I’m sure after reading the caption you’d be like, is she crazy?! How can sugar have any benefits? Yeh larki humai mota kar k choregi!
Well, no matter how crazy it sounds, sugar actually does have some benefits. Now, if you are dealing with some health issues which require you to cut down on sugar or totally omit it from your daily diet, then be my guest and do so. But if you are a healthy human being without any special dietary requirements, then the good news for you is that there is absolutely no reason why you should skip sugar from your chai or go for sugar-free alternatives for different recipes. In fact, there are numerous studies that show that sugar-free biscuits/ice creams/beverages are far more dangerous for your health and well being as they are loaded with preservatives and chemicals that we can’t even pronounce properly. So if you want to have a serving of gulab jamun or home-made kheer or halwa, please go ahead and have it without depriving yourself of its other benefits.
In today’s post I am going to list down some of the benefits that our good old natural sugar has and how it actually helps us in living the good life. And before you start judging me, know that all of these points are derived from a famous nutritionist and exercise science expert, Rujuta Diwekar‘s book “Indian Superfoods“. I am no expert but a little reading, research and common sense makes me totally agree with her philosophy. I will link the PDF and other sources of this blog post at the end. So keep reading 🙂
Reasons Why Sugar is Awesome
1. Sugar cane and its derivatives are a rich source of Fibre, Vitamins and Minerals that aid digestion. Now you know why mishri and saunf used to be served at some of our desi dinner parties after meals?
2. Sugar has anti-ageing properties. It has glycolic acid which is a kind of AHA (alpha hydroxy acid) that is found in many of our skin care products.
3. Sugar, in the form of jaggery, has warming effects to the body. Combined with ghee it not only keeps our bones well lubricated, but also helps get rid of that bloated feeling. (Tried and tested!)
4. The other kind of normal white sugar is actually as a natural coolant and must always be added to traditional sharbats like nimbu pani. It’s also very refreshing for summers and keeps the body cool and calm!
5. Sugar enhances the flavor of many savory dishes. Just like we add a pinch of salt to cakes and desserts to enhance the flavor, add a tsp of sugar to your savory dishes for that zing in flavor! My dadi always used to add a little bit of sugar to pulao and now I know why 🙂
6. Sugar is also a delivery agent which means that it helps your body in absorbing nutrients and bioactive compounds. No wonder homeopathy uses sugar pills to deliver the medicine.
7. And lastly, sugar makes all occasions worthwhile as it’s a brain fuel too. No wonder har khushi k mauqay pe moo meetha karatay hain 🙂
The Bad Kind of Sugar
Now that we know how awesome sugar is, let’s discuss the huge misconception that cheeni khaane se diabetes hojati hai. That is really not the case. Diabetes, obesity and heart diseases are linked to a sedentary lifestyle and high consumption of junk and processed foods. The sugar that is derived from natural sugar cane sources is the one that you should consume, and not the one derived from High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) or beet sugar. This is the kind of sugar that is added to colas and other junk food sources and we all now agree that those are bad for our health.
It is true that our consumption of sugar has increased over the years, but that is only because we have started to consume more packaged cereals, biscuits, juices and colas. Our traditional breakfast of paratha or egg has been replaced with quick cereals loaded with sugar and added fibre (that by the way, our bodies can’t even digest properly). We don’t have time to cook at home and are adding up all the bad stuff into our daily routines while skipping the good stuff.
So maybe the good old cheeni is not the culprit and we, ourselves, are.
If you’d like to read more on the topic, I highly recommend this article by Rujuta.
Also go through the chapter on sugar in Indian Superfoods. The book can be downloaded from this link: https://kupdf.com/download/indian-superfoods-diwekar-rujuta_58b6b7846454a7e979b1e8d5_pdf