Jaggery cubes in hand with a bowl of jaggery, a blood sugar monitor, and other natural sweeteners in the background.

Is jaggery good for diabetes?

Jaggery, a traditional sweetener made from sugarcane or date palm sap, is often regarded as a healthier alternative to sugar due to its perceived natural properties. However, individuals with diabetes need to exercise caution when considering jaggery as a sugar substitute due to its high glycemic index. The glycemic index of jaggery is similar to that of sugar, which means it can cause a rapid spike in blood sugar levels when consumed.

Nutritional Profile of Jaggery

While jaggery can provide certain health benefits, its high sugar content raises concerns for individuals with diabetes. Consuming jaggery in moderation and as part of a balanced diet is key to managing blood sugar levels effectively. Consulting a healthcare provider or a nutritionist before adding jaggery to your diet can help determine the most suitable approach based on individual health needs.

Nutrient

Amount

Calories

383 kcal

Carbohydrates

97.3 g

- Sugars

97.3 g

Protein

0.4 g

Fat

0.1 g

Fiber

0.5 g

Calcium

85 mg

Iron

0.6 mg

Magnesium

70 mg

Phosphorus

20 mg

Potassium

105 mg

Sodium

30 mg

Zinc

0.4 mg

Copper

0.2 mg

Manganese

0.5 mg

 

 

Research Studies on Jaggery and Diabetes

  1. Glycemic Response: A study published in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition compared the glycemic responses of jaggery and sugar in healthy individuals. The study found that jaggery resulted in a lower glycemic response compared to sugar, suggesting that it may have a more moderate effect on blood sugar levels. However, further research is needed to confirm these findings and determine the specific mechanisms involved.

  2. Antioxidant Properties: Jaggery contains various antioxidants, including phenolic compounds and minerals such as zinc and selenium, which have been shown to have potential benefits for individuals with diabetes. Antioxidants help neutralize harmful free radicals in the body, reduce inflammation, and improve insulin sensitivity.

  3. Traditional Uses: In traditional medicine practices such as Ayurveda, jaggery is often recommended as a natural sweetener with potential health benefits, including improving digestion, boosting energy levels, and balancing doshas (body energies). While anecdotal evidence supports these claims, more scientific research is needed to validate the therapeutic effects of jaggery on diabetes and other health conditions.

  4. Fiber Content: Jaggery contains small amounts of dietary fiber, which can help slow down the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream and promote better blood sugar control. Including jaggery as part of a balanced diet rich in fiber-containing foods may have beneficial effects on glycemic control in individuals with diabetes.

  5. Clinical Trials: While there is limited clinical trial data specifically focused on the effects of jaggery on diabetes, some studies have investigated the broader impacts of natural sweeteners on glycemic control. These studies have shown mixed results, with some suggesting that moderate consumption of natural sweeteners like jaggery may have less of an impact on blood sugar levels compared to refined sugars.

Benefits and Risks of Consuming Jaggery for Diabetes

Benefits of Consuming Jaggery for Diabetes:

  1. Lower Glycemic Index (GI): Jaggery has a lower glycemic index compared to refined sugars. This means it raises blood sugar levels more slowly, resulting in a more gradual increase in glucose levels after consumption.

  2. Natural Sweetener: Jaggery is a natural sweetener made from the concentrated sap of sugarcane or palm trees. It contains minerals and antioxidants, unlike refined sugars, which are stripped of nutrients during processing.

  3. Antioxidant Properties: Jaggery contains antioxidants such as phenolic compounds and minerals like zinc and selenium, which have potential health benefits, including reducing inflammation and improving insulin sensitivity.

  4. Fiber Content: While relatively low, jaggery does contain some dietary fiber, which can help slow down the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream and promote better blood sugar control.

  5. Traditional Medicine Use: In traditional medicine systems like Ayurveda, jaggery is often recommended for its potential health benefits, including improving digestion, boosting energy levels, and supporting overall well-being.

Risks of Consuming Jaggery for Diabetes:

  1. High Sugar Content: Jaggery is still a concentrated source of sugar, primarily sucrose, glucose, and fructose. Consuming too much jaggery can lead to a rapid increase in blood sugar levels, especially in individuals with diabetes or impaired glucose tolerance.

  2. Caloric Density: Jaggery is relatively high in calories, containing about 383 kcal per 100 grams. Consuming large amounts of jaggery can contribute to weight gain and may exacerbate obesity-related complications in individuals with diabetes.

  3. Impact on Blood Sugar: While jaggery has a lower GI compared to refined sugars, it can still raise blood sugar levels, especially if consumed in excess or without consideration for portion sizes.

  4. Lack of Standardization: The composition of jaggery can vary widely depending on factors such as the source of the raw material, processing methods, and storage conditions. This lack of standardization makes it challenging to determine its precise impact on blood sugar levels.

  5. Dental Health: Like other sweeteners, frequent consumption of jaggery can contribute to dental cavities and tooth decay, particularly if proper oral hygiene practices are not maintained.

Bottom Line

Based on the research and expert advice available, people with diabetes often wonder if jaggery is good for them. While jaggery is touted for its health benefits, its effect on blood sugar levels is a concern for those with diabetes. Some studies suggest that jaggery might raise blood sugar more slowly than regular sugar, making it a better choice for people with diabetes. However, it's important to eat jaggery in moderation and check your blood sugar levels regularly to see how it affects you.

Black jaggery is packed with minerals that might offer extra health perks because of its rich nutrient content. On the other hand, palm jaggery has a unique flavor and contains antioxidants, making it a good natural sweetener. In short, while jaggery can be part of a healthy diet for people with diabetes, it's wise to talk to your healthcare provider, think about your health goals, and monitor how your body reacts to jaggery to decide if it's right for you.

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