The science of nutrition is complex and often misunderstood. The dietary knowledge hurled on whatsapp groups and instagram are often understood out of context, and this is where the problems start.
Jaggery in the recent times has been widely touted to be a superfood and a healthy sweetner when compared to sugar. There is a sudden surge in the number of new jaggery based confectioneries marketed as healthy. This rising popularity fuelled by whataspp universities and marketing gimmicks has made everyone, irrespective of their diabetes status believe that jaggery is the ultimate healthy sweetner.
Can diabetics use jaggery instead of sugar?
But does the slightly better nutritional profile of jaggery make it diabetic friendly? The answer to this is a definite NO.
When a person is diagnosed with diabetes, the first dietary advise they get is to give up sugar. A lot of patients follow this advice to the T and simply shift to jaggery which is equally harmful for a diabetic, if not more.
We need to look at foods beyond just their vitamins and mineral values and also focus on their effects on the blood sugar levels, especially when it comes to diabetics.
To manufacture 1 kg of sugar, 10 kg of sugarcane is required and interestingly manufacturing of 1 kg jaggery also requires 10 kg of sugarcane. This means that equal amount of sugarcane is required to make the same amounts of sugar and jaggery. This information is enough to logically understand that both these sweetners will cause comparable sugar spikes.
What is the Glycaemic Index (GI)?
To understand this more scientifically, let us understand the term ‘Glycaemic Index’ . GLYCEMIC INDEX (GI) is a scale which helps to rank carbohydrate- rich foods, depending on how they affect blood glucose levels, by comparing them to glucose. In simple terms, GI measures how much your blood sugar level increases in a span of 2 - 3 hours after having food.
The glycaemic index of sugar is 65 and that of jaggery is a whooping 84.1. This simply implies that jaggery will definitely spike your blood glucose levels, despite it’s nutritional superiority over sugar.
To put thing into perspective let us look at the GI of commonly used food items.
Foods with GI less than 55 are considered to be low GI, 56 to 69 medium GI and more than 70, high GI.
Jaggery is clearly a high GI food.
You can opt for stevia, which is a natural sweetener. Stevia leaves are about 200 times sweeter than traditional white sugar and according to the FDA, the acceptable daily intake for steviol equivalents is 4mg per kg of body weight. That equates to about 12 mg of high-purity stevia extracts per kilogram of body weight per day.
If you are a diabetic, please avoid both sugar as well as jaggery.
Although Jaggery is a healthier alternative to sugar, it is still not safe for diabetics to consume. If you are diabetic and are looking for a healthy substitute for sugar, consult with a Diabetes specialist in Ahmedabad like Diahappy. They can help you find the right foods and medications to keep your blood sugar levels under control.