Description : Jaggery (गुड़ / Gud)
Jaggery (गुड़ / Gud) is a traditional unrefined non-centrifugal sugar consumed in Asia. It is a concentrated product of sugar cane juice, wherein the molasses and crystals are not separated. It can vary in colour from golden brown to dark brown in colour. It contains up to 50% sucrose, up to 20% invert sugars, moisture content of up to 20%, and the remainder is made up of other insoluble matter such as ash, proteins and bagasse fibers. Jaggery (गुड़ / Gud) is also sometimes made from the sap of the date palm. This is costlier and also available only locally in districts where it is made. The sago palm and coconut palm are also now tapped for producing Jaggery (गुड़ / Gud) in southern India and Sri Lanka. Jaggery (गुड़ / Gud) is a kind of unrefined sugar. Raw, concentrated sugarcane juice is boiled until it becomes solid and can be formed into blocks. It has the slight bitterness of molasses and the richness of caramel.
What is jaggery?
There are four other kinds not made from sugar cane but they are unusual. One, Nolen Gur (found in Bengal – 'nolen' means new and 'gur' is the word for Jaggery (गुड़ / Gud)), is made from date palm sap; and a second type is made from coconut sap. In Sri Lanka they make a kind of liquid Jaggery (गुड़ / Gud), or treacle, from the sap of the kithul (aka Jaggery (गुड़ / Gud) palm) tree. In Myanmar they make Jaggery (गुड़ / Gud) out of the sap of the local toddy palm.
Where jaggery is most commonly found
It is used commonly throughout India, Afghanistan, Iran and south-west Asia (in Hindi it's known as Gur).
Potential health benefits
All kinds of health benefits are claimed for Jaggery (गुड़ / Gud), from curing constipation to reducing blood pressure and everything in between; certainly, it contains useful vitamins and minerals not present in refined sugar. In Ayurvedic medicine it's used to treat respiratory conditions. If eaten during the winter months, when the sugarcane is harvested, and it is fresh it's claimed that eating it provides a boost to the immune system. Jaggery (गुड़ / Gud) can be preserved into the summer but it needs to be frozen. However, there are probably other things which are more efficient at that (see my hot toddy post), so the important question about Jaggery (गुड़ / Gud) is really how to use it to best advantage in cooking.
The darker the better
The first important thing to note is that the darker it is the richer and deeper the flavour.
Benefits and Uses of Jaggery
Jaggery (गुड़ / Gud) activates the digestive enzymes in the body, stimulates bowel movements and thus helps prevent and relieve constipation. Constipation is a condition in which there is difficulty in emptying the bowels, usually associated with hardened faces, also acts as a diuretic that can help stimulate bowel movement. A small piece of Jaggery (गुड़ / Gud) after lunch could kick-start digestion, which is key to good overall health.
Jaggery (गुड़ / Gud) is a natural body cleanser, further reducing the workload of the liver. Jaggery (गुड़ / Gud) helps cleanse the liver by flushing out harmful toxins from the body, which further helps detoxify the liver. So, if you want to effectively detox your body, bite into a piece of Jaggery (गुड़ / Gud).
Fight symptoms of a cold and cough with the help of gur. All you need to do is mix it with warm water and drink up, or even add it in your tea instead of sugar to reap the benefits. Jaggery (गुड़ / Gud) produces heat in the body, which is why generally people consume it in winters. The warming effect in Jaggery (गुड़ / Gud) makes it an amazing sweet that can treat cold and flu.
One of the most well-known benefits of Jaggery (गुड़ / Gud) is its ability to purify the blood. When consumed on a regular basis and in limited quantities, it cleanses the blood, leaving your body healthy. Clean blood will mean a healthier body and will ensure that it is free from any disease.
Jaggery (गुड़ / Gud) is loaded with antioxidants and minerals such as zinc and selenium, which in turn help prevent free-radical damage and also boost resistance against infections. Jaggery (गुड़ / Gud) also helps increase the total count of haemoglobin in the blood.
Jaggery (गुड़ / Gud) is one of the best natural cleansing agents for the body, hence it is advised to eat Jaggery (गुड़ / Gud) to remove unwanted particles from the body. It efficiently cleans the respiratory tract, lungs, intestines, stomach and food pipe. Eating Jaggery (गुड़ / Gud) is highly recommended for people working in heavily polluted areas such as factories or coal mines.
Jaggery (गुड़ / Gud), due to its richness in many essential nutrients, is an effective natural treatment for menstrual problems, especially providing relief from cramps. In case you experience sudden mood swings just before your period, you should eat a small piece of Jaggery (गुड़ / Gud) daily to combat symptoms of PMS since it leads the release of endorphins. These endorphins relax your body, thereby preventing premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
Jaggery (गुड़ / Gud) is rich in iron and folate which help prevent anaemia by ensuring that a normal level of red blood cells is maintained. This is especially beneficial for pregnant women. It ensures that a normal level of red blood cells is maintained. Moreover, it provides instant energy to the body.
Jaggery (गुड़ / Gud) also boosts intestinal strength due to its high magnesium content. With every 10 gram of Jaggery (गुड़ / Gud), you get 16 mg of magnesium, which is 4 percent of the daily requirement of this mineral.
Jaggery (गुड़ / Gud) helps in maintaining normal body temperature which helps in keeping your stomach cool. Experts recommend drinking Gur Sharbat (Jaggery (गुड़ / Gud) soaked in ice cold water) during the summer months to cool off.
Jaggery (गुड़ / Gud) contains potassium and sodium, which play an important role in the maintenance of acid levels in the body. It makes sure that a normal level of blood pressure is properly maintained.
By consuming Jaggery (गुड़ / Gud) regularly, you can prevent many respiratory problems such as asthma, bronchitis, etc. Experts recommend eating this natural sweetener with sesame seeds for wonderful benefits for the respiratory system.
"Jaggery (गुड़ / Gud) is surprisingly effective as an aid for weight loss. This is because Jaggery (गुड़ / Gud) is a rich source of potassium, which is a mineral that helps in the balance of electrolytes as well as building muscles and boosting metabolism. Potassium also helps in the reduction of water retention, which helps in managing your weight", says Delhi-based Nutritionist Anshul Jaibharat. These factors play an important role in effective weight loss, so if you're looking to lose some unwanted pounds, include this food in your diet.
While sugar is a simple carbohydrate that gets absorbed in the bloodstream instantly and gives instant energy, Jaggery (गुड़ / Gud) is a complex carbohydrate that gives energy to the body gradually and for a longer time. This means that the levels of blood sugar do not get raised immediately. It also helps prevent fatigue and weakness of the body.