Often a very common question among people!
Many of us believe that table sugar is bad for health and if you replace that with jaggery and honey….TADAAAAA!!!!!! it is suddenly healthy! And I’m sure you are confused too..Today, in this blog article, I am going to break this down for you! And, let me dive into it straight away…
The most commonly used sugar (table sugar) is a compound called sucrose (combination of glucose & fructose). Sugar is found in the tissues of most plants, but are concentrated in sugarcane, from which it is manufactured. The processing of making sugar involves a lot of chemical treatments such as – treated with milk of lime (calcium hydroxide + water), later bleached by sulphur-dioxide followed by the crystallization process and finally giving the white sugar crystals. Based on how much is sugar refined, you will get white sugar or brown sugar.
1 teaspoon of table sugar has nearly 16 calories (simple carbs) and no other micro nutrient (minerals or vitamins). For this reasons, calories from table sugar is also often called as empty calories (calories without any extra micro nutrient value).
Table sugar being simple carbohydrates, upon consumption, immediately gets released into the blood stream as glucose, there by bringing the blood sugar levels up. Your pancreas then secrete the insulin hormone which helps in reducing the glucose content in the blood (blood sugar levels)
Table sugar is addictive and excessive consumption is known to create a lot of health related issues, especially those related to obesity.
Jaggery is also made from sugar cane, but devoid of the excessive chemical treatments. It is basically a combination of sugar with molasses and other minerals. Jaggery is also made from palm tree (Palm Jaggery)
Similar to table sugar, even jaggery provides similar calories. 1 teaspoon of jaggery has nearly 16 calories (simple carbs). However, unlike table sugar, since no chemicals are used in the preparation of jaggery, some minerals and vitamins remain intact in it, compared to refined sugar. Jaggery is thus rich in the micro nutrient – iron. It also contains many other minerals such as Magnesium, Potassium, Calcium, Selenium, Manganese and Zinc.
Jaggery is used as an ingredient for many Ayurvedic medicines and also has anti oxidant properties.
Jaggery is released into blood stream as glucose, pretty fast. However, they are released as glucose into the blood stream less faster than that of table sugar. Jaggery is thus slightly better than table sugar (as it has micro nutrients) but is still potent and lethal for diabetes and other life style-disorders.
In effect, Jaggery is only slightly better than table sugar but in no way a healthy substitute.
Honey as you all know is a sweet, viscous liquid produced by honey bees. Bees produce honey from the sugary secretions of plants.
Honey contains antioxidants and small amounts of vitamins and minerals. It may offer some health benefits, but at the end of the day, it’s still sugar and should not be consumed excessively.
1 teaspoon of honey has nearly 26 calories (higher than that of sugar) However, since honey is sweeter than sugar, one may not use the same amount of honey as that of sugar for the same level of sweetness.
Honey is often used in many Ayurvedic medicines and is even supposed to have anti bacterial properties. It is believed to have relieving effect on sore throat and other respiratory issues. It is also rich in B Vitamins.
Honey is also released into blood stream as glucose pretty fast, but slower than that of sugar. However, honey is sweet in nature and is addictive there by creating high blood sugar levels. Honey is thus not a magic substitute to sugar or jaggery
Fact: Consuming honey in lukewarm water for weight loss is a myth!
Table sugar is just plain calories with no micro nutrient value (minerals) and hence is not very beneficial. Jaggery & honey are slightly better than table sugar in terms of the time it takes to be released to blood as glucose and also in terms of the minerals it contains.
However, the health benefits of honey and jaggery as against table sugar are often much much over stated.
As a fitness coach, I would suggest those with high blood sugar levels to stay away from sugar, jaggery and honey!
What do we suggest?
Sugar in itself, alone, is the not the culprit..it is your over all lifestyle that also includes how active are you physically. If you are someone who goes out and burns a lot of calories, then a bit of extra sugar will not do any harm. Your body will be perfectly equipped to respond with necessary insulin response and also burn some extra calories.
However, we all know that most of us are not that “go out and exercise” kind of people. For such folks, I suggest that you replace sugar/jaggery/honey with the zero calorie organic substitute – Stevia!
Stevia is not a chemical (like the sugar free you get in super markets) and is extracted from the leaves of the plant species Stevia Rebaudiana, native to Brazil and Paraguay. However, recently, they are cultivated across other countries too, including India.
I should warn you that stevia has a slight bitter after taste based on the brand you buy. However, there are many brands of stevia that do not have an after taste