The Magic Of Jaggery: Here’s How Gur Does Wonders For You! | POPxo

The Magic Of Jaggery: Here’s How Gur Does Wonders For You!

The Magic Of Jaggery: Here’s How Gur Does Wonders For You!

We are experiencing a relatively colder December this year and gearing up for even a colder January ahead. Now, we all have our own ways to keep ourselves comfortable and warm. From fruits to vegetables to nuts, there are a lot of foods specific to winters that provide us with much-needed comfort. While green veggies like spinach and methi provide us with iron and protein, there are traditional preparations like chikkis, laddoos and pinnis that are known to be warming foods. One of the traditional Indian favourites still remains to be jaggery, commonly known as Gur.
Do you remember our grandparents eating a piece of jaggery after their meals? Well, turns out there are pretty good reasons behind the same. From what exactly jaggery is to its health benefits to side effects, read on to know all about gur. 

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    Now, what is jaggery? Jaggery is an unrefined sugar that is popular as a healthy replacement for white sugar. It is sometimes referred to as non-centrifugal sugar. Gur is slightly less sweet than maple syrup and boasts a rich, brown sugar like-flavour. India produces about 70% of the world’s jaggery, where it is commonly known as gur.

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    Jaggery is usually made from concentrated sugarcane juice, but other than that there are four other kinds of jaggery. 

    • Nolen gur is found in Bengal and is made from date palm sap. 
    • A second type is made from coconut sap.
    • In Sri Lanka, they make jaggery from the sap of jaggery palm or kithul tree. 
    • In Myanmar, they make jaggery out of the sap of the local toddy palm.

    How Is Jaggery Made?

    As mentioned earlier, jaggery is commonly made from concentrated sugarcane juice. It is prepared without the separation of the molasses and crystals and involves three major steps.

    1. Extraction

    Firstly, the sugarcanes are pressed through machines in order to get all the juices or the sap from them, and this process is referred to as extraction.

    2. Clarification

    The next step is all about clarifying the liquid. The juice from the sugarcane is allowed to sit in large containers so that any sediment or residue settles at the bottom of the containers. After the residue gets settled, the juice is then strained to get a clearer liquid.

    3. Concentration

    After the process of clarification is over, the juice is placed in large flat bottomed pans and boiled for hours, and this is referred to as concentration. During this process, the juice is continuously stirred. While stirring, the impurities are removed from the surface until the liquid turns into a yellow dough-like thick paste. This paste is then transferred into huge moulds and left to cool. What we get after that is what we call jaggery or gur. 

    The colour of the jaggery can vary from light to dark brown, which completely depends on the quality of the sugarcane used. 

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    On the other hand, if we talk about white sugar, it is processed several times to form crystals. The process of making white sugar involves squeezing sugarcane to get the juice, partial clarifying, filtering the impurities, crystallizing it from syrup and drying the sugar crystals to make them edible.

    16 Health Benefits of Consuming Jaggery

    The basic and the most important difference between white sugar and gur is that the latter is not processed which undoubtedly makes it a healthier option. Not only gur is better than white sugar, it has a number of health benefits too. Well, there is a reason that jaggery is called ‘medicinal sugar’. 

    Here are 16 health benefits of consuming jaggery that will make you switch to jaggery as your go-to sweetener for everyday purposes. 

    1. Generates heat inside body

    Jaggery is mostly consumed in winters and there is a reason to it. Its potency or taseer, as our elders call it, is hot and therefore, heat is generated within your body. Our blood vessels tend to become narrower during winters and jaggery helps in dilating them and improving the blood flow.

    2. Gives your body the essential nutrients

    The seasonal delight that gur is, contains elements like iron, phosphorus, zinc, potassium, to name a few, and this makes its consumption even more nutritious.

    3. Boosts immunity

    Jaggery is loaded with antioxidants, which boost resistance against infections. Not only this, but it also helps in increasing haemoglobin in the body.

    4. Purifies your blood

    When consumed regularly and in moderate quantities, gur cleanses the blood and therefore contributes to a healthier body.

    5. Prevents constipation

    Gur aids in digestion and hence prevents constipation. It activates the digestive enzymes and therefore helps in digestion of food. And that is the reason why many people eat jaggery after their meal.

    6. Eases menstrual pain

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    Dear ladies, if you suffer from bad menstrual cramps, then jaggery can be very effective for you. It is a natural treatment for menstrual problems. Not only this, but jaggery can also be helpful if, in case, you experience sudden mood swings just before your period. Jaggery releases endorphins in your body, which relaxes your body. If you eat a small piece of gur daily, it will combat the symptoms of PMS.  

    7. Controls blood pressure

    Jaggery contains potassium and sodium, which play an important role in maintaining blood pressure.

    8. Benefits your respiratory system

    You can prevent yourselves from respiratory problems like asthma, bronchitis and others by regularly consuming a moderate amount of jaggery. Experts believe that eating jaggery with sesame seeds provides maximum benefits to your respiratory system.

    9. Keeps you energetic

    Jaggery is a natural sweetener and provides you with energy for a longer time. Why? Because while sugar is a simple carbohydrate and gives instant energy, jaggery is a complex carbohydrate that gives energy to the body gradually and for a longer period.

