A traditional uncentrifuged sugar, jaggery is considered an elixir in several cultures and has a huge consumption market in Asia and Africa. Jaggery is made from cane juice, palm sap, dates, products of sugarcane or date palm trees. While making the gooey mixture, separation of crystals and molasses is not done. A lump of jaggery is darkish-brown, brownish-black or brown in color. Jaggery is used in world cuisine, notably in several Asian delicacies.
Jaggery is used in several savory dishes from Sri Lanka, India and Pakistan. It is used as a sweetener in various herbal teas and herbal medicines. Jaggery providesa significant amount of minerals and vitamins required in a healthy diet. Small pieces of jaggery are used to add a tinge of unique sweetness and balance to traditional spicy gravy dishes. A traditional rice porridge called ‘Kheer’ is sweetened with generous amounts of jaggery. In many Asian countries jaggery is used to make sweet and tangy tamarind chutneys. Tamarind water with a piece of melted jaggery is had as a drink for digestion. You can have this drink chilled or hot. However, to experience the divine taste of jaggery, eat it plain. Some jaggery blocks have a gooey texture while others have a firmer texture. Jaggery is a popular ingredient with Ayurveda practitioners. Jaggery is made up of 20% invert sugars, 50% sucrose and 20% moisture. The remaining 10% comprises of insoluble matter that includes proteins, bagasse fibers and wood ash amongst others.
Health benefits of jaggery
1. Excellent alternative for sugar
You can get energy from different food sources. Sugar is used as a sweetener in several dishes. Sugar is known to give you a sudden boost of energy, this because they are simple carbohydrates that are quickly absorbed in the blood stream. However, research suggests that a sudden rise in sugar or energy levels can be potentially dangerous for internal organs, particularly individuals with diabetes. Jaggery is essentially a highly complex form of carbohydrate, unlike sugar. Jaggery is digested and absorbed slowly in the blood stream to release energy which is why a number of diabetics around the world consider it a safe substitute. Jaggery drinks are popular with diabetics globally.
2. Aids in digestion
Jaggery is one of the best ingredients for digestion. After a heavy meal nibble slowly on a small chunk of jaggery, it helps natural flow of digestive juices. What jaggery actually does is activate digestive enzymes that naturally enhance digestion. Jaggery is an excellent remedy for bloating experienced after meals. Chewing on a small piece of jaggery can provide relief from bloating immediately.
3. Rich source of nutrients
Jaggery is rich in minerals and vitamins. It offers significant amount of potassium. It also has Calcium, magnesium and selenium in moderate amounts, all of which are associated with various health benefits. Additionally, other nutrients present in jaggery include copper, chromium, zinc, riboflavin, niacin and thiamin.
4. Remedy for constipation
Jaggery has a high percentage of fiber which is required in our diet. Pieces of jaggery and herbs are mixed in plain water or tamarind water and given to persons suffering from constipation. Jaggery has a cooling effect on the body and aids natural bowel movement.
5. Home remedy for Anemia
Aside from nutrients such as copper, calcium, magnesium, and zinc, jaggery is also an excellent source of iron which is of essential importance in an anemic person’s diet. Jaggery is eaten to maintain healthy hemoglobin levels in blood.
6. A natural cleansing agent
Jaggery acts as a natural cleansing agent. Lemon drinks that contain jaggery are delicious. Lemon juice with jaggery can be had any time of day. This drink is thoroughly refreshing served chilled or steaming hot. Jaggery drinks help clear impurities that settle within internal organs. Jaggery and lemon juice is known to cleanse impurities in the food pipe, respiratory tract, stomach, intestines and lungs.
7. Excellent for migraine
If headaches and migraines are turning your world topsy turvy, it’s time you include jaggery in your diet. Most migraines are due to improper diet, lack of mineral and vitamins needed for nourishment. Jaggery is a complex sugar-form that is loaded with mineralsand nutrients that provide balanced nourishment. Individuals that use jaggery instead of sugar in cooking are less likely to suffer from headaches and migraines.
8. Provides relief from hiccups
Jaggery is a common home remedy for hiccups. A small piece of jaggery and dry ginger powder is mixed in warm water and sipped to stop hiccups.
9. Home treatment for dry cough and Asthma
Persons that have Asthma and suffer from frequent bouts of dry cough should include jaggery in their diet. Since anicient times jaggery has been used to cure cough and cold. A small block of jaggery is melted in tamarind water and a small piece of shredded ginger is added as the water comes to a boil. This drink is used as a traditional treatment for Asthma and dry cough.
10. Antioxidant properties that keep away harmful radicals
Jaggery has complex antioxidant properties that protect cells of the body from harmful free radicals. Antioxidants play an essential role in many life processes. Regular balanced jaggery consumption helps in natural blood purification and helps relax nerves and muscles. Including jaggery in your food also helps get rid of toxins thereby leading to proper liver function.
Benefits, uses, and facts about Jaggery
Sweetener and tastemaker
Jaggery is a natural sweetener. It is extensively used in Asian countries because of the rich taste and color it brings to cuisine. Several milk-n- cream based desserts from South East Asia contain generous amounts of jaggery that bring about a unique sweet taste.
Used as a crude binder for building structures
In several Asian cultures jaggery is used to construct small structures, more so, in villages where cement is not available. When jaggery is in the liquid stage of making, it is mixed with clay, sand and lime. This gooey mixture is used as a crude binder for bricks to build structures and small houses.
Mixed with Cattle Feed
To ensure cattle eat more, low quality jaggery is mixed with cattle-feed. This happens largely in villages in Asia. It is believed that cattle that eat cattle-feed mixed with jaggery yield high quality milk.
Used as a bait by hunters
In several Asian cultures, jaggery is used as a bait to lure wild animals. Gooey chunks of jaggery are mixed in a liquid made form intoxicating herbs. These gooey chunks are laid out in forests to catch small animals. On several occasions dazed bears have been found by villagers munching on these goodies. Also, in many Asian villages ant eggs and jaggery paste is mixed together to form a thick paste and used as bait to catch fish in lakes, ponds and streams.
Jaggery used in foods
Jaggery is used in several Asian delicacies. A variety of porridges from India, Middle East, Sri Lanka and Pakistan use jaggery for that unmistakable rich sweet flavor. ‘Gur ki Roti’ which means a flatbread made from jaggery is hugely popular in India and Pakistan. In South East Asian cuisine, several savory dishes and desserts contain generous amounts of jaggery. Sweet and sour Tamarind chutneys from Asia get the delicate sweetness because of jaggery. Traditional rice and lentil porridges served at ceremonies in India are made using black jaggery. In different parts of India and South East Asia, jaggery is used instead of sugar to make laddoo. Chikki is one of the most popular health snacks from India made from groundnuts.