blackstrap molasses benefits

We are all aware that refined sugar is bad for health. Not only is sugar high in calories, but it also does not add any nutrients to our diet.

However, there is one type of sugar that contains nutrients that can do wonders for our health.

We’re talking about blackstrap molasses, a by-product of the sugar refining process.

Blackstrap molasses improves bone health, stabilize blood sugar levels, helps prevent cancer, and improves skin health.

Read on to learn more about blackstrap molasses and its numerous health benefits.

What is blackstrap molasses?

Blackstrap molasses is a dark, concentrated syrup, which is a by-product of the sugar refining process.

Cane sugar production is a three-step process. The process begins with the extraction of the juice from the mature sugar cane plants.

This juice is then boiled to concentrate and crystallize the sugar. This mixture is known as first molasses.

The crystallized sugar is removed, and the remaining mixture is boiled again. The mixture darkens, and the residual sugar is caramelized.

This mixture is known as the second molasses. After the sugar is removed, this mixture is boiled once again.

After this mixture has been boiled for the third time, the dark syrup that emerges is known as blackstrap molasses.

Blackstrap molasses is low in sugar content and rich in vitamins and minerals. It contains antioxidant compounds that may help prevent damage from free radicals.

It has a robust flavor, which is described as bittersweet.

History of blackstrap molasses

The term molasses comes from the Portuguese word ‘melaco,’ which is in turn derived from the Latin word ‘Mel,’ which means honey.

The word melasus was first seen in print in 1582 in a Portuguese book that heralded the conquest of the West Indies.

Molasses was exported to the US from the West Indies to make rum. High taxes were levied on molasses by the British government through the Molasses Act of 1733.

Up until the late nineteenth century, molasses was the most popular sweetener in the US because it was more affordable than refined sugar.

After the end of World War 1, the prices of sugar dropped drastically, and the consumers shifted to white sugar. Interestingly molasses costs twice as much as sugar now.

In January 1919, a giant vat of molasses exploded at the Purity Distilling Company, Boston.

This accident spilled two million gallons of molasses into the streets and killed 21 people. This incident came to be known as the great molasses flood.

The nutritional profile of blackstrap molasses

One 100 grams of blackstrap molasses contains (1):

  • Calories: 290
  • Carbohydrates: 75 grams
  • Sugars: 55 grams
  • Fats:  0
  • Calcium: 205 mg (20% DV)
  • Iron: 4.7 mg (26% DV)
  • Magnesium: 242 mg (61% DV)
  • Copper: .5 mg (24% DV)
  • Manganese: 1.5 mg (77% DV)
  • Potassium: 1464 mg (42% DV)
  • Vitamin B6: .7 mg (34% DV)
  • Pantothenic acid: .8 mg (8% DV)

Health benefits of blackstrap molasses

1. Helps stabilize blood sugar

Blackstrap molasses has a low glycemic index(GI), which means it is more slowly digested, metabolized, and absorbed, and causes a lower and slower rise in blood glucose and insulin levels.

Blackstrap molasses also contains high levels of chromium, which increases glucose tolerance and lowers blood glucose levels.

According to a 1997 study by the US Department of Agriculture, supplemental chromium has significant benefits on cholesterol, glucose, and insulin levels in people with type 2 diabetes (2).

2. Improves bone health

Blackstrap molasses contains many nutrients like calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, and manganese, which are vital for bone health.

We are aware that calcium, iron, and copper help to heal bones and reduce the risk of weak and brittle bones.

Magnesium is also essential for the absorption and metabolism of calcium.

Blackstrap molasses also contains manganese, which helps in the bone cartilage and collagen formation and bone mineralization.

Blackstrap molasses also has anti-inflammatory properties, which relieves swelling and joint pain and acts as a natural treatment for arthritis.

3. Menstrual remedy

Blackstrap molasses can be used as a remedy for heavy or painful periods. It contains high quantities of iron, which is also useful in improving mood.

Iron deficiency is known to result in lack of energy, poor mood, and inadequate sleep.

Blackstrap molasses also contains magnesium, manganese, and calcium, which prevent clotting of blood and this relieves menstrual cramps.

Drink a cup of hot water or tea with blackstrap molasses to help ease discomfort during menstruation.

4. Treats anemia

Low level of iron is one of the most common deficiencies in the US and the leading cause of anemia. It can result in tiredness and fatigue.

