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.
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.
Jaggery is usually made from concentrated sugarcane juice, but other than that there are four other kinds of jaggery.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Jaggery is loaded with antioxidants, which boost resistance against infections. Not only this, but it also helps in increasing haemoglobin in the body.
When consumed regularly and in moderate quantities, gur cleanses the blood and therefore contributes to a healthier body.
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.
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.
Jaggery contains potassium and sodium, which play an important role in maintaining blood pressure.
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.
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.
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.
Jaggery is rich in folate and iron that ensure maintaining a normal amount of red blood cells in your body and thus prevents anemia.
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.
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.
A small piece of jaggery eaten regularly helps detoxify your liver by flushing out all the harmful toxins from the body.
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.
Well, if consumed in moderation, jaggery can actually help you shed some extra kilos.
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.
Gur is a very delicious way to have flawless skin.
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.
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.
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.
It is advised not to eat too much of jaggery in summer as its hot potency can lead to nose bleeding.
While the sugarcane juice is cleansed properly but if the jaggery still has impurities, it increases the risk of getting parasitic infections.
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.
If freshly-made jaggery is consumed, it can cause indigestion and hence constipation.
This halwa is perfect to satisfy your sweet tooth and can also soothe your cold and cough.
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:
This three-ingredient barfi is delicious and is perfect to make on special occasions.
1 teaspoon ghee
1 cup fresh coconut
1/2 cup crumbled jaggery
1 teaspoon cardamom powder
How to make:
We all love chikki as our winter snack, don’t we? It is a perfect snack to gorge on to keep your body warm.
250 Gram Peanuts
200 Grams jaggery
25 Grams Butter
How to make:
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.
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:
Wheat ladoos made with jaggery is perfect for anyone with a sweet tooth who is trying to cut down on sugar.
1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
200 grams jaggery
120 ml water
1 tablespoon ghee
1 teaspoon cardamom powder
How to :
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.
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.
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.
Featured Image: Instagram/Pinterest