Jaggery, aka Panela, is a natural sweetener made from concentrated sugarcane juice and is the closest alternative to sugar you can find. It is sometimes referred to as “country sugar“. Jaggery is predominantly made in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Myanmar.

Organic jaggery is a superior product among natural sweeteners due to its nutritional content. Jaggery has a distinctive taste (somewhere between molasses and caramel) and its consistency can be as soft as honey-butter or as solid as fudge. The sugar is crystal.

Jaggery in Indian Culture

Jaggery has a distinct place in Indian culture and is used in many religious activities, rituals and customs. It is considered sacred and is consumed before a new venture, journey, or business endeavor. It is also consumed after child birth, after attending a funeral, and to celebrate good fortune, or good news.

Jaggery is used in chocolates, candies, sorbets, health tonics, syrups, and for making alcoholic beverages, particularly rum. It has other industrial applications too.

Jaggery is often referred to as “medicinal sugar“. Jaggery is frequently used to cure constipation, coughs and indigestion. It is used as an energy food to purify blood, regulate the liver function and keep the body healthy.

Jaggery (Panela) contains proteins, many minerals and vitamins. It is a potent source of iron, containing higher iron and copper contents than white sugar.

The preventive action of Jaggery on smoke-induced lung lesions suggest the potential of Jaggery as protective agent for workers in dusty and smoky environments.

You can purchase jaggery in the form of a powder, liquid or even a solid block. This can be used to sweeten a lot of Indian treats.

Nutrition information per tablespoon

  • Calories: 19
  • Vitamin B Complex: 1g
  • Folic Acid: 1mg
  • Iron: 1mg
  • Calcium: 5mg

The darker the jaggery is in color, the richer it is in mineral content (particularly iron content) and the better it is for your health.

Jaggery can be used for both a cooling effect or a warming effect.

  • Cooling Effect: Palmyra jaggery, usually made into a drink by dissolving in water, has a wonderful cooling effect on the body during the summer.
  • Warming Effect: Date palm jaggery is manufactured and consumed in the winter. It has a warming effect on the body and is nutritious as well.

Sources: Sources: Environ Health Perspect, 102 (Suppl 6): 211-214
Industrial Toxicology Research Centre Lyon, France

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