Jaggery The Medicinal Sugar
Come winter, there appears a groundnut vender with a redi having an earthen pot, coal burning light, keeping the nuts warm and fresh. Winters have no meaning without enjoying these groundnuts with some jaggery.
Eating Jaggery in winters helps generate heat in the body and ward off the cold temperature thus keeping the body warm and giving it energy.
Jaggery is made from pure sugarcane juice. It is pure and unrefined whole sugar having sufficient amount of vitamins and minerals that are needed for the healthy functioning of our body. These vitamins and minerals have natural properties that are present in sugarcane. Jaggery is prepared the natural way without using any chemical for processing. Thus its natural properties are preserved and is regarded as one of the purest forms of sugar. It consists of number of nutrients and has amazing health benefits. It relieves you of pain, relaxes nerves and muscles, helps blood vessels, cures cough and asthma, reduces fatigue, helps digestion and maintaining free urination etc. It purifies blood and regulates liver function and thereby prevents rheumatism.
■ Magnesium present in jaggery helps relieve fatigue, relaxes muscles and nerves.
■ To get relief from cramps and swellings you can make a paste of quick lime and jaggery and apply on the affected area. This will immediately give good results.
■ Take ½ spoon of harad (haritaki) powder with ½ spoon of old jaggery to get relief from pain.
■ A combination of old jaggery and ginger taken in the morning and evening provides relief of chest congestion.
■ Five grams (one teaspoon full) of new jaggery added to five grams of ginger paste and taken two times a day provides relief from rashes.
■ Five grams of dry ginger powder taken along with five grams of new jaggery provides relief from acidity.
■ For those who are anemic five grams of jaggery, five grams of fresh grated coconut, five badam (almonds) and one banana mixed together and taken daily help them in increasing hemoglobin levels. It is rich in iron and even gur and chana also help in raising the hemoglobin levels.
■ Taking a small piece of jaggery in diet is beneficial for those who work in woolen, coal and other high-level polluting industries as it helps in clearing the food pipe clogged by the woolen dust and other pollutants. This helps them breathe easy and counter the pollution problem.
■ Jaggery activates the digestive enzymes and itself changes to acetic acid in the stomach to speed up the digestion.
■ Potassium and sodium, present in jaggery in low amount, controls blood pressure.
■ Jaggery helps to maintain blood pressure and reduces water retention.
■ Jaggery consists of moderate amount of calcium, phosphorous and zinc which help in purification of blood and also helps to prevent rheumatic afflictions and disorders of bile.
Jaggery is widely used for culinary purposes. It sweetens the food in a healthy manner. It is used to sweeten the dishes like chutneys, rasam etc. During Makara Sankranti a sweet dish called pongal is made with jaggery and offered to Sun God. Many festivities are incomplete without jaggery. Jaggery water is prepared during the festivals and is given to devotees. People tend to eat a variety of food items, during the festival this Jaggery water helps in the speeding up of the digestion. During Ram Navami, this jaggery water is distributed in a very large scale. This is to ward off the oncoming summer prone diseases. There is a temple in Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh (Mangalagiri) where the deity Narsimha swami is on a hill top. Here only jaggery water is offered to God as prasadam. The God accepts only half of what we offer and the rest is given back to us. Every state has its own delicacy made of jaggery.
In earlier days people were offered jaggery water after they come back from work to relieve them of stress and strain. So from today onwards take a small piece of jaggery daily and keep yourself fit and fine.
By N Suguna