Article By Joy Ohenwa For ConnectNigeria Sometime last year in one of my WhatsApp chat groups, we were discussing healthy living and the refined sugar issue came up. By this time I, like many others, had been coming up with different ways around it: using brown sugar, switching to honey, squeezing lime and lemon for tea, and even taking our cereals without any sweeteners whatsoever. In the course of our discussion, a lady mentioned jaggery made from sugar cane too (and less commonly, date palm and coconut sap). None of us had ever heard of it, but since she runs a healthy living support business, we all listened. She told us that jaggery, which we could get from “any Indian shop”, is a healthy alternative to white sugar, which we all know is bad for us, because in the refining process, the sugar cane is stripped of all the natural nutrients and minerals it comes with, leaving us with an end product that: 1. Depresses your immune system. 2. Contributes to diabetes. 3. Affects your body PH. 4. Increases risk of obesity in adults and children. 5. Uses up your B-vitamins, magnesium and calcium in its digestion- depleting instead of nourishing. Jaggery on the other hand is unrefined sugar gotten from pure concentrated sugar cane juice, without all the processing that leaves us with empty calories. Jaggery is made by boiling pure sugar cane juice until it solidifies. It is then pressed into blocks and sold. Its benefits are purportedly many, not least of which are: 1. It aids digestion and prevents constipation. 2. It is a good source of iron. 3. It cleanses the liver. 4. It alleviates premenstrual symptoms. 5. It boosts your immunity and helps prevent early ageing as it is loaded with antioxidants and minerals like selenium and zinc. Jaggery is still sugar at the end of the day, so moderation is key as always. However, it’s the best substitute for white sugar I have ever tried: tea, pap, oats, everything we use sugar for, jaggery proved great for as well. We even popped corn with it and my little boy loved it. Probably not everyone will like jaggery, but it’s one of those things you shouldn’t knock out without trying first. You may never touch refined sugar again.