Though both sugar and jaggery are obtained from sugarcane juice, it is a processing method that makes these both entirely different products, and yes, jaggery is widely considered a healthier option.
The key differences between jaggery and sugar are color, texture, processing and composition.
Refined sugar is typically white in color, whereas jaggery is yellow to brown in color, depending upon the length of processing.
Sugar is hard and crystalline while jaggery is semi-solid and indefinite in shape.
The initial stage of processing sugar and jaggery from sugar cane juice is the same. However, it changes from that point onwards.
After the initial stage of boiling, sugar is treated with charcoal to remove all the impurities and the final product is clear and transparent. The syrup is further condensed and crystallizes to form sugar.
Jaggery, on the other hand, doesn’t go for any treatment and crystallization. It is boiled continuously to get that thick consistency and then poured into desired molds or shape required.
Sugar is pure sucrose, jaggery is composed of sucrose, trace minerals, iron, salts and a small amount of fiber.
Health Benefits Of Jaggery
Jaggery is extremely beneficial in treating respiratory disorders, the anti-allergic properties of jaggery eliminate the toxins and any mucus out of the respiratory system. It treats persons with asthma, cough, cold and chest congestion by cleansing the passage.
Jaggery is excellent to promote digestion, it is a tradition to eat a piece of jaggery after food to boost digestion and it also helps in clearing the bowel.
Replacing sugar with jaggery is also beneficial for an anemic person in improving their hemoglobin levels.
Refined sugar is the simplest form of sucrose that is readily absorbed by the blood and releases instant energy. It provides you with empty calories and can cause a sudden spike in blood glucose levels. This doesn’t do good for people with diabetes and possess the risk of damage to vital organs and overconsumption of refined sugar results in weight gain.
So, if you have chosen between refined sugar and jaggery, vote for the latter as it is healthier and provides the body with the necessary amount of iron.
Additional Health Benefits Of Jaggery
Detoxification Of The Liver
Jaggery has been used for ages to help flush out toxic chemicals from the bloodstream. It contains antioxidants and essential minerals such as zinc and selenium, which can help in liver cleansing thus further aiding in detoxification of the liver.
Controls Blood Pressure
Jaggery contains essential nutrients like potassium and sodium that help in maintaining a proper balance of acids in the body. When acids are accurately balanced, blood pressure levels also remain in place. People with high blood pressure issues are advised to consume jaggery in small amounts every day to get benefitted.
Great Source Of Energy
A complex carbohydrate, jaggery is loaded with abundant nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, and phosphorus, with trace amounts of zinc, copper, thiamine, and riboflavin. Jaggery gradually energizes the body and keeps it energized throughout the day preventing weakness and chronic fatigue.
Aids Weight Loss
Jaggery has all the essential nutrients and minerals that help to preserve the balance of electrolytes. It also has significant amounts of potassium that allows water retention which eventually aids the process of weight loss.
Paanakam / Jaggery Juice
An authentic traditional juice of jaggery from the south Indian kitchen, this is usually prepared during the festivities of Ram Navami, Thai Poosum or Navratri as “naivedhyam”, or an offering to God.
If you have an aversion to tea and are looking for a healthy alternative, this highly nutritious drink is an alternative option to quench your thirst and also serve as a natural coolant for your body.
3-4 glasses of water
½ cup powdered jaggery
3-4 cardamom (powdered)
1 tbsp sonth (grated and dried ginger)
5-6 grams sabja seeds
½ tbsp lemon juice
2-3 mint leaves
Soak the powdered jaggery and sabja seeds in two separate vessels in the water and allow it to settle down for 5-6 mins.
Strain the jaggery water to remove solid particles or impurities.
Add cardamom powder, sonth, swollen sabja seeds to the jaggery water.
Add a dash of lemon juice and garnish it with mint leaves.
Jaggery is high in iron and minerals boosts immunity and is good for people suffering from anemia. Sabja seeds and mint leaves soothe the stomach whereas cardamom prevents bad breath and cavities.