    10. Relieves joint-pain

    Several doctors claim that eating a moderate amount of jaggery regularly can give you much-needed relief if you suffer from joint pains. A glass of milk with jaggery everyday helps in strengthening the bones.

    11. Prevents anemia

    Jaggery is rich in folate and iron that ensure maintaining a normal amount of red blood cells in your body and thus prevents anemia.

    12. Helps in improving your intestinal health

    Jaggery has high magnesium content and every 10 gram of jaggery that you eat will give your body 16 gram of magnesium, which is four per cent of the daily requirement.

    13. Keeps your stomach cool

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    If you are thinking that gur can only benefit during winters, you’re wrong. Jaggery helps maintain your body temperature which keeps the stomach cool. Several experts suggest that drinking gur sharbat (jaggery soaked in ice water) during the summers will help keep your stomach cool.

    14. Detoxifies your liver

    A small piece of jaggery eaten regularly helps detoxify your liver by flushing out all the harmful toxins from the body.

    15. Fights symptoms of cold and cough

    Jaggery treats flu-like symptoms, and all you have to do is just mix some gur with warm water and drink it to reap benefits.

    16. Helps in losing weight

    Well, if consumed in moderation, jaggery can actually help you shed some extra kilos.

    Beauty Benefits Of Jaggery

    Yes, gur is an incredible sweet which benefits your health, but it also works as an amazing beauty product. Believe it or not, you can actually replace some very pricey and attractive skin and hair products from your collection with jaggery.

    Benefits of jaggery for skin

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    Gur is a very delicious way to have flawless skin. 

    • Consuming a medium-sized ball of gur every day can help you in the reduction of acne and pimples. 
    • As discussed earlier in the article, jaggery is rich in minerals and vitamins and therefore cleanses your body. It removes toxins from the body and gives you glowing skin, which looks hydrated and healthy. 
    • It also fights wrinkles as it has anti-ageing properties. Premature ageing can be treated with jaggery mixed with essential herbs and sesame seeds. 
    • Jaggery contains glycolic acid which helps in softening of the skin. All you have to do is mix one tablespoon of jaggery with two tablespoons of honey and some drops of lemon juice to form a paste. Apply it on your face and wash it off with lukewarm water once it dries. 
    • Jaggery can also help reduce pigmentation. Make a mixture of a pinch of turmeric powder, a few drops of lemon juice, one teaspoon tomato juice and one tablespoon of jaggery. Apply it on your face and leave it for 15 minutes. Wash it off with normal water once it begins to dry. 

    Benefits of jaggery for hair

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    • Jaggery is rich in iron and eating it regularly, in considerate amounts, prevents hair fall. 
    • Because of its iron-rich property, jaggery masks can make your hair shiny and silky. To create an amazing hair mask, mix one tablespoon of jaggery with two tablespoons of multani mitti and water to form a paste. Apply the paste on your hair and rinse well after ten minutes. 
    • When mixed with guava, jaggery boosts hair growth. 

    Here’s How You Can Shed Some Extra Kilos With Jaggery!

    Let’s admit the fact that we love to treat ourselves with sugary delights, but the problem arises when you start giving in to your cravings too often. It leads to various illnesses like obesity, fatty liver, diabetes and many more. Gur is considered to be a low-calorie alternative to white sugar and can do wonders for you if you use it correctly.

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    Reasons why jaggery is beneficial for weight loss!

    • It facilitates your digestion and hence prevents constipation. Several doctors have said that poor digestion leads to weight gain as it leads to constipation and our body is not able to eliminate the waste. 
    • As jaggery has huge amounts of potassium, it helps in improving the metabolism and as higher the metabolism rate is, it is easier for you to burn calories. 
    • Jaggery helps in reducing the water retention in your body. The presence of zinc and potassium in jaggery helps in maintaining the electrolyte balance of the body which then helps in getting rid of the water retention. 

    Side Effects Of Jaggery

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    Always remember that overindulgence of jaggery can reverse its benefits. Moderation is the key. It can have several side effects if you consume too much of it. 

    1. Might cause weight gain

    If you start binging on jaggery and use it liberally in all your desserts and drinks, you might end up gaining weight rather than losing. After all, it’s rich in carbohydrates and is all sugar.

    2. Too much of jaggery in summers can lead to nose bleeding

    It is advised not to eat too much of jaggery in summer as its hot potency can lead to nose bleeding.

    3. Increases risks of parasitic infections

    While the sugarcane juice is cleansed properly but if the jaggery still has impurities, it increases the risk of getting parasitic infections.

    4. Can aggravate inflammation

    A major part of jaggery is sucrose and therefore people who are prone to inflammation or swelling should either consume very less gur or not have it at all. Studies have shown that sucrose can interfere with omega-3 fatty acids and increase inflammation.

    5. Can cause constipation if consumed freshly-made

    If freshly-made jaggery is consumed, it can cause indigestion and hence constipation.

    5 Jaggery Recipes You Must Try

    1. Gur ka halwa

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    This halwa is perfect to satisfy your sweet tooth and can also soothe your cold and cough.

