Looking for a free app to track

calories?

arrowGet the Hint app

Is Jaggery Good For Diabetes?

January 9, 2023
11 min read
Is Jaggery Good For Diabetes?

TLDR

  • Jaggery is a type of unrefined sugar made from sugar cane or palm trees.
  • Jaggery contains some vitamins and minerals, making it comparatively a better option than white sugar. 
  • However, it is still a type of sugar, and consuming too much of it can be harmful to one's health.

Jaggery is quite popular among Indians. It is often used to sweeten tea and various Indian sweet dishes. 

But unfortunately, there is a popular misconception that jaggery is a sweet alternative to white sugar for diabetes patients. 

So let's find out what the nutrition data says and check if there is any scientific evidence to support the opinion that diabetic individuals can include jaggery in their diet without any concerns.

Jaggery Calories

Jaggery also referred to as 'gur' contains 80% or more sucrose. It contains 348 kcal per 100 grams of serving. It has 84 grams of carbohydrates, 84 grams of sugar, and 1.8 grams of protein. 

Jaggery is a good source of minerals such as 

MineralsAmount
Calcium (mg)107
Magnesium (mg)115
Potassium (mg)488
Sodium (mg)25
Iron (mg)4.6
Manganese (mg)0.6
Zinc (mg)0.6
Copper (mg)0.2
Vitamin D (mcg)0.4
Vitamin B6 (mg)0.6
Vitamin B7 (mg)0.6
Vitamin B9 (mcg)14

However, keep in mind that 100 g is a lot larger quantity than you would typically eat at once. You would probably consume closer to a tablespoon (15 grams) or teaspoon (5 grams), which may give only a tiny quantity of these nutrients.

Types of Jaggery

Jaggery is available in the market mainly in three forms: Solid jaggery, Liquid jaggery, and Granular jaggery or powder jaggery. Jaggery is made from the sap of either sugarcane or palms (date palm, toddy palm) or coconut plants. The different types of jaggery are

1. Sugarcane jaggery

Prepared by boiling sugar cane juice.

2. Palm jaggery or Black jaggery

Prepared from the extract of palm trees (date palm, toddy palm).

3. Coconut jaggery

Unfermented coconut sap is used to make coconut jaggery.

The nutrition profile of jaggery can vary, depending on the type of plant used to make it.

Jaggery Sugar Content

100 grams of jaggery contains 84 grams of sugar. Jaggery contains few nutrients as it is mostly composed of molasses, but the majority of it is made up of sugar. 

Glycemic Index Of Jaggery

Jaggery has a very high glycemic index of 84. Foods high in glycemic index, or GI, are quickly digested and absorbed and cause a rapid rise in blood sugar.

Jaggery Powder Benefits

Jaggery powder has a better shelf life and is easy to use when compared to a block of jaggery.3

Jaggery powder may not seem healthy at first glance because of its high calorific content. However, as listed below, it has many health benefits when consumed in moderation.

  • Aids in digestion
  • Boosts immunity
  • Helps in the prevention of anemia
  • Beats oxidative stress
  • Decreases sugar cravings
  • Regulates blood pressure
  • Boosts energy, purifies the blood
  • It cleans the stomach, intestines, lungs, esophagus, and respiratory tract
  • Helps prevent asthma, cough & cold, and congestion in the chest.1,2

Jaggery Side Effects

Jaggery use in excess can result in 

  • Elevated blood sugar levels or diabetes
  • Weight gain
  • Allergies including nausea, headaches, and stomachaches
  • Jaggery that has been made in unhygienic conditions can also cause intestinal infections.
  • May cause constipation.

Comparison of Jaggery, Sugar, Brown Sugar, and Honey.

The following are the nutritional profiles for 100 g of jaggery, granulated white sugar, brown sugar, and honey, according to the Indian Food Composition Tables (IFCT) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Nutritional valueJaggerySugarBrown sugarHoney
Energy (kcal)348400393331
Carbohydrates (gm)841009882
Sugar (gm)841009882
Protein (gm)1.800.20.3
Fat (gm)0.2000
Sodium (mg)251284
Iron (mg)4.600.80.4
Calcium (mg)1071836
Potassium (mg)488213352
Magnesium (mg)115092
Glycemic index84656458
Health BenefitsYesNoNoYes

As seen in the above table, jaggery has more micronutrients compared to sugar, brown sugar, and honey. 

Jaggery may have a better nutrition profile because of its molasses content, but it’s still almost similar and high in calories. Remember these values are for 100 grams and it's not possible to consume whole 100 grams to benefit from these nutrients.

Sugar (White or Brown) is considered as ‘Empty Calories’ - food with no or limited nutrition values and hence it has no significant health benefits. 

Whereas honey has a lower GI compared to others. It still raises blood sugars quickly, but not as fast as sugar and jaggery. 

Let's compare them individually

Sugar vs Jaggery

Both jaggery and sugar are derived from the same source, sugarcane. 

Jaggery is the unrefined sugar i.e the molasses is not separated to prepare jaggery. 

On the other hand, refined white sugar undergoes more processing steps due to which it is deprived of vitamins and minerals. 

Calories, carbohydrates, and sugar content per tablespoon of sugar are higher compared to jaggery. And it lacks protein. Use the hint app to track your calories.

As seen in the graph above, calories, carbohydrates, and sugar content per tablespoon of sugar are higher compared to jaggery. And it lacks protein.

Brown Sugar vs Jaggery

Jaggery is considered a better choice as compared to brown sugar as it contains slightly lesser calories, and also has little more vitamins and minerals compared to brown sugar. Use the hint app to track your calories.

