Diabetic patients are often advised to switch to jaggery as a sugar substitute, but is this really healthy?
According to Mahesh Jayaraman, co-founder, Sepalika.com – a healthcare platform for natural reversal of chronic diseases, “For diabetic, anything that spikes insulin is bad, including jaggery. So jaggery is only relatively better for a diabetic than white sugar. However, organic, unprocessed jaggery does not evoke the same extent of response in the human body as white sugar does. It also contains some essential minerals such as iron and manganese.”
Despite the health benefits, Jayaraman suggests switching to organic, unrefined honey instead of jaggery.
Here’s why jaggery is not an ideal choice for people with diabetes.
Both sugar and jaggery are derived from the same source – sugarcane. This means both sugar and jaggery have high glycemic index. Diabetic patients need to be mindful about the glycemic index of various foods before including them in their diet.
Dr Dhaval Shah, co-founder, Pharmeasy, an organisation that works closely with diabetics says, “Jaggery has a high glycemic index. Jaggery is a form of sugar that gets absorbed rapidly and can spike blood sugar levels. Many diabetic patients are under the misconception that jaggery is a safe replacement for sugar, however that’s not true. It is a good replacement for sugar among non-diabetics.”
If you’re not suffering from diabetes, you can safely include jaggery in your meals. It is best to use organic, unprocessed variant. Apart from adding taste, jaggery helps build immunity. Indian food traditions are rich with references of use of jaggery. For instance, during winters jaggery is mixed with ghee and consumed to keep the body warm. Jaggery also helps purify blood and detoxes the liver.
Women can benefit by including jaggery in their meal as it helps relieve menstrual pain. Due to its high iron content, it also helps combat symptoms of PMS.