Fortunately, iron deficiency can easily be treated. Blackstrap molasses is rich in dietary iron.

Just a hundred grams of blackstrap molasses contains 26 percent of the daily requirements of iron (3).

Blackstrap molasses is easily absorbed by the body and is even safe to use during pregnancy.

5. Reduces stress

Blackstrap molasses contains several nutrients like magnesium, calcium, and B vitamins that are known for reducing stress and anxiety.

Vitamin B6 raises serotonin levels in the brain. This hormone controls moods and prevents pain, depression, and fatigue.

Research has shown that magnesium plays a vital role in regulating neurotransmitters. So, it helps reduce anxiety by improving brain function (4).

6. Prevents cancer

Blackstrap molasses has been used for therapy of many diseases, including cancer for centuries.

Some anecdotal evidence even suggests that cancer was sporadic among sugarcane plantation workers who regularly consumed raw brown sugar.

Blackstrap molasses is rich in essential minerals like iron, zinc, selenium, magnesium, potassium, and B vitamins, the deficiency of which can confer a significant cancer risk.

Blackstrap molasses also contains amino acids and linoleic acid, that has an anti-tumor effect(5).

7. Boosts skin health

Blackstrap molasses provides numerous skin benefits like anti-aging, exfoliating, and softening.

It is a remedy for acne and rosacea. Blackstrap molasses contains lactic acid, which helps to treat acne and other skin conditions.

During a study by All India Institute of Medical Science, New Delhi, India, researchers gave22 patients a 5 % aqueous solution of lactate to apply topically over the face twice a day for one year.

At the end of one year, 41 percent of the patients showed a 100 percent reduction in skin lesions (6).

To use blackstrap molasses for skin, dilute it with water and apply on the face. Wash diluted blackstrap molasses off with warm water after five minutes.

8. Remedy for ADHD and ADD

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is defined as age-inappropriate impulsiveness, lack of concentration, and excessive physical activity.

Studies have shown that children with ADHD and ADD have the same symptoms as people with a deficiency in iron, zinc, magnesium, and calcium.

A daily spoon of blackstrap molasses is a natural way to provide these minerals to your child.

Unlike regular sugar, blackstrap molasses does not cause blood sugar level spikes and hyperactivity.

9. Reduces hair loss

Blackstrap molasses reduces hair loss, gives hair a softer texture, and prevents greying of hair.

The anti-aging antioxidant minerals like selenium, manganese, and zinc, help to improve the health of the hair.

Molasses also contains copper which provides the pigment that gives the hair its natural color.

You can consume one or two spoons of molasses daily or dilute it with water and apply it like a conditioner.

10. Promotes intestinal regularity

Blackstrap molasses is an excellent natural remedy for constipation. While it is not a laxative, it can help in healthy elimination thanks to all the nutrients that it contains.

The magnesium content of blackstrap molasses helps to relax the muscles of the intestines and helps in treating constipation.

Take one or two tablespoons of blackstrap molasses with a glass of warm water early in the morning to promote bowel regularity.

11. Contains potassium

Blackstrap molasses is rich in potassium. Just two teaspoons of potassium can provide 10 percent of our daily requirement for potassium.

Potassium helps lower cholesterols, systolic blood pressure, and supports a healthy cardiovascular system.

Potassium also keeps the body hydrated and helps to cleanse the liver.

Side effects of blackstrap molasses

Blackstrap molasses is safe for use by most people as long as you consume it in moderation.

Some people may develop an allergic reaction to blackstrap molasses due to the presence of a sulfite in it.

While purchasing blackstrap molasses at your local health food store, look for products that are organic and unsulfured.

Though it is a healthier alternative to refined sugar, excessive intake can have adverse effects. People with diabetes should avoid using excessive amounts of blackstrap molasses.

Excessive intake of this molasses can also lead to digestive problems like diarrhea. If you have irritable bowel syndrome, you should avoid consuming blackstrap molasses.

Final thoughts

Blackstrap molasses is a dark, concentrated syrup, which is a by-product of the sugar refining process.

It has high nutritional value and provides numerous health benefits.

It helps stabilize blood sugar, improves bone health, eases discomfort during menstruation, boosts skin health, and prevents cancer.

Though blackstrap molasses is safe for most people, you should consume it in moderation. Excessive intake can cause digestive problems.

Always purchase organic and unsulfured blackstrap molasses.