What is blackstrap molasses?
Blackstrap molasses is a by-product of the extraction of refined sugar from sugar cane. It is a dark rich syrup produced after the cane has been boiled three times and most of the sugar crystals have been extracted. It has a deep bitter-sweet, malty taste. Unlike sugar, which contains zero nutrients, blackstrap molasses is rich in iron, calcium, trace minerals and the B vitamins.
I consider blackstrap molasses to be a superfood, as it is nutrient dense and has the potential to benefit the heart health, nourish the blood and strengthen bones, improve metabolism and the functioning of the nervous system.
Energy and nerve functioning
“It contains vitamins B-1, B-3, B-5 and B-6 — all water-soluble nutrients that support your metabolism.”¹ B vitamins nourish the nervous system, strengthen cell membranes, and help to prevent the build-up of homocysteine, a substance linked to heart disease and osteoporosis.
Blackstrap molasses is often recommended as an iron tonic for women during menstruation and pregnancy, and for anaemia. Iron helps build the red blood cells that transport oxygen to all parts of the body, and is necessary for cellular energy production and metabolism. Blackstrap molasses can be of particular benefit for people who suffer constipation when they take most brands of commercial iron tonics and supplements.
It is also rich in many bone-building minerals. Blackstrap molasses is rich in calcium, which also promotes a healthy gut, helps maintain a steady heartbeat and enhances the function of the nervous system. Also important for bone health are magnesium, potassium and the trace minerals manganese, zinc, copper, selenium and chromium.
Taking Blackstrap Molasses
Blackstrap molasses is an energy booster and a natural laxative, so it is best taken early in the day. Look for unsulphured molasses to ensure you are getting true blackstrap molasses with the full complement of nutrients.
It is also important to remember that it is a sweetener and should be used in moderation. “Of the 5 grams of carbohydrates in a teaspoon of molasses, approximately 3.5 grams come from simple sugars, such as sucrose, glucose and fructose. “²
Add a tablespoon to stews and casseroles, in baked goods, sweet syrups and savoury dressings, or as a spread on toast.
Or try making Blackstrap molasses tea:
Just add hot water to 1 teaspoon of blackstrap molasses with freshly grated ginger and lemon peel or juice. If you are taking this as an iron tonic add orange juice as Vitamin C assists with the uptake of iron. This is a nice tea for menstrual or abdominal cramping.
(1, 2) Nutrients in One Teaspoon of Molasses. Online article. Available at: http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/nutrients-one-teaspoon-molasses-2224.html (accessed 19 February, 2018)
Image: By Badagnani (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons