Blackstrap molasses is a sweetener perhaps most commonly used by generations past, although if you’ve had gingerbread cookies, then you know the taste. Blackstrap molasses gives gingerbread cookies their signature taste.
However, blackstrap molasses isn’t just for cookie making in grandma’s kitchen. It’s making a comeback because it is a superfood in its own right, with many amazing health benefits that range from blood sugar balance to being rich in nutrients to being a great skin and hair remedy.
What is Blackstrap Molasses?
Blackstrap molasses is made from sugar cane. During the manufacturing process, sugar cane is smashed and shredded to produce a juice. This juice is boiled, which results in cane syrup. From this, cane sugar is extracted.
When the cane syrup is boiled a second time, the liquid gets darker and more burnt, which is how molasses is made. To get blackstrap molasses, this cane syrup is boiled for a third time.
Blackstrap molasses has barely any sugar content, especially when compared to cane sugar and regular molasses. Instead of being void of nutrients, like cane sugar, blackstrap molasses is actually rich in many nutrients, including vitamins and minerals, such as:
- Vitamin B6
10 Health Benefits of Blackstrap Molasses
Blackstrap molasses isn’t your average sweetener. Not only is it rich in nutrients, it has numerous health benefits. If you aren’t already adding blackstrap molasses to your baked goods, now’s the time!
Boosts Blood Health
Blood has numerous components that it needs to be considered healthy. It transports oxygen throughout the body, but to do this it needs red blood cells.
Anemia is a condition where the body is running low on red blood cells and often iron, too. Anemia can result in feelings of tiredness and fatigue that can feel unrelenting. Blackstrap molasses is a rich source of dietary iron and just two and a half tablespoons contain almost half of your day’s iron requirements.
Doctors often suggest using at least one tablespoon daily because the iron in blackstrap molasses is easily absorbed and put to use. It’s even a pregnancy-safe way to boost iron intake and reduce the effects of anemia.
Fights Premenstrual Syndrome
PMS impacts nearly 75 percent of women and blackstrap molasses has been used to alleviate symptoms for hundreds of years.
How does it help?
The nutrients in blackstrap molasses can help to ease symptoms like acne, low mood, bloating and water retention, breast tenderness, and even feelings of irritability. Iron specifically can be helpful, too, as it helps to replenish lost nutrients relating to menstruation.
Other minerals in blackstrap molasses, like magnesium, can ease cramping and other uterine discomfort because of their ability to relax muscles.
A PMS tea made with blackstrap molasses, warm water, and raw honey can help to provide soothing comfort while also helping to promote a good night’s sleep.
Promotes a Balanced Mood & Mind
Anxiety, stress, and depression are common mental health disorders that plague hundreds of thousands of people every year. While food alone won’t solve these problems, some symptoms can be alleviated by nutrients, including those found in blackstrap molasses.
Vitamin B6 in particular has mood-boosting benefits and can help to increase certain neurotransmitters in the brain that are responsible for keeping depression at bay. This mood boost can result in better sleep, improved cognitive function, increased sexual desire, and more feelings of content and happiness.
Magnesium is another nutrient in blackstrap molasses that can help balance the mood, especially when it comes to anxiety, depression, and stress.
Beyond mood, blackstrap molasses can also help to provide a stabilizing effect on the brain of people with ADD and ADHD, particularly since those conditions are associated with low levels of zinc, magnesium, iron, calcium, and manganese.
Supports Bone Health
Bone health isn’t just dependent on calcium. It also requires several other minerals in a precise balance. Magnesium especially is important, and when magnesium levels are low, it can throw off the balance of calcium levels, too.
Blackstrap molasses has both calcium and magnesium, making it a superfood fit for protecting against osteoporosis and weak bones. Two heaping tablespoons of molasses contains approximately 25 percent the recommended daily allowance for calcium, 45 percent of iron, and 20 percent of magnesium.
While it might seem like a problem that’s easy to overlook, more than 10 million Americans have osteoporosis, and once you develop bone conditions, it’s hard to fully reverse them.
By proactively consuming nutrients that support strong bones, you’re investing in the future of your health.
Helps Balance Blood Sugar Levels
Have you ever heard of a sweetener that supports balanced blood sugar?
Normally we hear of how sugar and other sweeteners causes problems for diabetes and raises insulin and blood glucose levels, but blackstrap molasses can have a balancing effect on glucose.
It has a low glycemic impact and helps to slow down how the body breaks down and absorbs glucose. Blackstrap molasses also contains chromium, another nutrient that is regularly supplemented in people with diabetes to help keep blood glucose levels low.
Even if you are diabetic, you can still enjoy home baked desserts with a sweetener that isn’t artificial or chockfull of sugar.
Supports Healthy Hair & Helps Prevent Hair Loss
Blackstrap molasses supports healthy hair in two ways: both internally and topically. Let’s start with internal first. Iron deficiency is one of the main factors in hair loss problems and even with brittle hair or hair that breaks easily.
