Benefits of Jaggery
The benefits of jaggery include its ability to cleanse your body, act as a digestive agent, sweeten your food in a healthy manner, provide good amounts of minerals. Before we go into the details of the benefits of jaggery, let me tell you that all good things do not come in nice, good looking packages. This is true for jaggery too.
Some of you might not find its look very interesting or nice at all (Well, I mean a very few of you, because others have already liked its nice colour and texture). The dark yellow colour and its amorphous and sometimes gooey look is more than enough to keep some of you away (But I know many who say that this colour and appearance is far more appealing and interesting than that monotonous, white, crystalline sugar.
After all, colours are all that life is about!). More so, if you are seeing it for the very first time (On the contrary, most of the children and even adults here find it very tempting and encouraging. Actually, opinions differ).
It often sticks to your hand and lips while eating and this is also a nuisance (We don’t feel these since we have been eating jaggery since our childhood and it is a mouth watering sight for us, because we know how it tastes). Further, if you hear about the way it is manufactured and stored and the standards of hygiene there, you will never think of eating it (This also does not bother us because we know that it is far-far better than those frozen meats and so called hygienically packed food items with a lot of chemical preservatives in them and stored for months and weeks. In fact, in some cases, the jaggery blocks may contain some particles of sand or ash that flies from the oven, but I don’t think they are anyway unhygienic. We eat lot more dust and pollutants everyday while we breathe in and talk.). Have any more doubts? No? Even if you had, you won’t have any after you have finished reading the following paragraphs about the benefits of jaggery. Here are they.
Sweetening Agent: There are plenty of natural and artificial sweetening agents available in the market, with our good old friend sugar at the top. But they are just plain sweeteners. How nice it would have been if such magnificent sweeteners could add some punch of taste too? The answer is in jaggery. The first benefit of jaggery is that it is rather a tastemaker and colour maker than being just a sweetener. You can experience the difference yourself. Taste plain sugar and jaggery one after another, and things will be clear to you. That was only the sugar cane jaggery. You will go crazy if you ever taste the Date Palm Jaggery or Palmyra Jaggery. They are no less than brown milk chocolate and white milk chocolate respectively.
Energy Food: We know that carbohydrates, consumed with our food, give us energy on oxidation. The simpler the carbohydrate, the sooner the energy released. On one hand, this simplicity comes as a blessing for athletes and people suffering from serious fatigue, because they need instantaneous energy. So sugar and glucose is for them, because they are very simple carbohydrates and are absorbed in the blood stream almost instantaneously and fills you with a sudden burst of energy. But then, on the other hand, researches show and doctors advise that this sudden rise in sugar or energy level can be a major threat for the internal organs, particularly in case of diabetics. In the long run, this may even give rise to diabetes, since this sugar may affect pancreas as well as pancreas may gradually lose its capacity to release a lot of insulin at once to counter this raised sugar level. This sudden uplift may cause severe damage to kidneys and eyes; can raise blood pressure and create many such related problems. The second benefit of jaggery is that it is a more complex form of carbohydrate than plain sugar. So, it is digested and absorbed gradually and releases energy gradually. This provides with warmth and energy for a longer period, without harming the internal organs.
Cleansing Agent: You may think that what the hell this jaggery has to do with any sort of cleansing. But let me tell you that it is well proven benefit of jaggery. Jaggery effectively cleans the respiratory tracts, lungs, food pipe, stomach and intestines. It pulls out dust and unwanted particles from the body. It also helps in giving relief from constipation, perhaps due to presence of fiber in it.
Digestive Agent: This may sound strange but it is true and it has sufficient scientific explanation behind this. In India, it is recommended to take a few grams of jaggery after a heavy meal of after eating meat. This facilitates digesting. What happens is that jaggery activates the digestive enzymes and itself changes to acetic acid in the stomach. This speeds up digestion.
Source of Minerals: Unlike sugar, jaggery is very rich in minerals, predominantly iron with traces of other mineral salts. While most of the iron in it comes through processing in iron vessels, the other minerals come right from the sugar cane juice, since this juice does not undergo refining or bleaching of any kind. So, jaggery is a very good source of minerals for the body.
Other Benefits: In some cases, jaggery is less likely to give you acidity when compared to sugar. There is no good explanation for this, but this is seen often. Even doctors suggest switching over to jaggery when somebody is having acidity due to sugar.
So, what are you thinking? No! It is not late yet. You can still switch on to jaggery from today. Just add it to your meal and feel the difference.
i. My own experiences with jaggery as I have seen making it since my childhood.
ii. Wikipedia Pages (For information regarding jaggery made in Myanmar).
iii. Text book followed in schools.
iv. Various reports on jaggery published in News Papers, Health Magazines and other media from time to time.