Jaggery is a solid/semi-solid form of sugar obtained by the concentration of sugarcane juice in an open pan. This means that both sugar and jaggery are obtained from the same source, which is sugarcane. India is the second-largest producer of sugarcane after Brazil and as you know jaggery is important in the Indian diet, which is consumed either directly or used in the preparation of various sweet-based foods. One most common question in all our minds “Is Jaggery good for diabetes?”. Though jaggery is rich in important minerals like calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorous, sodium, iron, manganese, and vitamin B, is jaggery good for diabetes?
Firstly, let’s look into the benefits of jaggery over sugar!
Health Benefits of Jaggery
- Jaggery contains good amounts of phenols and phytochemicals which possess good antioxidant and cholesterol lowering properties.
- Jaggery has good anti-inflammatory properties used in traditional medicine for treating joint pains.
- Jaggery is a good source of magnesium and acts as a muscle relaxant, makes the nervous system more robust and helps bust fatigue.
- Jaggery is loaded with other minerals like zinc and selenium, which help prevent free-radicals (responsible for early ageing). It helps boost resistance against infections, hence building stronger immunity.
- Jaggery helps in maintaining proper acid levels in the body controlling the blood pressure.
- Jaggery helps in reducing the formation of blood clots – used in the treatment for acute thrombosis.
Though Jaggery possesses a number of health benefits, is jaggery good for diabetes?
Jaggery for diabetes
- Can people with Diabetes eat jaggery : Like any other sugar product, glycemic index of jaggery is very high, which means it can rapidly elevate the blood sugar levels, because nearly all of the carbs in jaggery are sugars. This can be highly risky for people with diabetes, making it unsuitable for consumption.
- Is Jaggery good for pre–diabetes: If you’re prediabetic, jaggery can be consumed in minimal quantities, as jaggery can provide you with other health benefits too. But keep in mind, do not over indulge in jaggery regardless of your health status. Like I always say moderation is the key 😉
- Does Jaggery spike insulin: Though jaggery is a good alternative for non-diabetics, it is generally not recommended for people with diabetes as it can spike up your blood sugar levels, and can spike up the insulin levels. Keep in mind for diabetics any food that spikes up the insulin levels is bad.
5 Healthier alternatives for Diabetes
- Stevia – Stevia is a low-calorie sweetener approved by the FDA, and possesses antioxidant and anti-diabetic properties. Acceptable daily intake of stevia as per WHO – 4 mg/ kg body weight. If a person weighs 75 kg – the recommended limit is 300 mg/d . Research has shown that stevia sweeteners do not contribute calories or carbohydrates to the diet. Research shows that stevia triggered significant reduction in blood sugar levels and glucagon response after a meal. Helps in weight management. Stevia could potentially lower blood pressure
- Tagatose: is a low-calorie sugar substitute, an isomer of fructose, the fructose which is naturally present in fruits are generally 90% sweeter than sucrose. Research shows that tagatose reduces total cholesterol, VLDL, LDL cholesterol as compared with sucrose and contributes to increased levels of HDL. Possesses anti- diabetic effect and can be associated with the benefits for the treatment of obesity. Glycemic load of tagatose is low making it suitable for diabetes
- Dates: Dates are fleshy sweet fruits of the palm tree. Dried Dates have a low GI, which means they’re less likely to spike your blood sugar levels, making them a safe choice for people with diabetes. Moreover, fresh dates have a medium Glycemic Load, which means that 1 or 2 fruits at a time are a good choice. Aim to eat no more than 1 or 2 dates at a time. Eating them alongside a source of protein, such as a handful of nuts, also allows its carbs to be digested a bit more slowly, further helping prevent blood sugar spikes.
- Sugar alcohol: Like erythritol, it is found naturally in plants with very few calories or sugar. Keep in mind, that what makes sugar alcohols work for diabetics is that they aren’t fully digested by the body. Therefore, if you have a sensitive stomach this may not be for you, as sugar alcohols may cause gas, cramps, or diarrhea. It has less impact on blood sugar levels. Insulin may not be needed at all, or only in small amounts, to metabolize sugar alcohol.
- Yacon syrup: Yacon is a root vegetable similar to a sweet potato, but jam-packed with even more nutrients. Even better for people with diabetes, they can be made into a syrup that contains fructo oligosaccharides, a kind of starch that doesn’t get digested (and hence doesn’t raise blood sugar levels). The yacon root is hypoglycemic in nature and may reduce insulin resistance and serum insulin.
Now that we have a whole lot of information about jaggery for diabetes let’s hear it from you “is jaggery good for diabetes”? Well, I am assuming your answer is NO, and you’re absolutely right. Jaggery or Gur, they are not really for diabetics but if you have a sweet tooth. There are other healthier options, which are low in calories that do not raise your blood sugar levels, yet taste sweet. But do not go overboard with that too as it can lead to other potential health issues.
I must say jaggery is a healthier replacement for sugar among non-diabetics, but be mindful of what you eat.
So, if anyone is confused with this question, is jaggery good for diabetes? You can help them out without hesitation.
Have a Wonderful day 😊
Written by Aishwarya, ENHAPP Wellness Coach and Nutritionist.