India celebrates a line-up of festivals from September to December, making this period one of the most vibrant and joyful times of the year – starting from Janmastami, Navratri, Dusshera, Diwali, Christmas, and finally New Year. Food is an integral part of these festivities, more specifically, sweets are an indispensable part of feasting. And there’s absolutely no celebrations without gulab jamun, jalebi, barfi, kaju katli, halwa, peda, rasmalai, puran poli, and of course multiple varieties of kheer and ladoo. However, individuals who are on a diet are already panicking since they know all of these yummy sweets are made with sugar and binging on these treats would sound death knell for their weight loss goals. If you too are trying to figure out healthier alternatives to make a variety of mouth-watering Indian mithais, you must have finally short-listed honey and jaggery, both hailed for being better alternatives to white sugar. But can you actually binge on sweets made with honey and jaggery and still lose weight? Read on to find out:
Why Sugar is Not Good For You?
1. Sugar has a high amount of empty calories – 1 tablespoon sugar has around 48 calories. And now, calculate how many tablespoons of sugar you would need to make that motichoor ka ladoo.:P
2. Sugar can cause fine lines and wrinkles to appear on your skin prematurely, through a process called glycation, where the sugar in bloodstream attaches to protein and produces free radicals that damage collagen and elastin fiber, and when that happens, the skin loses its youthfulness and firmness. Also read: “10 No-Added Sugar Snacks For Weight Loss.”
3. Insulin resistance is one of the major causes of polycystic ovarian disease/PCOS. Excess sugar consumption can lead to insulin resistance by overloading cells with glucose, causing them to become less responsive to insulin signals. This forces the pancreas to produce more insulin, eventually leading to reduced insulin sensitivity and an increased risk of diabetes.
4. Leading cause of obesity. Excessive sugar intake spikes up insulin, and insulin is a hormone which facilitates fat storage in the body. Sugar is considered as one of the main causes of obesity and increasing waistline the world over.
5. Sugar consumption is linked to an increased risk of cancer and type 2 diabetes due to its role in promoting inflammation and insulin resistance, while its contribution to weight gain and inflammation heightens the risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease.
So, answering the main question:
Jaggery vs Honey – Which one is Better?
Jaggery (Indian gud) is an unrefined sweetener (usually sourced from sugarcane, coconut palm, and date palm), and used since ancient times in India to make sweets and treats. While white sugar undergoes extensive processing and lacks nutritional value, jaggery retains minerals like potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, manganese, and vitamins A, C, and E. It aids digestion, supports lung health, detoxifies the body, improves hemoglobin levels, relieves constipation, and may help in lowering blood pressure. However, it’s essential to note that nowadays jaggery undergoes extensive processing which may involve chemicals like calcium oxide and bleaching agents.
Calorie wise, jaggery has 383 per 100 gm and white sugar has 385 calories, but considering the nutritional value, jaggery is a better choice, though that does not make much of a difference from a weight loss point of view.
To cut the story short, with overconsumption, calories from both refined sugar and jaggery get converted to fat and stored in the body, leading to weight gain.
1. Rich in nutrients, with good amount of vitamins and minerals, honey has a good nutritional profile. Though there are more calories in honey (64 calories per tbsp) compared to white sugar (45 calories per tbsp), honey tastes way sweeter. The glycemic index of honey is 58 and sugar is 60, so not much difference there. Honey has more fructose and less glucose (sugar is 50% fructose/50% glucose whereas honey contains 40% fructose/30% glucose with rest of it water, enzymes, minerals, and nutrients), but do remember, it does still manage to raise blood sugar.
2. Even though the glycemic index of honey is slightly lesser than sugar at 58 (sugar has 60), it falls into medium GI index, and would still manage to raise the blood sugar, not ideal for people who are type 2 diabetes and trying to lose weight. Low glycemic foods rank from 1 to 55 (glycemic index of a food is determined based on how fast and how high it can increase blood glucose).
Counting calories per 100 gm – Calories in jaggery 383 per 100 gm, white sugar 385 calories per 100 gm, honey has 304 calories per 100 gm (pretty much the same amount of calories).
Summing up, honey and jaggery have calories plus nutrients whereas white sugar has only empty calories. But when it comes to losing weight, what matters is being in a calorie deficit, and in honey and jaggery, there are just too many calories, and when they are used to make Indian sweets, where other calorie-dense ingredients like ghee, nuts, refined flour, khoya are used generously; without portion control, having them would easily derail one’s weight loss journey. As we have mentioned above, at the end of the day, you need to consume fewer calories and burn more of them. So eventually, it’s not just about jaggery and honey, you need to consume less of calorie-dense foods, like mithai and sweets and in moderation. If you are trying to lose weight and have experienced disappointment with previous diets, consider checking out the Rati Beauty diet to lose weight fast and without crash dieting or starving. Subscribe to the Rati Beauty app to access all our diet plans.