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Is Jaggery Good for Diabetes? Glycemic Index and Nutritional Value
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Is Jaggery Good for Diabetes? Glycemic Index and Nutritional Value

HR_author_photo_Edibel
Written by Edibel Quintero, RD | Medically reviewed by Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD check
Published on November 12, 2022
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4 min

Jaggery is often touted as a healthier alternative to sugar because it contains more nutrients, but is it good for diabetes? We’ve taken a closer look at this sugar alternative to answer that question in this article.

Is jaggery good for diabetes
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Diabetes patients need to reduce their sugar consumption to avoid blood sugar spikes. For people with diabetes, a blood sugar spike can be dangerous, as the body does not produce enough insulin to cope with the spike.

Many people with diabetes turn to alternatives to feed their sugar cravings. One of these alternatives is jaggery. Many believe that those with diabetes can consume jaggery with few consequences, but is this true?

In this article, we’ll find out whether jaggery is good for diabetes and has any other health benefits. Take a look to find out more.

Is Jaggery Good for Diabetes?

The short answer is no – jaggery is not good for diabetes. Though it is considered a healthy alternative to refined sugar, it still impacts blood sugar levels. While jaggery has more nutrients than refined white sugar, it is still essentially sugar. What’s more, jaggery has an even higher glycemic index than regular table sugar, so it will cause a huge spike in your blood glucose.

The body cannot break simple sugars down any more than they already are, meaning they are absorbed quickly by the body. Foods high in simple sugars tend to have a higher glycemic index, as the sugars are absorbed rapidly, spiking blood sugar. The only exceptions are foods also high in fiber, which slows the absorption of simple sugars into the bloodstream.

Jaggery is made of three simple sugars: glucose, fructose, and sucrose, meaning it is absorbed easily into the bloodstream.

Those with diabetes must regulate their blood sugar levels and keep them within a healthy range; therefore, jaggery is not a good choice for them. 

What Is Jaggery?

Jaggery is an unrefined sugar product commonly found in Asia and Africa. There are two main kinds of jaggery: sugarcane jaggery and jaggery made from date palm sap. The origin plant will affect the sugar composition in the jaggery produced.

It is made by evaporating the water from palm sap or raw sugarcane juice and sold in blocks. It is graded depending on its color, and in India, lighter jaggery is referred to as “good quality” jaggery.

It has a higher molasses content than refined sugar, which means it is more nutritious  than regular sugar. Jaggery contains minerals, including iron, magnesium, potassium, and manganese. Similarly to other alternative sweeteners, like honey, substituting jaggery doesn’t have any real benefit for a diabetes diet.

Jaggery is often used in food to add flavor and sweetness; however, people with diabetes may find it more beneficial to use stevia or monk fruit to avoid a spike in blood sugar.

Jaggery Nutritional Value per 100g

Jaggery has a similar nutritional composition to white and brown sugar but more nutrients, unlike refined sugar, which is so popular worldwide. 

These nutrients offer some health benefits when you consume jaggery, but there isn’t a tremendous difference to your health due to the small amount of jaggery you would normally consume.

The nutritional value of jaggery per 100g is as follows.

Net CarbsTotal CarbsFatsProtein
100g100g0g0g
CaloriesFiberSugarsGlycemic Index
3750g100g85

Jaggery Glycemic Index

The glycemic index of jaggery is 85. This is a high glycemic index, which makes it unsuitable for those with diabetes.

The GI of glucose is 100, and the GI of white sugar is 65, meaning that jaggery actually has a higher GI value than refined sugar. For this reason, it is not recommended that diabetes patients replace white sugar with jaggery.

Instead, you could replace sugar and jaggery with a diabetes-friendly sweetener like monk fruit, which will not cause a spike and will keep blood sugar levels stable.

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Benefits of Jaggery

When you consume jaggery, you actually get some health benefits, even if it spikes your blood sugar levels. Healthier alternatives to white sugar offer more nutrients, which is why many people choose them over traditional sweeteners and table sugar. However, we still do not recommend using jaggery for those with diabetes.

#1 Gut health

There is some evidence that jaggery can help support better digestive health. In India, it is common to eat jaggery after a meal to stimulate bowel movements and prevent constipation. However, since jaggery contains no fiber – a macronutrient that is key to good digestive health – there is no actual evidence of this benefit.

#2 Iron content

Organic jaggery contains around 11mg of iron per 100g. This is equal to 61% of your RDI of iron. While this sounds great for anemia prevention, it is unlikely that you would actually eat 100g of jaggery (and if you did, it would have an enormous impact on your blood glucose levels).

One teaspoon of jaggery contains about 4% of your RDI of iron, which could help people with low iron levels. However, it is not a substantial amount, nor is jaggery a replacement for iron supplementation or eating iron-rich foods.

Natural Sweeteners and Diabetes

There are many kinds of sweeteners on the market these days, which can be confusing for people living with diabetes or insulin resistance. While artificial sweeteners can have a negative impact on diabetes, as well as weight management, natural sweeteners could hold the key to sweetness on a diabetes diet.

Stevia is a relatively new natural sweetener. It is much sweeter than sugar but is thought to be a safe alternative for people with diabetes. Indeed, research shows that stevia has no impact on blood sugar levels.

Monk fruit may also be a suitable alternative to sugar for people with blood sugar problems, though research is limited on the exact impact it has on a low glycemic index diet.

A Word From Our MD

People with diabetes need to keep their blood glucose levels stable. To do this, it is often recommended that they follow a diabetes-friendly diet consisting of fewer refined carbohydrates.

Consuming jaggery is often thought to be a suitable alternative to white and brown sugar; however, since jaggery has a high GI, there is no real benefit to a diabetes diet. While jaggery may have more nutrients than sugar, the nutritional benefit does not outweigh the impact on blood glucose.

Rather than choosing to eat jaggery, those with diabetes may benefit from choosing other kinds of natural sweeteners, like stevia or monk fruit, which do not cause a blood glucose spike.

Conclusion

Jaggery is a healthier alternative to sugar, but for people with diabetes, it is best avoided. While it contains more nutrients than white sugar, it still has a high GI and will cause a spike in blood glucose levels.

Klinio
  • Personalized and diabetes-safe meal plan
  • An integrated shopping list that matches the meal plan
  • No-equipment home workouts
  • All-in-one health and progress tracker
  • Detailed activity log
Our rating:
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Learn More
HR_author_photo_Edibel
Written by
Edibel Quintero is a medical doctor who graduated in 2013 from the University of Zulia and has been working in her profession since then. She specializes in obesity and nutrition, physical rehabilitation, sports massage and post-operative rehabilitation. Edibel’s goal is to help people live healthier lives by educating them about food, exercise, mental wellness and other lifestyle choices that can improve their quality of life.
Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD
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