    Ingredients: 

    2 1/2 Tablespoon ghee

    1/2 Teaspoon cardamom powder

    1 cup semolina (soaked for 20 minutes)

    50 gms gur (soaked in 1 cup water)

    50 gms pistachio, sliced

    50 gms almonds, sliced

    4 Tablespoon shakkar/brown sugar

    A pinch of saffron

    How to make: 

    • Heat the ghee in a vessel and roast the soaked semolina till it turns brown. 
    • Add the jaggery water to the semolina along with other ingredients and keep stirring till the halwa reaches its desired consistency. 
    • Serve it hot.

    2. Coconut jaggery burfi

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    This three-ingredient barfi is delicious and is perfect to make on special occasions. 

    Ingredients:

    1 teaspoon ghee

    1 cup fresh coconut

    1/2 cup crumbled jaggery

    1 teaspoon cardamom powder

    How to make: 

    • Grease a plate with ghee and keep it aside. 
    • Cook the coconut and jaggery in a pan on medium flame and keep stirring. 
    • Add cardamom powder and mix it well. 
    • Keep stirring until the mixture starts coming together and leave the sides of the pan. 
    • Remove from flame and transfer the mixture to the greased plate. 
    • Level the surface and keep it to cool down. Cut into squares when it is a little warm. 
    • Garnish with nuts if you want and serve.

    3. Peanut chikki

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    We all love chikki as our winter snack, don’t we? It is a perfect snack to gorge on to keep your body warm. 

    Ingredients: 

    250 Gram Peanuts

    200 Grams jaggery

    25 Grams Butter

    How to make: 

    • Remove the skin of the peanuts. 
    • Roast the peanuts and coarsely crush them. 
    • Heat the gur in 1/2 cup of water until it becomes a little thick.
    • Keep boiling the syrup until it gets the hard crack consistency. You can check the consistency by putting a drop in cold water. The consistency is right if it cracks after you take it out. 
    • Add the crushed peanuts and mix properly. 
    • Grease a tray with butter and spread the mixture. 
    • Cut into squares when the mixture is cooled and store in an airtight container. 

    4. Gur ki roti

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    Another winter treat that you will not be able to resist is gur ki roti. If you haven’t tried it yet, you have got to do it now. 

    Ingredients: 

    Ghee for frying and 1 cup ghee to add while kneading the dough

    1.5 cups whole wheat flour

    1 cup milk

    3 cups grated gur 

    1/8 teaspoon baking soda

    Salt to taste

    How to make: 

    • Dissolve the gur in half of the milk on low heat and allow it to cool down. 
    • Mix the baking soda and salt to the flour. 
    • Rub the ghee into the flour. 
    • Knead the flour into a dough using the milk solution and add more milk if needed. 
    • Roll the flour into thick rounds like rotis (but slightly thicker), prick and cook on low heat using ghee.

    5. Wheat ladoo

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    Wheat ladoos made with jaggery is perfect for anyone with a sweet tooth who is trying to cut down on sugar. 

    Ingredients: 

    1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour

    200 grams jaggery

    120 ml water

    1 tablespoon ghee

    1 teaspoon cardamom powder 

    How to : 

    • Dry roast the wheat flour in a heavy-bottomed pan on low heat until it turns fragrant. Once the colour changes, keep it aside to cool down. 
    • Take the gur along with water in a pan and let the jaggery dissolve. Once it starts to boil, keep the heat on medium-high and continue to boil it. Do not make the syrup too thick. 
    • After the syrup gets its required consistency, add cardamom powder and mix. 
    • Once the syrup has cooled down, add the flour and mix it thoroughly with your hands. 
    • Do not knead but make sure that it is mixed properly. Add a little ghee too.
    • Take two tablespoons of the dough and shape it into a ladoo. Repeat the process and store the ladoos in an airtight container. 

    FAQs

    1. Is jaggery healthier than sugar?

    White sugar is basically refined sugar and it just adds calories to your body as it is a simple form of carbohydrates. Jaggery, on the other hand, is a form of complex carbohydrate and contains several nutrients which are beneficial to our body. So, if you compare, jaggery is definitely healthier than sugar.

    2. Can jaggery be consumed in winters and summers?

    Yes, but in moderation. It’s said that anything in excess can harm your body, and it applies to gur as well. Jaggery has hot potency and it generates heat within your body and keeps you comfortable during winters. But it can be consumed in the form of gur ka sharbat in summers as it has a cooling effect when mixed with cold water. 

    Other than that, it’s always best to know your body and have a realisation of how it’s going to react to what.

    3. Is jaggery good for diabetes?

    Even though jaggery has a lot of nutrients, but it is still sugar. Therefore, it will increase your blood sugar levels, though a bit slower than white sugar, but it will definitely increase it. So, it is advisable for diabetic patients to avoid any form of sugar in their diet, even jaggery.  

    So, what do we know and what have we learned?

    We know that jaggery is undoubtedly a healthier alternative to white sugar and we have learned that it is only meant to be consumed in moderation. It’s important to control the amount of jaggery you take in every day. It is advisable to consult your doctors before you include gur in your diet. 

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