Difference between jaggery and brown sugar is the same as jaggery and sugar.

Brown sugar is no different than refined white sugar and just as harmful as refined products.

Jaggery is considered a better choice as compared to brown sugar and white sugar because, it contains slightly lesser calories, and also has little more vitamins and minerals compared to brown sugar.

The calories, carbohydrates, and sugar are almost the same in both jaggery and honey. Use the hint app to track your calories.

Jaggery vs Honey

Many medical professionals suggest switching to unrefined honey rather than jaggery. But if you look at the nutrition data, it should not make any difference. 

The calories, carbohydrates, and sugar are almost the same in both jaggery and honey.

Treat jaggery and honey in the same way as table sugar and other refined carbohydrates. 

Both honey and jaggery raise blood sugar levels, especially when a person uses honey in addition to, rather than instead of another form of sugar. 

Now that we have seen the comparison in the nutrient profile of jaggery with various types of sweeteners let's find out how it affects your health.

Can Diabetics Eat Jaggery?

No. Sucrose, the type of sugar found in table sugar, is also present in jaggery. When sucrose is digested, it splits into two sugars: glucose and fructose. Typically, these final compounds cause blood sugar levels to rise significantly more rapidly. Jaggery is therefore not recommended as a superfood or as a sugar substitute for diabetic individuals.

Is it good to replace sugar with jaggery over a long time?

The only good thing you will get is extra nutrients as jaggery contains more nutrients than refined sugar which is devoid of any vitamins or minerals.

It is safe to say that swapping sugar with jaggery is a healthier option as long as you don't overdo it, or get addicted and you are not diabetic.

Jaggery tea

For example, have a look at the image below for a comparison of the nutritive value of milk tea prepared using sugar and jaggery respectively. 

Calorie content in both teas is almost similar. Clearly showing that the addition of jaggery doesn't make the tea less in calories or healthy to a great extent. Use the hint app to track your calories.

You can observe slightly less sugar content in jaggery tea than in milk tea with sugar. However, the calorie content in both teas is almost similar. 

Clearly showing that the addition of jaggery doesn't make the tea less in calories or healthy to a great extent. 

Though jaggery has a few more minerals and vitamins, the quantity of it used in preparing the tea is quite low and thus doesn't provide any significant additional nutrients.

Generally, changing only one ingredient in your diet is not going to show any significant benefits in managing your blood sugar levels. 

As diabetic patients, you need to be aware of the glycemic index of various foods before including them in your diet.

If you need help managing your blood sugar levels, download the Hint app and subscribe to the diabetic diet plan

You can get a personalized diabetic diet plan instantly within minutes. 

It is an Indian diabetic diet plan with high fiber, low glycemic index foods, and healthy fats. Follow it for at least three months for significant improvement in your HbA1c and fasting blood glucose.

Is jaggery good for weight loss?

No. Sugar in all its forms including jaggery, palm jaggery, or any kind of jaggery or even white sugar, brown sugar lacks fiber and contains high amounts of simple carbohydrates. You should avoid jaggery if you would like to see healthy weight loss.

Does jaggery increase weight?

Yes. Adding large quantities of jaggery or eating extra jaggery without thinking, increases your caloric intake, which in turn leads to weight gain. Limit the consumption of simple carbohydrates if you are trying to lose weight.

How Much Jaggery To Eat Everyday?

Consuming more than 15 g of jaggery per day can result in weight gain or blood sugar spikes because it is entirely composed of carbohydrates like sucrose, glucose, and fructose.

Conclusion

So in summary, jaggery and honey are better than sugar, but technically they are "sugars" themselves. Hence, should be used very sparingly or avoided by individuals who are diabetic, overweight, and obese. 

Moreover, you should try to consume nutrients from the foods you eat rather than relying on preferred sweeteners as a source of nutrients.

For more information, download the HINT app and track your calories consumed from various types of sweeteners.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

1. Is Black Jaggery Good For Diabetes?

No. Black jaggery contains the same type of sugar that is present in table sugar i.e; Sucrose which usually tends to increase blood sugar levels very rapidly. Hence it is not advisable to have any form of jaggery if you have diabetes.

2. Is Palm Jaggery Good For Diabetes?

No. Sugar in all its forms including palm jaggery, date jaggery, or any kind of jaggery is better avoided if you are diabetic.

3. Is Date Palm Jaggery Good For Diabetes?

No. Sugar in all its forms including palm jaggery, date jaggery, or any kind of jaggery is better avoided if you are diabetic.

4. Is Jaggery Good For Gestational Diabetes?

No. A low glycemic index diet is recommended for managing gestational diabetes. Therefore, eating jaggery is not an option for pregnant women with gestational diabetes as the glycemic index of jaggery is very high.

5. Is jaggery good for PCOS?

No. Jaggery is not a sugar replacement or a healthier option for PCOS, as it has a high glycemic index, contains high amounts of sugar and carbohydrates, and can further worsen the condition.

REFERENCES:

  1. Jahan, Afifa. (2019); Jaggery: A traditional, Nutritional and medicinal sweetener. 32. 20. 
  2. Hirpara, Parth & Thakare, Nitin & Kele, Vijay & Patel, Dhruvin. (2020). Jaggery: A natural sweetener. Journal of Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry. 9. 3145-3148.
  3. Verma, P., Shah, N. G., & Mahajani, S. M. (2019). Why jaggery powder is more stable than solid jaggery blocks. LWT, 110, 299-306. 

Looking for a free app to track calories?

Download the Hint app

google play iconapple store icon
Share this
promo banner

Looking for a free app

to track calories?

Get the Hint app
promo banner