Jaggery is considered to be the healthier alternative to sugar, so much so that even diabetics are advised to have it. Today let’s find out whether that’s a good idea.
The food we eat gets converted into sugar and the energy released from it is distributed throughout the body to perform various functions by the insulin hormone. However, if a person has diabetes, the body either does not adequately produce insulin or is unable to utilise the insulin produced according to Jasleen Kaur, consultant dietician and founder, Just Diet Clinic, Delhi.
The result? Blood sugar levels are higher in their case and can lead to several health complications in the long run such as heart diseases, kidney problems, nerve damage, and obesity to name a few. This is why these unfortunate people are asked to steer clear of refined carbohydrates and sugar that are likely to increase their already imbalanced blood sugar levels like crazy!
While sugar is out of the question for diabetics, other healthier alternatives like jaggery are still being debated about.
So we decided to ask the experts whether…
Is it safe for diabetics to have jaggery?
“Diabetics must not consume sugar to worsen their condition,” warns Karishma Chawla, nutritionist and lifestyle educator.
“However, jaggery is better than refined sugar as it does not give the glucose spike like sugar does,” she adds. “Also, unlike refined sugar, jaggery has a lot of health benefits as it is a rich source of iron, magnesium, and potassium.”
Does this mean diabetes patients can count on jaggery and consider themselves covered? The answer is NO.
“Diabetic patients tend to eat jaggery in excess assuming that it will not increase their blood sugar levels. That is not true because it DOES increase blood sugar levels,” Kaur warns and strictly recommends keeping its consumption limited or simply steering clear of it, if your case of diabetes is severe.
Apart from limiting their jaggery intake to say 1-2 teaspoons a day, Chawla suggests using natural herbs like ginger, basil, cardamom for flavour instead. She strictly warns against the use of artificial sweeteners and points out how they can cause gut health problems and insulin resistance in the long run.
As for the use of stevia for sweetness, Kaur urges people to rely only on the homegrown stevia leaves and not the packaged stevia sweeteners available in the market.