General Health

Jaggery Vs Refined Sugar: Which Is The Healthier Sweetener?

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By Apollo 24|7, Published on- 22 May 2023, Updated on - 16 June 2023

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Jaggery and refined sugar are two common sweeteners used in households across the globe. However, there has been a growing concern about the harmful effects of refined sugar on our health. This led many people to switch to healthier alternatives such as jaggery. But, is jaggery really a better option than refined sugar? In this article, we will explore the differences between the two and provide an answer to this question.

What is Jaggery? 

Jaggery, also known as "gur" in Hindi, is a traditional non-centrifugal cane sugar consumed in many countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. It is made by boiling sugarcane juice until it solidifies and then shaping it into blocks or cones. Jaggery comes in different varieties and colours, ranging from light brown to dark brown, depending on the processing method.

The Benefits of Jaggery over Refined Sugar

1. Nutritional Value

Jaggery is packed with essential vitamins and minerals absent in refined sugar. It contains iron, magnesium, and potassium, which are important for maintaining healthy blood pressure, promoting healthy digestion, and preventing anaemia. Jaggery also has a low glycemic index, which releases sugar slowly into the bloodstream, preventing sudden spikes in blood sugar levels.

2. Better Digestibility

Jaggery is easier to digest than refined sugar because it involves no chemical processing. Refined sugar undergoes multiple processing stages, which strips away the natural fibre and nutrients, making it harder to digest. On the other hand, jaggery retains its natural fibre, aiding digestion.

3. Natural Sweetener

Jaggery is a natural sweetener, whereas refined sugar is highly processed. Jaggery is free from chemicals, additives, or preservatives, making it a healthier alternative to refined sugar. It is also a better option for those who prefer to consume natural foods.

4. Rich in Antioxidants

Jaggery is a good source of antioxidants, which help protect the body against oxidative stress and damage caused by free radicals. Antioxidants play a crucial role in maintaining overall health and reducing the risk of chronic diseases.

5. Boosts Immunity

Jaggery contains certain minerals and vitamins known to strengthen the immune system. These include zinc, selenium, and vitamins like vitamin C and vitamin B-complex. A robust immune system helps the body fight infections and illnesses more effectively, especially during the winter season.

6. Respiratory Health

Jaggery is often used in traditional remedies to alleviate respiratory problems such as asthma, bronchitis, and cough. It is believed to help cleanse the respiratory tract and relieve congestion.

7. Blood Purification

Jaggery is known for its blood-purifying properties. It helps remove toxins from the blood, improve blood circulation, and maintain healthy liver function. Regular consumption of jaggery may contribute to the overall detoxification of the body.

The Drawbacks of Jaggery

1. High-calorie Content

Jaggery is high in calories, just like refined sugar. Therefore, it is not recommended for those on a low-calorie diet. Notably, 1 gram of jaggery contains four calories, similar to refined sugar's calorie content.

2. High Glycemic Index

Although jaggery has a lower glycemic index than refined sugar, it is still high in glucose and fructose, which can raise blood sugar levels. Therefore, it is not recommended for people with diabetes or those with insulin resistance.

3. Short Shelf Life

Unlike refined sugar, jaggery has a shorter shelf life and can quickly spoil if not stored properly. Exposure to moisture or high temperatures can cause it to ferment and develop mould. Therefore, storing jaggery in an airtight container in a cool, dry place is important.

In a nutshell, jaggery is a healthier alternative to refined sugar due to its nutritional value, natural sweetness, and better digestibility. It is an excellent source of essential vitamins and minerals that are beneficial for maintaining a healthy body. However, it is not suitable for those on a low-calorie diet or for people with diabetes or insulin resistance due to its high calorie and sugar content. Therefore, it is essential to consume jaggery in moderation and as part of a balanced diet.

You must remember, excessive consumption of any sweetener, including jaggery, can lead to health issues such as weight gain and diabetes. It is always best to consult a healthcare professional or a registered dietitian for personalised advice on your dietary needs.

Talk To Apollo’s Expert Dieticians


Medically reviewed by Dr Sonia Bhatt


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