Rajan is a botany and chemistry major. He has an interest in health, healthy foods, nutrition and home remedies.
Palm Jaggery is called Taad ka Gud in India.
About Palm Jaggery
According to Indian scientist, food specialist and the innovator of Jungle Farming, Dr Khadar Vali, sweeteners like refined sugar, mishri or rock sugar and sugarcane jaggery should be avoided as they are high in glucose content. Artificial sweeteners as well should not be consumed as they are harmful to health.
Since the olden days, jaggery has been prepared from the sap of trees of the palm family, like Palmyra palm, Date palm and Fishtail palm in India. Coconut palm also provides palm jaggery. Of these four palm trees, jaggery from the first three palm trees are considered the best and should be used. Palm jaggery has more of fructose in it than glucose.
Glucose is burnt by oxygen to produce energy, not fructose. Sugar consumption causes an almost instantaneous rise in blood sugar as it is rapidly absorbed. Fructose consumption does not raise blood sugar as quickly or as high since fructose has to be converted into glucose to be used as energy. This takes time as it has to go to the liver to get metabolised and converted into glucose by undergoing a series of biochemical processes. So although the blood has fructose in it, the fructose does not affect the body like an increase in glucose does.
Moreover, only 40-50% of the fructose absorbed is converted into glucose while the rest is simply excreted. Palm jaggery consumption, therefore, does not lead to a sugar shock which is associated when other sweeteners are consumed. This is the reason why fructose is better than glucose and also why palm jaggery is better than any other sweetener.
In sugarcane jaggery, sucrose is the major form of sugar along with some fructose. It is, therefore, not much better than table sugar.
Sugarcane Jaggery vs Palm Jaggery
Sugarcane jaggery has more glucose in it then fructose. Its consumption leads to more glucose in the blood leading to a spike in the blood sugar level. Not only is this sugar food for cancer cells, but it also lowers immunity and the pathogenic bacteria get their energy from sugar. Therefore if the blood is not flooded with sugar or glucose it will be healthier. Although sugar instantly gives a feel-good feeling it is harmful in the long run.
Glucose is actually the end-product of digestion. If sugar is eaten you are directly taking in the end product thus blocking all the biochemical processes which would have been performed to get glucose. The disturbance in the biochemical processes leads to disturbed digestion.
Therefore it is better to have a sweetener which is not only natural but also does not flood the blood with glucose. Here is where palm jaggery comes in.
Palm Jaggery is:
- A natural sweetener
- Chemical and preservative-free
- A low glycemic index food
How is Palm Jaggery Made?
During the season of inflorescence, an incision is made near the kernels on the palm trees. The palm sap is collected in clay pots before sunrise. This palm sap is very time-sensitive and gets fermented within a few hours of collection. Therefore, it is boiled as soon as it is collected to make jaggery.
Jaggery prepared with sap held for some period of time goes bad as the atmospheric moisture affects the sap and causes even the jaggery prepared to go bad. Therefore, palm jaggery as well as its syrup have to be refrigerated. These also have to be stored in glass or stainless steel containers.
Although palm jaggery and palm sugar are terms frequently used interchangeably, it must be understood that they are very different ingredients. Palm sugar and palm jaggery are as similar to one another as sugar is to jaggery, meaning, palm sugar is refined while palm jaggery is unrefined.
All About Palm Jaggery | The Best Alternative to Sugar
Health Benefits of Palm Jaggery
Of all the sweeteners, palm jaggery is the healthiest as it has the lowest glycemic index as well the most fructose in it. Here are some health benefits it provides:
- Boosts body immunity as it is rich in antioxidants and micronutrients like iron, magnesium, manganese etc. With its unique capacity to strengthen the bone marrow in a few weeks in young children, it helps to boost immunity their immunity as well.
- Provides nutrition to the body since all its natural nutrients are retained in it as no chemicals are used in its preparation.
- Has a cooling effect on the body since it is alkaline in nature. It provides a lot of energy.
- Cleanses several body systems like the gastrointestinal, respiratory and digestive systems.
- Flushes out toxins from the body.
- Relieves constipation.
- Protects against seasonal infections as well as many everyday health conditions like cough, colds, etc.
- Relieves headache as well as migraine.
- Reduces obesity as it helps to reduce fat and hence weight.
- Increases haemoglobin levels of the blood.
The How and Why of Palm Jaggery Syrup
Palm jaggery has some impurities in it like sand, grass, etc in it which need to be removed before it is used making palm syrup is a necessity. A couple of side benefits that accrue when palm syrup is made beforehand and stored:
- Saves time needed to prepare palm syrup when using in dishes
- Makes the palm jaggery aroma sweet and taste more palatable
To make palm jaggery syrup the jaggery is pounded then put in a steel pot and allowed to sit for some time to let it get soft. This jaggery and water mixture is then heated and stirred until the jaggery dissolves completely. The liquid jaggery is strained to remove the impurities and then reheated to a syrupy consistency. It is then cooled completely then transferred to a glass or steel container and stored in the refrigerator.
Palm jaggery syrup keeps good for about 2 months in the fridge but should be used as soon as possible preferably within a month of its preparation to avoid any chance of it going bad.
The video below shows the process of making palm jaggery syrup at home.
How to Make Palm Jaggery Syrup
More Palm Jaggery Facts
1. Because it mainly contains fructose it does not cause blood glucose spikes in non-diabetics when it is consumed.
2. Palm trees grow naturally and need no special irrigation facilities nor denuding forests and therefore do not harm the environment when palm jaggery is produced. Its production and consumption are thus eco-friendly.
3. Palm jaggery production is a cottage industry. Consuming palm jaggery not only makes the villages self-reliant but also provides employment to the villagers.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2021 Rajan Singh Jolly