Medicinal values and health benefits of Jaggery

Jaggery is a very common item used in Indian homes and used for making various sweet foods. However not many know that jaggery has medicinal value. It is because of the medicinal value and health benefits that ancestors have made jaggery a common item in our food consumption pattern.

What is Jaggery

Jaggery is a very common food ingredient item used in kitchen in Indian homes for many recipes. Apart from preparation of desserts and special sweets, It is used to add flavour and taste to many dishes.

Jaggery is unrefined form of sugar used for food and consumption. It is made from Sugarcane juice. Juice is extracted by crushing ripe raw sugar cane sticks. The juice thus extracted is heated in large vessels until it becomes thick concentrate and near solid. That is then made into blocks or made into rounds or needed shape using moulds, and allowed to solidify.

Jaggery is known in Indian different languages as Sharkara, Vellam, Bellam, Gud(gur) etc. A variety of jiggery called Palm Jaggery is made from palm juice extract of date palms.

How jaggery is different from white sugar

Jaggery is unrefined. It is not subjected to any chemical bleaching process. In fact no chemicals are added and the process uses simple evaporation by heating. Hence it is also made in villages near sugarcane farms without using any advanced technology also. It is a good substitute of sugar with good sweetness. It has more than calorie value and has many nutrients and has nutrient and medicinal value and hence used as ingredient in many Ayurvedic and native medicines.

Medicinal value and health benefits of Jaggery

Indian Ayurvedic preparations use Jaggery, not sugar, in them.

  1. Supplies iron: Jaggery contains iron in easy absorbable and digestible form. Iron is important and needed for blood especially for [production of haemoglobin. Hence jaggery is used in treating anaemia due to iron deficiency. For the same reason it is useful in pregnancy.

  2. Helps digestion: Small amount of Jaggery used along with or after meals enables digestion. It soothes the internal wall linings from tongue to the intestines and protects from the irritating food items like hot spice. Hence most full course dinner and meals used to have desserts made using Jaggery like the Indian Kheer, or payasam etc. In many homes elders used to swallow a small piece of jaggery after a meal.

  3. Jaggery has beneficial effects in reducing the menstrual pains and cramps some women face during periods. Women during that time can take jaggery drinks or foods with jaggery. They can even munch on a piece of jaggery, slowly tasting it.

  4. Jaggery, especially Palm Jaggery, is helpful to reduce fever. Black coffee made by boiling water, jaggery and coffee powder and consumed when moderately warm results in perspiration and reduction of fever.

  5. Jaggery with a little ginger is very helpful in stopping the vomiting occurring early morning, on an empty stomach or during travel. In general this cures indigestion in adults and children.

  6. Unlike sugar, Jaggery contains many minerals like Potassium, Zinc, magnesium etc. So jaggery is beneficial as a tonic and preventive to many health issues. It can regulate and maintain healthy levels of blood pressure. It has anti-oxidants like selenium which helps slow aging. The very famous preparation for maintaining youth and vitality-"Chayvanprash' contains jaggery along with other major ingredients.

  7. Jaggery gives instant energy. It is due to this jaggery is used in the 'prasad' like 'thrimadhuram' given to devotees in many temples early morning. The small amount of the sweet Prasad 'Thrimadhuram' which may contain fruits pieces can give needed energy for the start of a day and can supply the brain its needed nutrients for the day.

  8. Diabetics however may regulate and moderate use of jaggery as per their state of health and sugar level, as jaggery can increase sugar level. However as jaggery is slightly less sweet than sugar and it is not hundred percent sugar, relatively jaggery is preferable for diabetics rather than sugar.

  9. Jaggery can be used in cool drinks in summer. Eating a little quantity of jaggery can reduce the 'in-between-meals' hunger for children and adults.

  10. Jaggery helps as a diuretic and helps in reducing water retention in body.

Jaggery- a must in homes

It is because of the medicinal and nutrient value of jaggery that most of the sweets prepared during the various festivals in India use jaggery as major ingredient. The tradition in India is to use food itself as preventive and curative medicines. Most of the Ayurvedic medicines like 'arishtams' and Lehyas have jaggery as an important ingredient.

Keeping jaggery on the kitchen shelf can be helpful not just as a sweetener and sugar substitute, but a very handy home remedy and preventive medicine.

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Author: K Mohan22 Mar 2017 Member Level: Platinum   Points : 2

Author has made nice presentation of importance of jaggery in our foods which not only bring good and different taste but also helps in maintaining our health. In this regard I wish to mention that in every Kannadigas homes the sambar is prepared by adding little bit of jaggery and even today when I go to any Udupi restaurant in Hyderabad, invariably I find jaggery is being used in Sambar and Rasam recipes. Some people have the habit of taking jaggery included tea and not sugar mixed tea. There are elders who take peanuts along with some jaggery even today. So jaggery has become the must item in our Indian kitchen.

Author: Juana17 Aug 2017 Member Level: Platinum   Points : 6

Jaggery also makes a nice rustic breakfast, where it is eaten with oodles of desi-ghee and hot chapattis.

These days’ people, especially those into fitness and sports eat energy bars. In India, we have energy bars made from jaggery, and these are available in a wide variety. Jaggery is mixed with other nutritious ingredients and made into laddoos, chikki, toffee and gajak etc.

The most popular among these are items containing til (sesame seeds) and jaggery, peanuts and jaggery, dry fruits and jaggery, nuts and jaggery. These are instant energy boosters.

I once saw jaggery being made, in a village. And it wasn’t a very hygienic process. All sorts of living creatures and leaves were falling into the bubbling mix and were being churned into it. Flies swarmed the place in hundreds. I love a breakfast of chapatti, ghee and gur, but haven’t had it since.

Author: Venkiteswaran17 Aug 2017 Member Level: Diamond   Points : 2

Above comment by Juana leads me to another snack using Jaggery. It is prepared by mixing mildly soak-wetted rice flakes and jaggery. Usually children like this.
Legend has it that Sri Krishna was fond of this, and his friend Sudama brought this as gift to Krishna when he visited Mathura after long time since school days.

Not only humans like Jaggery, but Elephants also relish Jaggery. People feed Elephants Jaggery as such or in combination with Coconut or Banana fruits.

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