these microbes. You can make jaggery a part of your family diet to keep diseases at bay.
4. Alleviates respiratory problems:
Often recommended for cold and cough, jaggery soothes throat irritation and helps clear the respiratory tract. It has been proven to be beneficial as a lung cleanser. For people who regularly come into contact with dust, such as regular commuters, factory and construction workers, jaggery can be helpful in protecting them against diseases that arise from air pollutants. It also helps build resistance against respiratory issues caused due to season change.
5. Prevents anemia:
Anemia is a condition in which hemoglobin levels are significantly depleted. Hemoglobin is a protein responsible for carrying adequate oxygen to your body's tissues. Thus, low hemoglobin can cause various symptoms such as tiredness, shortness of breath, irregular heartbeats, headaches, dizziness, cold hands and feet and yellowish skin.
Rich in folate and iron, jaggery can aid in preventing anemia by increasing hemoglobin levels in the blood.
6. Purifies blood:
From carrying vital nutrients for all parts of the body to removing toxins, blood plays a vital role in the functioning of our bodies.
Jaggery has been highly recommended in the Ayurvedic ancient Indian medicine book, Sushruta Samhita for its blood purifying properties. You can use this healthy sweetener to cleanse your blood and detoxify your body.
7. Improves skin health:
A glowing skin is the first sign of a healthy lifestyle. It not just boosts your confidence but also improves your overall wellbeing.
Did you know that jaggery can help you get glowing skin? How? By purifying blood and feeding you with anti-oxidants, consumption of jaggery can improve the health of your skin, making it clear and smooth.
8. Reduces joint pain:
If you are suffering from joint pain, then regular consumption of jaggery can bring you immense relief. It is because this natural sweetener contains calcium and magnesium. These minerals keep bones strong and healthy.
Moreover, jaggery contains anti-inflammatory compounds like phenols and flavonoids which can provide relief from joint pain and stiffness. Drink a glass of milk with jaggery every day for stronger bones and healthier joints.
9. Eases digestive issues:
Since time immemorial, as a generational advice, elders in India have always recommended consuming a small amount of jaggery after meals for good health. And here’s the reason to it: jaggery helps activate digestive enzymes such as amylase (helps in digestion of carbohydrates), protease (helps in digestion of proteins) and lipase (helps in digestion of fats) that aid in proper digestion.
10. Relieves menstrual pain:
As jaggery is rich in magnesium and iron, it can be quite handy during your menstrual cycle. It can prevent iron deficiency which occurs commonly due to heavy blood loss. Also, magnesium can be effective in alleviating menstrual pain.
If you are experiencing fatigue and painful cramps, try eating jaggery. You will instantly feel energised and experience a modicum of relief.
A sweetener so healthy, it was recommended by Mahatma Gandhi
The benefits of jaggery have been highlighted by none other than our beloved Gandhiji in his newspaper titled Harijan. Gandhiji quoted, “Gur is any day superior to refined sugar in food value, and if the villagers cease to make gur as they are already beginning to do, they will be deprived of an important food adjunct for their children. They may do without gur themselves, but their children cannot without undermining their stamina. Gur is superior to bazaar sweets and to refined sugar.”
In a nutshell, jaggery can be beneficial to your health in a number of ways. From boosting energy to solving digestive issues. With all these benefits, would you include good old jaggery in your diet? Let us know in the comments.