Sugar, jaggery and honey
Sugar, jaggery and honey are sweetening agents. They are added to beverages and foods to increase palatability. Sugar is made up of glucose and fructose. It is a source of energy providing 4 kilocalories per gram. Sugar provides only empty calories. Jaggery is made from sugar cane juice after processing it. Jaggery is a fair source of iron. Palmyra palm, date palm or coconut palm is used to make jaggery. Honey is the golden coloured syrup made by bees from the nectar of flowers. It is a mixture of glucose and fructose.
Sugars are carbohydrates that come from the sugarcane plant, sugar beets and it is naturally present in fruits, vegetables and dairy, our body uses sugar to give energy to our cells by breaking it down to glucose.
Regular or white granulated sugar: It is the most common sugar called for in recipes when cooking and baking.
Confectioneries or powdered sugar: Powdered sugar is simple granulated sugar ground to a smooth powder and then sifted. Commercially available powdered sugar is mixed with a small amount of corn starch (3%) to prevent caking. It is often used in icings, confections and whipping cream.
Castor sugar (Super fine sugar): This sugar has the smallest crystal size of white granulated sugars. It is generally used in making delicate or smooth desserts such as puddings. Because the crystals are so fine, they dissolve easily, even in cold drinks.
Brown sugar: Brown sugar is made by mixing white sugar with various amount of molasses. Light brown sugar is often used in sauces and most baked goods.
Liquid sugar: Liquid sugar is white granulated sugar that has been dissolved in water. Liquid sugar is often used in drinks.
Palm sugar: It is a sweetener derived from any variety of palm tree. Palm sugar is an ingredient in both sweet and savoury dishes used throughout Asia, Middle East and North Africa.
Beet sugar: Sugar beet is a plant whose root contains a high concentration of sucrose and which is grown commercially for sugar production.
Sugars have a number of functions in the preparation of foods, such as improving taste and texture.
» Providing sweetness.
» Used as preservatives in jams and jellies.
» Increasing the boiling point or reduces the freezing point of foods.
» Allowing fermentation by yeast.
· Sweetened beverages such as colas, packaged fruit juices, aerated drinks should be avoided/limited as far as possible as the sugar in these products provide empty calories.
· High amounts of fat and sugar are used to prepare confectionery (cakes, pastries) and sweets. These foods should be consumed sparingly.
Sugars have long been cited for contributing to obesity, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Here are some of the effects that consumption of too much sugar on health:
Sugar is an important source of energy. During digestion, all carbohydrates in food (starches and sugars) break down into simple sugar. These molecular sugars are absorbed from the intestine into the blood stream and travel to the cells, where they are used to provide energy for cellular functions. In parts of the world, where people suffer from energy malnutrition and are undernourished, sugar is valued as an inexpensive source of energy to support human activities.
When sugar is boiled at different temperatures, various sweets can be made.
Jaggery is a concentrated product of cane juice and can vary from golden brown to dark brown in colour. It contains upto 50% sucrose, 20% invert sugars and 20% moisture. It is mostly produced in India and Africa. It is used to make several Indian desserts and is known as a healthy replacement of sugar, primarily because it is unprocessed.
· Jaggery square – Achu vellam
· Jaggery palm – Karuppatti
· Jaggery (paagu) – Paagu vellam
Jaggery can also provide therapeutic benefits, and hence used as various medicines in ayurveda and folk medicine.
Some medicinal uses of jaggery are given below:
The simple use of jaggery helps to get remedy from common cold. It is taken with dried ginger and black pepper and has similar effects as conventional medications.
Jaggery : 3 grams
Black pepper : 250 mg
Dried ginger powder : 500 mg
Honey : 1 tsp
Crush jaggery crystal , mix it with other ingredients. Eat it after meal three times a day. It works immediately after eating first dose.
Jaggery also works in chronic cough remedy. It reduces throat irritation due to soothing and smoothening effects on soft tissues of throat. According to ayurveda, it produces warmth to the lungs and dilates the respiratory tract, so it helps in cough, asthma and breathing trouble.
Honey is a sweet food made by bees from the flowers nectar or honeydew droplets. It is the only food that includes all the substances necessary to sustain life, including enzymes, vitamins, minerals, and water and even more.
Honeyisoneamongthemost popularand widely used sweeteners with enormous health benefits. The health benefits and advantages of honey have been valued since ages.