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What is Better? Sugar or Jaggery?

Team Elda
October 19, 2023

Is jaggery better than sugar? Do they have the same amount of calories and have the same effect on health? Here's some information that can help you understand the differences between the two:

Source and Processing: Sugar is derived from sugarcane or sugar beets. It undergoes extensive processing, including refining and bleaching, to produce the final granulated form. On the other hand, jaggery is made from sugarcane juice or palm sap and is typically less processed. It is solidified without removing the molasses content, giving it a brown color and a distinct flavor.

Nutritional Content: Both sugar and jaggery are primarily composed of sucrose, a simple carbohydrate. However, jaggery retains more of the natural nutrients found in sugarcane, such as iron, calcium, and some vitamins, due to minimal processing. Therefore, jaggery may offer slightly higher nutritional value compared to refined sugar, but the difference is not significant.

Glycemic Index: The glycemic index (GI) measures how quickly a food raises blood sugar levels. Jaggery generally has a lower glycemic index compared to refined sugar. This means that jaggery causes a slower and more gradual rise in blood sugar levels, which can be beneficial for individuals with diabetes or those aiming to manage their blood sugar levels.

Taste and Flavor: Sugar has a neutral sweet taste, while jaggery has a richer, caramel-like flavor with hints of molasses. The choice between the two depends on personal preference and the desired taste in different culinary applications.

Culinary Uses: Sugar and jaggery can be used interchangeably in various recipes, although they may impart slightly different flavors. Jaggery is commonly used in traditional desserts, like laddoos, and halwas and also in certain savory dishes. Sugar, especially refined white sugar, is traditionally used in desserts like gulab jamuns, jalebis and also in baking sweet dishes like cakes and pastries. 

Overall Intake: Both sugar and jaggery should be consumed in moderation as excessive intake of added sugars can contribute to health issues such as obesity, tooth decay, and chronic diseases. It is recommended to limit overall sugar intake and opt for natural sweeteners like fruits whenever possible.

But in case it is difficult to control the sweet tooth, jaggery seems to be the lesser processed option than refined sugar.

Ultimately, the choice between sugar and jaggery depends on personal preference, cultural context, and dietary requirements. Moderation and considering the overall composition of your diet are key to maintaining a balanced and healthy lifestyle.

Sugar vs Jaggery: Which is the Healthier Choice?