Every Indian has a sweet tooth without question. No one even tries to contradict this fact just for the sake of an argument. All you need to do is look around you!
Sweet shops are a common sight in any Indian market. We celebrate occasions and important events by sharing sweets. We start the day by eating something sweet and even end it by satisfying our sweet tooth. Quite naturally, there is high demand for sweeteners such as jaggery and brown sugar which are used to make sweets and various other food items in India. While white sugar is the most common variety of sugar available in the market, brown sugar and jaggery have a special place in Indian kitchens that are increasingly turning health-conscious.
Brown sugar and jaggery are considered healthier in comparison to white sugar since their production does not require as much processing as white sugar does. The question that now arises is, which of the two is healthier? Both jaggery and brown sugar have a similar taste and are sourced from sugarcane or palm. However, each of them has specific traits which make them unique. In this article, we will explore deeper into this subject and understand the difference between the two, and leave it for our readers to decide which is better for them.
How Are Jaggery And Brown Sugar Made?
Popularly known as Gur in India, jaggery is a common sight in most markets across the country. Families with a strong inclination towards a more traditional lifestyle still use this product as a sweetener since it is sourced naturally with little or no processing involved.
Jaggery is usually produced by boiling sugarcane juice or palm sap until it solidifies into a dark-coloured mass. The juice is first extracted from the sugarcane or palm tree and heated at high temperatures. Impurities are removed from the syrup and stirred regularly until it thickens and forms granules. This syrup is poured into containers and stored until it cools down and solidifies. The final product will be a naturally extracted sweetener. In terms of core production methods, it doesn’t involve any further processing. However, with varying tastes and lifestyle choices, further processing may be added.
Brown sugar is made by mixing refined sugar with molasses, a syrup obtained during the refining process of sugarcane or beet juice. Depending on the amount of molasses you add, the colour and flavour of the brown sugar will be defined. Light-coloured brown sugar contains fewer molasses while the darker-coloured variants have more molasses. In other words, the ratio of molasses determines the outcome of brown sugar. Once the texture, colour, and taste are finalized, the mixture is then processed to form small granules similar to white sugar.
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Uses And Properties
Although brown sugar and jaggery come from the same source, their uses may vary depending on the user. Jaggery is a traditional sweetener used mostly in the Indian subcontinent, certain parts of the Middle East, and Far East countries. This item has found foothold in western countries, particularly the USA, in recent years as a healthy substitute for white sugar which involves many rounds of processing depriving it of its nutritional value.
Jaggery is used mainly to make traditional sweets and also finds use in various sweet and savoury food items across the subcontinent. Gulab jamun, kheer, kalakand, and almost every other popular sweet dishes use jaggery as their sweetener. While jaggery may not be as sweet as brown sugar, it has a rich taste which is distinct and has high mineral content since it is not processed. This is what makes it popular while making Indian sweets. It is also used as an Ayurvedic medicine for its health benefits, such as aiding digestion, boosting the immune, and treating anemia. It also serves as a source of quick energy and is consumed by people who engage in hard manual labour.
Brown sugar is more popular in western countries and serves as an all-purpose sweetener for daily needs. Since it comes in the form of loose crystals, it is very convenient and perfect for sweetening our tea, coffee, pastries, and other food items that go with sugar. It is also used for baking cakes, making sauces, marinades, and glazing for various food items.
While both items can be interchanged in many cases. Point to be noted, people using jaggery for the first time may want to go slow since its taste can be intense, raw, and has significantly different physical properties compared to brown sugar. It may not work with everyone’s food habits, particularly westerners given their inclination towards processed food.
Now let’s look at the nutritional profile of 100 grams of brown sugar and jaggery to understand its impact on our overall health and well-being.
|Calories||380.0 Kcal||383.0 Kcal|
|Fat||0.0 g||0.0 g|
|Carbohydrate||98.1 g||98.0 g|
|Calcium||83.0 mg||80.0 mg|
|Potassium||133.0 mg||140.0 mg|
|Phosphorus||4.0 mg||40.0 mg|
|Iron||0.7 mg||5.4 mg|
|Magnesium||9.0 mg||160.0 mg|
If we look closely at the chart, both products are quite similar in comparison. The energy delivered by both items is pretty much the same. That being said, jaggery is still preferred by health enthusiasts over brown sugar since its production process is 100% natural and doesn’t involve any artificial processing. Other than that, it has higher iron content compared to brown sugar. If you ever watch any health-related videos talking about sweeteners in their meals, there is a good chance that they will mention jaggery as their go-to sweetener compared to brown sugar or white sugar.
With this comparison, it is quite evident that brown sugar and jaggery are quite similar in terms of nutritional profile. It boils down to personal preferences and the availability of the product depending on the region. They are essentially made of sucrose, glucose and fructose which is the building block for both products. Granted, jaggery has an upper hand in a certain manner since it is touted to be natural and unprocessed despite a similar nutritional profile.
To sum it up, despite all the health benefits both items may offer, it’s best to consume them in moderation. Excess of anything is bad. Whether you consume brown sugar or jaggery, moderation is the key.