6 Health Benefits & Uses of Blackstrap Molasses

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

Blackstrap molasses is a nourishing sweetener containing a considerable amount of nutrients that are essential for the functioning of the body. The most important health benefits of blackstrap molasses include its ability to reduce anxiety and stress, regulate diabetes, strengthen bone mineral density, prevent inflammation, and reduce signs of aging, and potential to prevent cancer among others.

The appearance of blackstrap molasses may not make you want to dig in, but the nutritional content of this sugarcane by-product has been well studied and it has been shown to have many potential health benefits for those who incorporate it into their diet.

What is Blackstrap Molasses?

Blackstrap molasses is a by-product of a process that turns sugarcane or sugar beets into sugar. Blackstrap molasses is unusual due to its viscous nature and extremely potent taste. Molasses from beet sugar usually tastes foul, but sugarcane molasses is commonly used as a sweetening agent in other foods.

The creation of sugar is a bit of a complex process and requires a decent amount of sugarcane processing. The first step is mashing sugar cane and then boiling it, which leads to cane syrup. If you boil this mixture for the second time, you can create molasses. Blackstrap molasses is the result of the third round of boiling. This thick, viscous material is dark brown, almost black, and contains many of the nutrients that don’t make their way into sugar. As you may know, pure sugar has little nutritional benefit and is seen as a risk factor for certain conditions. [1]

However, blackstrap molasses has the lowest sugar content out of sugar, cane syrup or molasses, which leaves it with more of a bittersweet taste, as most of the sugar crystals have been removed. Blackstrap molasses has been widely used for culinary applications and traditional medicine in various parts of the world. It has gained a reputation as a “superfood”, and many studies have shown that this unique substance can be very good for your overall health. It is commonly used as a replacement for sugar in a variety of recipes.

Close-up image of molasses in a bowl

Molasses in a bowl Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Blackstrap Molasses Nutrition

Blackstrap molasses contains a rich supply of nutrients, including high levels of magnesium, manganese, calcium, and vitamin B6, as well as good amounts of copper and protein. It also contains 60 calories in a single tablespoon, as well as a small amount of sugar. There are no fats or dietary fiber found in blackstrap molasses. [2]

It is generally considered safe to consume 1 tablespoon (20ml) every morning with a cup of water if you are trying to make it a regular part of your health regimen. [3]

Blackstrap Molasses Benefits

Blackstrap molasses can be used for skin and hair care, digestive processes, blood sugar regulation, cholesterol controlling, circulation issues, and even metabolic functions!

Skin Care

Blackstrap molasses is a rich source of iron and magnesium, two minerals that are often overlooked in the treatment of the skin. By helping to eliminate these mineral  [4]deficiencies, molasses can help to deal with pale skin, cell renewal, and thus deliver glowing skin and a youthful appearance. [5]

Prevents Gray Hair

Traditional use of this molasses variety includes its application as a treatment for gray hair. The mineral content is thought to strengthen follicles and hair strands, leading to less breakage and decreasing inflammatory conditions on the scalp that leads to hair loss. [6]

Anticancer Potential

Blackstrap molasses is known to be packed with a variety of nutrients including antioxidants that help protect against oxidative damage, especially when compared to regular purified sugar. [7]

According to a paper published in the [8]Journal of Carcinogenesis, this form of molasses can help counter a deficiency of several minerals such as selenium, potassium, zinc, etc. that may increase the risk of cancer. The study also notes that the incidence of cancer amongst raw brown sugar-consuming cane plantation workers was rare.

This syrup is also a source of linoleic acid as well as amino acid, both of which can exert anti-tumor effects, as suggested by the research. The presence of phenolic compounds also points towards its anticancer potential.

Reduces Stress

Some of the vitamins found in this molasses, namely B6, can affect the metabolism in numerous ways, including the management of hormones. By stimulating the release of serotonin in the brain, this sugary treat can help eliminate excess stress hormones and relieve anxiety. The presence of minerals such as zinc, potassium, iron, and magnesium also help in combating stress by combating mineral deficiency. [9]

Helps Alleviate Inflammation

Often recommended for people with joint or chronic pain, blackstrap molasses can help ease swelling and regulate the immune response of the body.

Ease Premenstrual Syndrome

Women who suffer from mood swings, cramps, and anxiety can employ this syrup in various ways to alleviate such premenstrual syndrome symptoms. Including it as a part of the regular diet should prove helpful. [10]

Diabetes Control

This is an ideal sugar replacement, and while it must be used in moderation, it can prevent some of the spikes and drops in blood sugar that people with diabetes experience when consuming normal sugar. A study by the European Journal of Nutrition states that filtered sugarcane molasses concentrate shows promise as insulin reducing agents that lessen the load on the pancreatic beta cells.  [11]

Where to buy Blackstrap Molasses?

You can buy blackstrap molasses in many groceries, gourmet, and natural food stores since it is widely popular and easy to produce. Herbalists and natural health practitioners also carry it.

It has also become a staple of certain food production methods, such as brown sugar. Blackstrap molasses is available in local whole food stores around the world, as well as big-box stores and national chains, such as Walmart.

Blackstrap Molasses Side Effects

While blackstrap molasses is healthier than other forms of sugar, such as cane syrup or regular molasses, there are still some potential side effects such as problems with diabetes, gastrointestinal distress, weight gain, and increased menstrual bleeding that you need to consider. When first using this substance, try a small amount and monitor your body’s response, before adding more to your daily diet.

  • Diabetes – Consuming small amounts of this molasses variety may deliver less sugar than cane syrup or basic white sugar, but it can still be a problem for people suffering from diabetes, or those at high risk, if not used in moderation.
  • Stomach Issues – For some people, the concentrated flavor and sugar load of blackstrap molasses don’t agree with their stomach, resulting in cramping, nausea or diarrhea.
  • Weight Gain – Although certain people suggest blackstrap molasses for losing weight, consuming an excess will result in weight gain, particularly if those extra calories are not accounted for in your diet and exercise regimen.
  • Bleeding – Some women have reported an increase in menstrual bleeding when using this molasses variety, while other women actually use this as a natural remedy for heavy periods.
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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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