Iron deficiency is one of the top reasons for hair loss in women, but the good news is that regular consumption of blackstrap molasses can not only boost iron levels and support healthy hair from the inside out, it can also help hair grow back that has fallen out and can reduce the chances of going gray early.
Topically, blackstrap molasses also has benefits for the hair. It can treat frizz in hair from over treatment with hair color or perms, and can help to tame frizz associated with natural curl. It can even reduce damage from bleach.
To use blackstrap molasses for hair care, make a solution with 1 cup of warm water and one or two teaspoons of blackstrap molasses. Stir together and then apply to the hair. Leave on for 10 to 20 minutes and then rinse and shampoo as normal.
Has Anticancer Properties
While lots of things claim to be anticancer or cancer fighting, research from the American Diabetic Association supports blackstrap molasses as an anticancer food because it is so rich in antioxidants.
Antioxidants prevent oxidative damage in the body, which, when it occurs, can result in cell damage that leads to cancer cell growth and replication.
Blackstrap molasses and other antioxidant rich foods help to protect DNA in the body from damage.
Helps Promote Intestinal Regularity
Constipation is more than just a discomfort—it can be a legitimate health issues that involves problems with detoxing and healthy digestion.
Blackstrap molasses isn’t a laxative, but can work as a gentle aid for healthy elimination thanks to all of the nutrients that it contains. Magnesium especially helps to relax the muscles of the intestines and can lead to improved elimination.
One or two tablespoons in a glass of warm water, taken first thing in the morning, can help to promote bowel regularity. Bonus: it is far more pleasant to take than other natural aids for constipation relief.
Fights Inflammation & Arthritis Conditions
Arthritis is a condition rooted in inflammation, as are many other chronic conditions. Antioxidants help to fight inflammation in the body and can help to relieve symptoms of chronic inflammatory conditions.
Blackstrap molasses is used by people who have rheumatoid arthritis, in particular, because it helps to address many common symptoms: cognitive problems, joint pain, cholesterol issues, and other issues associated with premature aging.
Supports a Healthy Blood Pressure
While there are many markers of heart health, blood pressure is one that is extremely important. Potassium is a nutrient that helps to support balanced blood pressure, and those with high blood pressure tend to need more of it.
Blackstrap molasses is a source of natural potassium and can help to promote a healthy, normal blood pressure. Beyond potassium, the magnesium and calcium that are also found in blackstrap molasses can help to promote a healthy blood pressure and cardiovascular system.
How to Shop For & Use Blackstrap Molasses
If you’re not familiar with blackstrap molasses, it can feel overwhelming to buy it for the first time. The good news is that it is widely available at grocery stores, health food stores, and online.
You will want to find a variety that is organic and contains no extra ingredients on the label. Sometimes molasses can be paired with other sweeteners.
When it comes to using blackstrap molasses, many health-related benefits come from making a tonic. This can be done using warm water and blackstrap molasses, and can be drank or even used topically, such as on your hair.
To make a blackstrap molasses tonic, simply warm eight ounces of water and stir in one or two tablespoons of the molasses. Continue stirring until well mixed, and then drink while the tonic is still warm.
Alternately, instead of drinking, comb through the hair and leave on for 10 to 20 minutes.
8 Recipes for Cooking with Blackstrap Molasses
If you want to start using blackstrap molasses in your cooking, try some of these recipes, but don’t be afraid to experiment yourself.
You can swap it in for sweeteners in other recipes, but remember that it’s more bitter than typical sugar or honey, so you may need to combine it or go half and half.
These cookies are a delicious way to satisfy any sweet craving you might have, without all the excess sugar!
Spice up breakfast with these soft cookies that have a rich, amber taste.
It’s easy to make these cookies dairy-free if you have food sensitivities or allergies. Just swap the butter for ghee and enjoy these melt in your mouth delights.
Want to get a little creative and work your blackstrap molasses into a warm and soothing beverage? Try adding it to milk!
Carrot cake can step aside, as this one will literally take the cake on most delicious dessert with hidden health benefits.
Enjoy a rich dark velvety chocolate beverage that also happens to be rich in health-supportive minerals. Oh yeah, and cocoa is high in antioxidants, too.
Make breakfast more exciting by preparing this sweet and nutty oatmeal dish.
Banana bread is a classic, but when paired with the gooey goodness of molasses, you get a caramelized gingerbread treat that will have you going back for seconds.
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- Rowe JB, Bobadilla M, Fernandez A, Encarnacion JC, Preston TR. Molasses toxicity in cattle: rumen fermentation and blood glucose entry rates associated with this condition (1977) Trop Anim Prod. 1977;4:78–89.
Aimee McNew, MNT, CNTP, is a certified nutritionist who specializes in women’s health, thyroid problems, infertility, and digestive wellness. She ate her way back to health using a Paleo diet, lost 80 pounds, and had a healthy baby after numerous miscarriages. She focuses on simple nutrition practices that promote long-lasting results.