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Demystifying Jaggery

Jaggery is a type of unrefined sugar, prepared from sugarcane or date juice. The juice is concentrated by heating and molasses is not removed while concentrating it. The end product is brownish yellow-colored solid blocks, often also available in semisolid form. Its often known as Guda, Gud, Gula, Gulam in Ayurveda.

Unlike sugar, Jaggery preserves the trace minerals from sugar cane or date which makes it a healthier alternative for sugar. Adding herbs and spices to jaggery has been an Indian tradition resulting from centuries of Ayurvedic practices. There are two primary kinds of Jaggery, refined and unrefined. Ayurvedic text Ashtanga Hrudayam Sutrasthana explains that regular consumption of washed and cleaned jaggery decreases Kapha (Earth and Fire) dosha and serves as a diuretic while unrefined jaggery balances vata (Space and Air) and pitta (Fire and Water) doshas serving as a natural blood purifier, boosting strength and works as an aphrodisiac. Dhauta guda or washed jaggery flushes out toxins and balances pitta doshas.

Jaggery is an amazing source of iron with a whopping amount of 11 mg for every 100 grams and meets 61% of daily recommended intake. It is also a rich source of magnesium, potassium, manganese with negligible amounts of fat. Here are some of the many health benefits of Jaggery:
Manages Diabetes – Jaggery unlike sugar do not trigger sudden spikes in sugar levels and is also loaded with iron, magnesium and potassium.
Serves as a Coolant while treating cough – It serves as an amazing natural coolant in hot weather while in winter it aids in combating various respiratory ailments. A piece of jaggery with little ginger helps in expelling mucus and clears airways.
Boosts Digestion – Pure quality jaggery flushes out toxins, promotes digestive flora and supports small intestine in better absorption of nutrients.
Helps Manage Anemia – Poor hemoglobin levels can cause severe fatigue, irregular heartbeats, shortness of breath, dizziness and if not treated on time, it would lead to other complications. Jaggery is an excellent source of plant-based iron and it boosts hemoglobin levels naturally.

While you can eat a piece of Jaggery by itself there are various ways you can incorporate in your meals and recipes. Jaggery powder can be a great substitute for sugar in dessert recipes. It can be consumed by very simply mixing crushed jaggery in hot water as part of your morning routine. As you begin incorporating this superfood in your diet, remember as with anything, moderation is key!

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