Jaggery, also known as gur is a natural unrefined sweetener made from concentrated sugarcane juice which also serves as the source for another sweetener, namely sugar. However, the similarity between jaggery and sugar ends with the source of their raw material, for while sugar undergoes numerous chemical processes (making it a refined sweetener), jaggery is made using a much simpler process and therefore contains relatively lower levels of harmful chemicals. In fact, the presence of chemicals in jaggery is mostly due to modern-day farming and production techniques, therefore to enjoy a chemical-free version which retains all of the inherent nutrient goodness, organic jaggery is the recommended choice.
The numerous health benefits of naturally produced jaggery (chemical free) are the reason why it has been hugely popular, since ancient times, as a natural sweetener both in Indian kitchens and also in Ayurvedic medicines. This is also why in current-day India, jaggery is considered as a healthy alternative to sugar for people of all age groups. While it is beneficial for everyone, here we will focus on the health benefits of jaggery for babies in particular.
Jaggery for Your Baby
Babies aged around one year and over (recommended) can be introduced to jaggery in their diet. However, it is recommended that you consult with your doctor before introducing it into your baby’s diet.
The 5 Health Benefits
Jaggery retains its nutrient goodness in the form of Vitamins like Vitamins B4, B5 and B6; Minerals like Calcium, Iron, Potassium, Magnesium etc and Antioxidants like Zinc and Selenium, which bring the following long term health benefits for your baby:
- Builds Immunity
The antioxidants present in jaggery help strengthen your baby’s immunity against seasonal infections. Jaggery mixed with warm water helps provide relief in case your baby is suffering from a cough or cold.
- Protection from Pollution
As an extension of protecting your baby from infections, jaggery also works to clear the lungs of smoke and toxins which accumulate as a result of environmental pollution, making it especially helpful in preventing and curing respiratory infections.
- Helps Prevent Anaemia
Being a rich source of Iron, jaggery helps in preventing the risk of iron-deficiency anaemia (which is a type of anaemia).
- Builds Bone Strength
Minerals like Calcium, Magnesium and Potassium which are present in jaggery help strengthen and develop your baby’s bones, muscles and teeth during their growth and development phase and also help prevent the onset of bone-related problems later on in their life.
- Aids the Digestion Process
Jaggery aids your baby’s entire digestion process by activating the digestive enzymes in the stomach and by also ensuring smooth bowel movements.
All these points show how beneficial jaggery is for the health of your baby, however, it is advisable to consult your baby’s doctor regarding as to when you can start introducing jaggery in your baby’s diet and the ideal quantity to be given.