Is Jaggery the Best Sugar-Alternative for Weight Watchers?

Dr. Pakhi Sharma (MBBS)
Dr. Pakhi Sharma (MBBS)

General Physician | 6+ years

Is Jaggery Good for Weight Loss
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Jaggery or gur has been a staple ingredient in most Indian kitchens for millennia. It was briefly replaced by sugar as the main sweetener in most households, but has had a resurgence recently, mostly due to people becoming more health-conscious. But is jaggery good for weight loss? What makes it better than sugar or honey as a sweetener? How much jaggery should you eat to lose weight? Read on to find out how jaggery helps you lose weight!

Contents:
  • blog_single_bullet_icon
    What is Jaggery?
  • blog_single_bullet_icon
    Jaggery: Nutritional Profile
  • blog_single_bullet_icon
    What are the Benefits of Jaggery for Weight Loss?
  • blog_single_bullet_icon
    How Much Jaggery Per Day is Good for Weight Loss?
  • blog_single_bullet_icon
    When Should You Eat Jaggery for Weight Loss?
  • blog_single_bullet_icon
    How to Eat Jaggery for Weight Loss?
  • blog_single_bullet_icon
    What are the Risks of Overconsumption of Jaggery?
  • blog_single_bullet_icon
    What are the Other Health Benefits of Jaggery?
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    Don’t Have Time To Read?
  • blog_single_bullet_icon
    FAQs
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What is Jaggery?

Jaggery is an unrefined, non-centrifugal sweetener made from sugarcane and toddy palm trees. It is called non-centrifugal because unlike sugar, for jaggery making, the sugarcane juice is not “spun” or centrifuged to remove molasses, which contains most of the nutrients. 

India is the largest producer of jaggery in the world, with about a 70% share of the global production. Jaggery is known as gur, gul, bellam, sharkara, or gola across India. It is widely used in South and South-East Asian cuisines. 

Jaggery: Nutritional Profile

Good quality jaggery contains over 70% sucrose, about 10% of glucose and fructose combined, with less than 3% of moisture. Jaggery is almost entirely composed of simple carbohydrates. The amount of protein, fibre, and fats in jaggery is almost negligible. Jaggery contains a moderate to a good amount of electrolytes like sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and chloride. It is also rich in iron, copper, manganese, and antioxidants. It also has small amounts of vitamins A, B-complex, C, D2, and E.

The following are the nutritional profiles for 100 g of jaggery, granulated sugar, and honey, according to the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

NutrientJaggeryGranulated SugarHoney
Energy383 kcal387 kcal304 kcal
Moisture< 3 g0.02 g17.1 g
Carbohydrates95 to 100 g100 g82.4 g

Total Sugar

  • Sucrose
  • Glucose and Fructose
  • Maltose
  • Galactose

75 to 100 g

65 to 85 g

10 to 15 g

0 g

0 g

99.8 g

99.8 g

0 g

0 g

0 g

82.1 g

0.89 g

76.7 g

1.44 g

3.1 g

Protein0.4 g0 g0.3 g
Fat0.1 g0 g0 g
Sodium19 to 30 mg1 mg4 mg
Iron10 to 13 mg0.05 mg0.42 mg
Calcium40 to 100 mg1 mg6 mg
Magnesium70 to 90 mg0 mg2 mg
Potassium1056 mg2 mg52 mg
Phosphorus20 to 90 mg0 mg4 mg
Manganese0.2 to 0.5 mg0.004 mg0.08 mg
Copper0.1 to 0.9 mg0.007 mg0.036mg

As seen in the above table, jaggery has more micronutrients compared to sugar and honey. Thus, when compared to jaggery, the calories in sugar and honey can be considered empty (without nutrients). Though jaggery is slightly higher in calories when compared to honey, it has more electrolytes and trace minerals that boost its nutritional value and make it the healthiest alternative to sugar for weight loss.

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What are the Benefits of Jaggery for Weight Loss?

  • Jaggery is sweeter than sugar, thus you require lesser quantities of it to sweeten your food or beverages when compared to sugar. Thus, jaggery helps in weight loss by lowering your calorie intake.
  • Unlike sugar, jaggery is not considered addictive. Thus, it could help you control your sugar cravings and limit the number of calories you consume.
  • Though jaggery is comparable to sugar in its calorie content, it contains a significantly higher amount of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals which improve digestion.

How Much Jaggery Per Day is Good for Weight Loss?

If you are trying to lose weight, limit your consumption of jaggery to 10 to 15 g a day. As jaggery is made up completely of sugars like sucrose, glucose, and fructose, eating more than 15 g of jaggery a day can lead to weight gain.

When Should You Eat Jaggery for Weight Loss?

There is no ideal time to eat jaggery for weight loss. As jaggery is rich in antioxidants, adding it to your morning detox drink can help boost your metabolism. Consuming jaggery after your meals can help improve digestion.

