Jaggery is one of the most common ingredients found in Indian kitchens. Apart from being one of the best natural sweeteners, it also offers a plethora of health benefits. It is good for your cardiac health, digestion, improved metabolism, blood circulation, respiratory system, menstrual cramp or pains, sexual potency and stronger immunity. About 70-80% of the world’s Jaggery production takes place in India, where it is commonly called gur/gud. It is primarily made from Sugarcane but nowadays it can be made from coconut sap and date palm as well.
How is Jaggery Made?
Jaggery is made by first extracting juice from Sugarcane. The canes or palms are pressed to extract the sweet juice or sap. The juice is then allowed to stand in big containers so that any sediment settles to the bottom. It is then strained to produce a clear liquid.
The juice is then concentrated by placing in a very large, flat-bottomed pan and boiled. During this process, the Jaggery is stirred and the impurities are skimmed off the top until only a yellow, dough-like paste remains. This paste is then transferred to containers where it cools into Jaggery blocks.
Jaggery vs Refined Sugar
Jaggery contains more nutrients than refined sugar because of its molasses content. Molasses is a nutritious by-product of the sugar making process, which is usually removed when making refined sugar. Molasses adds plenty of micro-nutrients to the final product. Hence, it is more nutritious as compared to white refined sugar!
10 Benefits of Eating Jaggery
- Prevents and Treats Common Cold: Consumption of Jaggery helps fight symptoms of a cold and cough. Mixing a small piece of it in warm water or tea can help greatly.
- Immunity Booster: Loaded with antioxidants and minerals like zinc and selenium, which helps curb free-radicals responsible for inflammation, Jaggery helps boost resistance against infections, hence building stronger immunity.
- Detoxifies the Liver & Other Organs: It plays a major role in detoxifying internal organs such as liver, stomach, intestines, kidneys, etc. by flushing out harmful toxins from the body. Certain compounds present in Jaggery activate the digestive enzymes in our body, which help us digest food properly and also help reduce indigestion/bloating.
- Combats Menstrual Pain and PMS: It is helpful in providing relief from cramps. In case you experience mood swings, irritation before your period, you should eat a small piece as it increases the levels of hemoglobin, maintains the hydration levels in our body in heavy-flow during periods and helps in releasing more Endorphins during periods (this helps relax our body). During periods, consume a solution of a glass of lukewarm water and Jaggery. It will help you tackle period cramps for the day.
- Body Pain & Aches: Do you suffer from aches and pains in your joints? Eating Jaggery can provide you with immense relief. Add some grated ginger in boiling water and strain. Add a small piece of Jaggery and drink this regularly to reduce joint pain. You can even drink it with a glass of milk everyday to help strengthen the bones. This can help prevent joint and bone problems such as Arthritis.
- Prevents Constipation: It activates the digestive enzymes in the body, stimulates bowel movements and helps prevent as well as relieve constipation. A cup of warm water with organic Jaggery and half a lemon’s juice is one of the best home remedy to cure constipation.
- Prevents Anaemia: Rich in iron and folate, it helps prevent anaemia by ensuring that a normal level of red blood cells is maintained. It also helps in increasing haemoglobin content of blood. This is especially beneficial for pregnant women.
- Acts as a Cooling Agent: Eating a small piece of it everyday helps in maintaining normal body temperature, which helps in keeping your stomach cool. Experts recommend drinking GurSharbat (soaked in ice cold water) during the summer months to cool off.
- Prevents Respiratory Problems: By consuming Jaggery regularly, you can prevent many respiratory problems such as asthma, bronchitis, etc. Eating it with sesame seeds is beneficial for the respiratory system and preventing allergies related to it.
- Regulates Blood Pressure: Jaggery contains potassium and sodium, which play an important role in the maintenance of pH levels in the body. It ensures that a normal level of blood pressure is properly maintained.
Quick Til Ladoo/Bars Recipe
You will need:
- 1 Cup White Sesame Seeds
- 1 Cup Jaggery
- 1 tbsp ghee
- ¼ tsp Cardamom Powder
- Nuts of your choice
- Roast sesame seeds on medium heat till light brown
- Heat ghee in pan and add Jaggery
- Simmer on slow flame till it melts
- Put off flame and add the roasted til (and crushed nuts) and mix well
- Grease your palms with ghee and make small balls or set in a plate and cut bars out of it
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