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Jaggery: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects By Dr. Smita Barode 

By Dr Smita Barode +2 more

Introduction: 

Jaggery has been used extensively over the years for its countless benefits. Due to the wide use of jaggery in Ayurveda, it is also called “medicinal sugar”. It is prepared by processing or boiling sugarcane juice, obtained from the sugarcane plant “Saccharum officinarum”. Jaggery is also known as gud, vellam, Bella or bellam. In an Indian diet, it is consumed either directly or used to prepare several sweet-based foods. Jaggery is used to prepare several traditional sweet dishes like karadantu, godhi huggi, chikki, gazak, payasam, etc.1 This nutritious unrefined sugar offers several benefits. Daily consumption of jaggery may help in asthma, cold, cough and anaemia and act as a natural cleansing agent. Let’s find out more about this sweet superfood. 

jaggery benefits

Did you know?

  • Consuming jaggery in moderation may help improve digestion and prevent digestive disorders like constipation. source: ncbi
  • Regular consumption of jaggery can help boost immunity due to its high content of antioxidants and minerals. source: ncbi
  • Jaggery contains natural phytochemicals that have anti-inflammatory properties, which may help reduce inflammation in the body. source: ncbi
  • Jaggery is a good source of energy and can provide a quick boost of energy, making it a popular choice among athletes. source: ncbi

Nutritional Value of jaggery: 

Jaggery contains various nutritional components that are given in the table below. They are rich in a variety of compounds including vitamins, minerals, proteins and antioxidants like selenium, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, etc. 

Nutritional components Value per 100g 
Energy 383 Kcal 
Sucrose 65-85 g 
Protein 0.4 g 
Fats 0.1 g 
Vitamin C 7.0 mg 
Vitamin E 111.3 mg 
Vitamin A 3.8 mg 
Vitamin B5 0.01 mg 
Vitamin B6 0.01 mg 
Vitamin B2 0.06 mg 
Vitamin B1 0.01 mg 
Potassium 10-56 mg 
Phosphorus  20-90 mg 
Calcium 40-100 mg 
Magnesium 70-90 mg 
Sodium 19-30 mg 
Copper 0.1-0.9 mg 
Iron 10-13 mg 
Zinc 0.2-0.4 mg 

Table 1: Nutritional value of Jaggery2 

Properties of jaggery: 

Scientific literatures have found jaggery to show numerous properties as those mentioned below: 

  • It may act an anti-toxic agent. 
  • It might have anti-neoplastic properties. 
  • It may have antioxidant properties. 
  • It may have a decongestant effect.3 

Let me give you a healthy tip! Replace your regular white sugar with jaggery. Studies have shown that jaggery may benefit from the addition of value-added natural spices and herbs such as nutmeg, ginger oil, Triphala, cardamom, mint, turmeric, black pepper, and other spices since it enhances flavour as well as health benefits. This gives society’s consumers more motivation for replacing or reducing their consumption of white sugar.

Dr. Siddharth Gupta, B.A.M.S, M.D (Ayu)

Potential Uses of jaggery for Overall Health: 

Some of the potential benefits of jaggery are described as follows: 

1. Potential uses of Jaggery for hepatorenal injury 

Jaggery may have detoxification properties, and daily consumption of jaggery may help remove toxins from the body and keep the liver toxin-free and healthy. Sharma et al. conducted a study in 2013 to assess the effect of jaggery on hepatorenal injury caused by carbon tetrachloride. The intervention was carried out in rats, which received an aqueous extract of jaggery at a dose of 250, 500 and 750mg/kg body weight. Treatment with jaggery showed a reversal in the tissue specimens that were observed under the microscope. This indicates that jaggery may help reduce hepatic and renal damage. However, this study was conducted on animals, and more human studies are needed to support these claims.4,5 

2. Potential uses of jaggery for asthma and allergies 

Asthma is characterised by narrowing and inflammation of the airways, making breathing difficult. Jaggery is a rich source of iron, which improves the level of haemoglobin in the blood. An increase in haemoglobin levels increases the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood, which in turn helps improve breathing and provide symptomatic relief in asthma. The anti-allergic effect is due to the presence of selenium, which helps in removing foreign substances from the body. This indicates that the consumption of jaggery may help manage asthma and allergies. However, more studies are needed to confirm these claims in humans.6 

