Jaggery has been a favorite of South American Indians, Chinese, Thai and others for centuries. In some countries, it is an important part of their diet. It was introduced to the world by Sir Richard Branson, who introduced it to Jamaica in the 19th century. It contains potassium, manganese, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, silicon, iron, potassium, sodium, nitrogen, tannic acid, carotene, color and a little bit of Vitamin C. Jaggery is still being harvested in many parts of Africa, India and the Philippines. It is mainly used as a sweetener, although people also enjoy the taste of it.
Jaggery is a natural non-centrifuge sugar obtained in East Africa, India and the Southern Part of South-East Asia. It’s a distilled product of coconut juice and most often, fresh or dried fruit pulp without separation of the pulpy crystalline crystals and coloring, and may vary in color from golden brown to pale brown. The process of making jaggery may differ among countries, but generally, it’s made by treating the coconut flesh with high temperatures until it melts and then it is treated further with various chemicals, salts and different mixtures. During the process, the liquid honey separates into several products like jaggery, condensed milk, polished rice and even sebum, which is the oil secreted by the sebaceous glands.
The debate on whether to use sugar versus jaggery as a sweetener continues to rage among health authorities around the globe but the reality is that both these sweeteners have their place in our nutrition. If you are looking for sugar alternatives to help reduce your daily sugar intake and increase your daily fibre intake, then sugar (aspartame) may be a better choice than jaggery. If you are looking for a healthier alternative to sugar, try sugarless jaggery and remember that having more fibrous food in your diet may help prevent diabetes.