Jaggery no substitute for sugar

Diabetics must avoid substance, say doctors

It is that time of the year when jaggery becomes integral to a traditional festive spread. But this is no sweet news for diabetics. Doctors and nutritionists say that jaggery is not a substitute for sugar, and those with no good control of diabetes should steer clear of recipes containing jaggery.

‘Sakkarai’ Pongal is synonymous with the festival of harvest. But this popular dish that contains jaggery should be kept out of bounds for diabetics. Sugarcane too should be avoided, say doctors.

Jaggery, unlike white sugar, does have a nutritive side to it. As Meenakshi Bajaj, senior nutritionist, Tamil Nadu Government Multi Super Specialty Hospital, pinpoints, it provides up to 5 mg of iron per 100 grams and is a good source of calcium and potassium. But as far as diabetics are concerned, they should stay away from jaggery and sugar as both have equally high glycemic load.

Anand Moses, former director, Institute of Diabetology, Madras Medical College, said jaggery too gets converted into sugar in the body. “The only difference is the time taken for absorption. White sugar gets absorbed quickly, while jaggery gets absorbed slowly,” he said.

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