3. Potential uses of jaggery for smoke-induced lung lesions 

Smoking or exposure to dust in industries can cause scarring of the lung tissue. Jaggery may help translocation or clearance of these particles from the lungs (from the alveoli to the tracheobronchial nodes). Sahu et al. conducted a study in 1994 to assess the effect of the consumption of jaggery on the translocation of particles from the lungs. The study was conducted on dust-exposed rats who were administered 0.5g of jaggery each for 90 days. This study showed the preventive action of jaggery on smoke-induced lung lesions. This may indicate that jaggery may help in managing smoke-induced lung lesions. However, human studies are required to ascertain these claims.6,7 

4. Potential uses of jaggery for anaemia 

Anaemia is defined as a reduction of haemoglobin in the blood, iron-deficiency being the commonest cause. Jaggery is a good source of iron and may help correct such anaemia. Additionally, its pitta-balancing properties can also improve symptoms of anaemia. This indicates that consumption of jaggery may help in correcting anaemia. However, no human studies have been conducted so far to support these claims.4 

5. Potential uses of jaggery for heart 

Jaggery is a good source of potassium, which may help regulate heart function and blood pressure. Additionally, the potassium content in jaggery may help reduce the risk of cardiac diseases. The presence of magnesium may help in protecting the blood vessels. Therefore, there is a possibility that the consumption of jaggery may positively impact the heart, but we need more human studies to support these claims.6 

6. Other potential uses of jaggery

  • Presence of magnesium in jaggery may help reduce stress and relax muscles. 
  • Presence of calcium in jaggery may help in improving bone health. 
  • It may purify blood and help in managing diseases like jaundice. 
  • The presence of zinc and other minerals in jaggery may help in boosting immunity. 
  • When consumed in moderate amount, jaggery may help manage constipation, stomach pain and improve digestion. 
  • It may help in regulating the menstrual cycle due to the release of endorphins.4,6 

Though there are studies that show the benefits of jaggery in various conditions, these are insufficient and there is a need for further studies to establish the true extent of the benefits of jaggery on human health.  

How to Use jaggery? 

Jaggery can be used in the following ways: 

  • It gives a sweet taste to curries like sambhar or gujarati curries. 
  • Several traditional sweet dishes like chikki, laddus, etc. are made using jaggery. So, it is widely used as a sweetener in the food industry as a replacement for white sugar. 
  • “Puranpoli”, a famous Maharashtrian dish is incomplete without jaggery.4 

You must consult a qualified doctor before taking any herbal supplements. Do not discontinue or replace an ongoing treatment of modern medicine with an ayurvedic/herbal preparation without consulting a qualified doctor.   

I highly recommend the consumption of Jaggery. Jaggery has helped people maintain a stable body temperature and a cool stomach. Studies suggest one may consume some jaggery as a detox after a meal since it may aid in liver cleansing by eliminating harmful toxins from the body. Jaggery might also help women manage symptoms of PMS including fluctuating emotions, cramps, and discomfort in the stomach.

Dr. Rajeev Singh, BAMS

Also Read: Balancing Your Diet: High Potassium Foods to Avoid for Healthy Living

Side Effects of jaggery: 

A few side effects related to the consumption of jaggery include: 

  • The sugar content of jaggery is equal to that of white sugar. Thus, excessive consumption should be avoided in diabetic patients. 
  • For people who are sugar sensitive, consumption of jaggery may cause allergies. 
  • Excessive jaggery consumption can also cause an increase in body weight. 
  • Excessive consumption can cause difficulty in bowel movements, freshly made jaggery can cause indigestion.4,8 

However, if you experience any adverse reactions to jaggery, immediately contact a doctor or your Ayurvedic physician who has prescribed it to you. They will be able to guide you appropriately for your symptoms. 

Precautions to take with jaggery: 

Eating jaggery is alright if it is taken in moderate amounts. However, general precautions must be followed while consuming jaggery. 

