Jaggery or popularly known as Gur in India is what our parents and grandparents would associate with. Sugar and jaggery are the two most commonly used sweeteners across the country. Although, both are obtained from the same sources, they have huge differences in terms of their properties and benefits. Both of them are produced by using sugarcane juice, but are treated and processed differently. They have different flavours and textures but can be substituted for each other in desserts and drinks. Given this, there is always a sugar versus jaggery war going on that often tends to confuse us. Let’s explore the differences between sugar and jaggery to understand which one is healthier and better for you.
Sugar Versus Jaggery: What’s the Difference?
- Sugar and jaggery are processed differently, hence they have their own distinct colours and textures. Sugar is typically in the form of white, translucent crystals while jaggery can range from golden brown and dark brown in colour, depending on the extent to which it is cooked.
- The texture of sugar is hard, crystallized and solid, while jaggery is semi-solid, softer and amorphous in nature.
- Both of them are made from sugarcane juice but are processed differently. After the initial boiling, in case of sugar, the syrup is treated with charcoal to absorb unwanted particles and to give it a clear and transparent look. Once the solution is condensed and crystalized, it results in sugar. While on the other hand, there is no treatment for jaggery except that the sugarcane syrup is boiled for several hours to produce a thick paste which is then placed in a mould to get a firm shape.
- Since sugar goes to a rigorous industrial process while being prepared it loses all its nutritional value along the way and what you get in the end is plain sucrose. On the other hand, jaggery manages to retain traces of iron, fiber and various mineral salts.
The texture of sugar is hard, crystallized and solid, while jaggery is semi-solid
According to Nutritionist and Macrobiotic Health Coach, Shilpa Arora, "Jaggery is exceptional for treating breathing disorders. Its anti-allergic properties detox and relax the respiratory muscles. It is also great for curing constipation and clears the body of toxins and any excess mucus. Constipation is the main cause for breathing disorders such as asthma. Jaggery also boosts your digestion. A small piece taken after your meals is considered to be very good." On the other hand, sugar has been touted as a source of ‘empty calories’ with no nutritional value. It is responsible for inducing sudden blood sugar spikes which does not help your body and instead leads to weight gain and other ailments.
Sugar Versus Jaggery: Which One is Healthier?
Jaggery is often used as a treatment for various ailments as it is believed to be an excellent immunity booster. The various antioxidants in jaggery can build your immunity system and further keep diseases at bay. So, when it comes to sugar versus jaggery, jaggery is definitely a healthier option. But remember that adding both sugar and jaggery in your diet is equivalent to adding excessive calories in the day.
No matter how healthy or nutritious jaggery may be, the more you consume it, the more calories you add to your body. Excess of anything is bad; hence, consuming both sugar and jaggery in small quantities is the key.
Talk about sweeteners and crystal-like refined sugar comes to mind. But another variety of sweetener –