The appearance of blackstrap molasses may not make you want to dig in, but the nutritional content of this sugar cane byproduct has been well studied and has been shown to have a number of potential health benefits for those who incorporate it into their diet.
What is Blackstrap Molasses?
The creation of sugar is a bit of a complex process and requires a decent amount of processing of sugar cane. 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 also contains many of the nutrients that don’t make their way into sugar. As you may know, pure sugar has very little nutritional benefit, and can actually be a risk factor for certain conditions.
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 the majority 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 the 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.
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.
Blackstrap Molasses Benefits
The most important health benefits of blackstrap molasses include its ability to reduce anxiety and stress, regulate diabetes, prevent certain types of cancer, strengthen bone mineral density, prevent inflammation and reduce signs of aging, among others.
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 deficiencies, this molasses can deliver glowing skin and a youthful appearance.
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 inflammatory conditions on the scalp that lead to hair loss.
There is good evidence that this sugar cane byproduct does offer some antioxidant defense to the body, meaning that it can help prevent oxidative stress and chronic diseases like cancer and rheumatoid arthritis, among others.
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.
Often recommended for people with joint or chronic pain, blackstrap molasses can help ease swelling and regulate the immune response of the body.
Women who suffer from premenstrual symptoms like mood swings, cramps, and anxiety can rest easy after using this type of molasses on a daily basis around their menstrual period.
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 diabetic patients experience when consuming normal sugar.
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 you need to consider, such as problems with diabetes, gastrointestinal distress, weight gain and increased menstrual bleeding. 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.