  • Consuming moderate quantities of jaggery in diabetes is okay, but diabetics should avoid overeating jaggery as its sugar content is comparable to white sugar.  
  • It is advised to avoid jaggery consumption if you are intolerant to sugar, because this may trigger an allergic reaction. 
  • Eating in excess can cause stomach pain and indigestion.4,8 

Interactions with Other Drugs: 

There is limited data regarding interaction of jaggery with drugs. However, you must always seek the advice of your Ayurvedic physician about the possible interaction of jaggery with other drugs, and follow the prescription thoroughly, as they will know your health condition and other medications you are taking.8  

Frequently Asked Questions: 

1) What are the side effects of jaggery? 

An excessive consumption of jaggery can result in stomach pain. Freshly made jaggery can result in indigestion and allergy in individuals who are intolerant to sugar.2 

2) Does regular consumption of jaggery help in regulating menstrual cycle? 

Yes, consumption of jaggery may help in regulating menstrual cycle, but there are not many studies to support this claim. Kindly, consult your doctor for proper treatment.2 

3) Can consumption of jaggery help in managing iron-deficiency anaemia?  

Yes, consumption of jaggery may help improve iron-deficiency anaemia due to its high iron content and pitta-balancing properties. However, not enough studies have been conducted to support these claims. So, it is advised to consult a doctor for a proper treatment.4 

4) Is it safe to consume jaggery in diabetes? 

Jaggery has sugar content which is nearly equal to white sugar. Consumption in moderate quantities is safe. However, you must consult your doctor for a proper advice. 

5) Is it safe to consume jaggery when taking medicines? 

Although, no significant interactions are reported with the consumption of jaggery with medicines. However, it is recommended to consult a doctor for assessing possible drug interactions. So, it is advised to consult a doctor for a proper advice. 

References: 

  1. Lamdande AG, Khabeer ST, Kulathooran R, Dasappa I. Effect of replacement of sugar with jaggery on pasting properties of wheat flour, physico-sensory and storage characteristics of muffins. J Food Sci Technol. 2018 Aug;55(8):3144-3153. doi: 10.1007/s13197-018-3242-7. Epub 2018 Jun 1. PMID: 30065425; PMCID: PMC6046027. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6046027/ 
  1. Parth Hirpara et al. Jaggery: A natural sweetener. Journal of Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry 2020; 9(5): 3145-3148. Available at: https://www.phytojournal.com/archives/2020/vol9issue5/PartAR/9-5-516-642.pdf 
  1. Jahan, Afifa. (2019). Jaggery: A traditional, Nutritional and medicinal sweetner. 32. 20. Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/342465207_Jaggery_A_traditional_Nutritional_and_medicinal_sweetner 
  1. Parmar, R. (2022) Everything you need to know about jaggery, PharmEasy Blog. Available at: https://pharmeasy.in/blog/everything-you-need-to-know-about-jaggery/ (Accessed: November 17, 2022).  
  1. Sharma CK, Saxena M, Sharma V. Jaggery protects hepatorenal injury induced by acute exposure to carbon tetrachloride in Wistar rats. J Environ Pathol Toxicol Oncol. 2013.doi: 10.1615/jenvironpatholtoxicoloncol.2013006793. PMID: 23758147. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23758147/ 
  1. Rao GP, Singh P. Value Addition and Fortification in Non-Centrifugal Sugar (Jaggery): A Potential Source of Functional and Nutraceutical Foods. Sugar Tech. 2022;24(2):387-396. doi: 10.1007/s12355-021-01020-3. Epub 2021 Jul 27. PMID: 34334974; PMCID: PMC8314846. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8314846/ 
  1. Sahu AP, Saxena AK. Enhanced translocation of particles from lungs by jaggery. Environ Health Perspect. 1994 Oct;102 Suppl 5(Suppl 5):211-4. doi: 10.1289/ehp.94102s5211. PMID: 7882934; PMCID: PMC1567304. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1567304/ 
  1. Barkha (2022) Jaggery (gur) benefits, nutrition value, Facts & Side effects, Wellcurve Blog. Available at: https://www.wellcurve.in/blog/jaggery-benefits-and-nutritional-facts/ (Accessed: November 17, 2022).  

Disclaimer: The information provided here is for educational/awareness purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional and should not be relied upon to diagnose or treat any medical condition. The reader should consult a registered medical practitioner to determine the appropriateness of the information and before consuming any medication. PharmEasy does not provide any guarantee or warranty (express or implied) regarding the accuracy, adequacy, completeness, legality, reliability or usefulness of the information; and disclaims any liability arising thereof.

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