Is Jaggery A Safe Sugar Substitute For Diabetics?

02 Dec 2019

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The light drizzle on delicious breakfast pancakes or an extra spoonful added in your evening cup of tea, sugar is an integral part of our daily meals. However, it is responsible for inflammation, low energy, bloating, and of course, diabetes. In fact, diabetics are usually looking for healthy alternatives to sugar, and the most common one that comes to mind is jaggery.

Jaggery is often considered to be a healthy substitute for sugar because of its known health benefits and is even recommended in Ayurveda. For diabetics, who cannot consume sugar-rich foods because of insulin resistance, jaggery may seem like a blessing, but it really is a bane!

Jaggery Vs Sugar Debate

To understand more about jaggery and its connection with diabetes, first, let’s understand how jaggery is made. Although jaggery and sugar are created from the same source – sugarcane, the process of creating is quite different, resulting in different nutritional values. Sugar undergoes a chemical crystallization process that results in a complete loss of all nutrients, while jaggery is made by simply boiling sugarcane juice concentrate. This process helps retain valuable and essential nutrients [1] in jaggery such as iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus. This high nutritional value is responsible for the health benefits of jaggery, making it a better choice than sugar, for most people. It offers bone, heart, and lung benefits when consumed in moderation and regularly.

The Jaggery & Diabetes Connection

Jaggery cannot be used as a substitute for sugar if you suffer from diabetes. The simple reason being, it has high sugar content. It contains 65 to 85 percent of sucrose [2] derived from sugarcane. The only difference is that jaggery has complex sugars that take time to be absorbed by the body. Hence, compared to sugar, jaggery will increase your glucose levels slower [3]. However, the issue of blood sugar rising still persists.

Additionally, jaggery is a food item with a high glycemic index [4]. When it comes to diabetes diets, you need to make food choices based on the glycemic index and not just nutritional value. Foods with a high glycemic load are linked to erratic blood sugar spikes, heart diseases, and obesity [5].

It is best if you can give up sugar, and as a result, curb your sugar cravings. However,  if you still want a bit of sweet after your lunch or want to have the perfect cup of sugary-sweet tea, then you can go for plant-based and organic substitutes that are safe for diabetics. Try stevia, xylitol, saccharin, and honey. Alternately, you can also try nutritional supplements that help manage diabetes in a healthy way. Opt for Setu Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA)  that contains one of the most powerful antioxidants uncovered by science, and helps reduce blood sugar levels as well as other diabetes-related conditions.

References:

  1. https://www.longdom.org/open-access/review-on-recent-advances-in-value-addition-of-jaggery-based-products-2157-7110-1000440.pdf

  2. https://www.ejpmr.com/admin/assets/article_issue/1456712434.pdf

  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6046027/

  4. https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/77d6/fb97a79b709b42ecb049bfc17c52d2adeb3c.pdf

  5. https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/76/1/290S/4824168

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