How to Eat Jaggery for Weight Loss?

  • You can replace honey with jaggery in your morning detox drink. Add a teaspoon (5 g) of jaggery powder or a jaggery cube to a glass of lukewarm water with lemon juice and ginger. Stir well till the jaggery is dissolved and drink on an empty stomach.
  • You can swap out honey or sugar with jaggery in your daily glass of milk or cup of black coffee or green tea.
  • Use jaggery in homemade desserts instead of sugar.
  • Replacing store-bought sodas or energy drinks with a glass of lemonade made with jaggery is good for weight loss.
  • Eat a small piece of jaggery (around 5 g) instead of a candy bar, chocolate, or sweet as an after-meal dessert.

What are the Risks of Overconsumption of Jaggery?

  • As jaggery is mostly composed of sugars which are simple carbohydrates, overconsumption can lead to weight gain.
  • Jaggery has a high glycaemic index (GI) score of 84, which means it can cause a high spike in your blood sugar levels when consumed. If you have diabetes, avoid or limit your consumption of jaggery as it can result in poor glycaemic control.

What are the Other Health Benefits of Jaggery?

  • The iron content in jaggery is easily absorbed by your body. Thus, jaggery can be useful in preventing iron-deficiency anaemia.
  • Jaggery is thought to prevent constipation and improve digestion.
  • Jaggery is rich in essential minerals and is helpful in maintaining electrolyte balance in your body.
  • Additionally, jaggery is also said to boost immunity, ease cramps, and prevent respiratory problems like cold and cough.

Don’t Have Time To Read?

  • Jaggery or gur is an unrefined sugar product made from sugarcane or palm trees.
  • Jaggery has a similar calorie content to sugar but is more nutrient-dense as it is rich in minerals like potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, etc. It also has a small amount of vitamins A, B-complex, C, D, and E.
  • Jaggery is sweeter than sugar, and thus can be used in smaller quantities than sugar to sweeten your food or beverages. This lowers your calorie intake.
  • Unlike sugar, jaggery is not addictive and can help you control sugar cravings.
  • Limit your jaggery intake to one tablespoon (10 to 15 g) a day.
  • You can replace sugar or honey with jaggery in your morning detox drink, milk, black coffee, tea, or other beverages.
  • You can also use jaggery to make desserts instead of sugar, or eat a small piece (about 3 to 5 g) of jaggery instead of candy, chocolate, or dessert.
  • Overconsumption of jaggery can lead to weight gain as it is high in simple carbohydrates. It can also cause high blood sugar levels due to its high glycaemic index (GI) score and should be avoided by diabetics.
  • When consumed, jaggery can improve digestion, restore and maintain electrolyte balance in your body, and prevent anaemia due to its high iron content.
  • Use the Phable Care App to consult India’s leading nutritionists and dieticians to get real-time remote care from the comfort of your home. Check out our store to order healthy treats, weighing scales, fitness bands, and more! We also have a Weight Management Program which provides 360º care. Start your weight management journey with Phable.

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, when used as a substitute for sugar, jaggery can help you lose weight. Though similar in calorie content, jaggery is sweeter than sugar and thus you require less of it to sweeten your food. This can help you cut down on calories. Also, unlike sugar, jaggery is rich in antioxidants, essential minerals and vitamins, and is not considered to be addictive. However, make sure to restrict your daily consumption of jaggery to around 10 or 15 g if you are trying to lose weight.

Jaggery has high amounts of simple carbohydrates, which can lead to weight gain if consumed in excess. Limit your daily intake of jaggery to 10 to 15 g for maintaining a healthy weight.

Though jaggery has no fat content, it is rich in simple carbohydrates. Consuming too many simple carbs can lead to weight gain and an increase in belly (visceral) fat. Thus, jaggery, if consumed in excess, can contribute to belly fat.

Yes, adding jaggery to tea can help with weight loss. However, adding jaggery to milk tea would not make much of a difference to your weight as the composition and preparation of milk tea negates the weight loss properties of jaggery, milk, and tea. Instead, try drinking green tea or black tea with half a teaspoon of jaggery instead of sugar, in order to lose weight.

Jaggery is a better alternative to sugar for weight loss as it is sweeter than sugar, which means you require less of it to sweeten your food. This can help you cut down on calories. Jaggery is also rich in electrolytes, minerals, vitamins and antioxidants which improve digestion.

Dr. Pakhi Sharma
Dr. Pakhi Sharma, MBBS
(General physician, 6+ years)
An expert in obstetrics and medical emergencies, Dr. Pakhi Sharma, an alumni of Sri Devaraj Urs University of Higher Education and Research Centre, is a general physician working at Phablecare. She has 6+ years of work experience spread across gynaecology and obstetrics, family medicine, and medical emergencies at renowned hospitals and clinics.

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