Want to add some flavor to your cooking without adding a whole lot of sugar? Blackstrap molasses may be just the thing! The process of making black strap molasses is a bit involved. Typically, cane sugar (Saccharum officinarum) or sugar beets (Beta vulgaris) are processed several times in order to extract all of their sweetness; this extraction eventually becomes blackstrap molasses. The first boil is done to remove crystallized sugar from the plants, making light molasses and table sugar. The second boil creates dark molasses, and finally, the third boil is where blackstrap molasses is formed. Each boil reduces the sugar content of the mixture, leaving blackstrap molasses with a more bitter flavor.
As far as natural sugars go, blackstrap molasses is a good one to consider. It is lower on the glycemic index than table sugar, meaning the sugar is slower to reach your bloodstream. One tablespoon contains 10 grams of sugar, but it also contains roughly 10% of your daily calcium, magnesium, and potassium. It also contains zinc and vitamin B6.
Additionally, it has 20% of your daily recommended dose of iron, which is why blackstrap molasses can be useful in cases of anemia. Research has found using blackstrap molasses is comparable to taking iron supplements. This can be helpful for women in most stages of life as it provides a natural source of iron. Because of its mineral content, it can support healthy bones, and it may even help reduce hair loss. Blackstrap molasses has been used to deal with constipation as it can help loosen stools when ingested.
It’s a rich source of antioxidants available for purchase at most grocery stores or natural health stores. Blackstrap molasses can be used to sweeten hot cereals or drinks, or added to baked goods. It’s important to note molasses can be unsulfured or treated with sulfur dioxide. Most commercially available molasses is unsulfured. This should be used in moderation in your diet as it is a sweetener. It does contain acrylamide, which is potentially dangerous, due to being cooked several times, so blackstrap molasses should be used only in small amounts.
Almohanna, Hind M, et al. 2019. “The Role of Vitamins and Minerals in Hair Loss: A Review.” Dermatology and therapy, 9(1): 51-70. doi:10.1007/s13555-018-0278-6
Dehghani, S. M., Bahroloolomifard, M. S., Yousefi, G., Pasdaran, A., & Hamedi, A. 2019. “A Randomized Controlled Double Blinded Trial to Evaluate Efficacy of Oral Administration of Black Strap Molasses (Sugarcane Extract) in Comparison with Polyethylene Glycol on Pediatric Functional Constipation.” Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 111845. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2019.111845
Gardner, Karen. N.D. “What is the Difference Between Blackstrap Molasses and Unsulphured Molasses?” Revised Nov. 15, 2022. https://www.livestrong.com/article/507716-what-is-the-difference-between-blackstrap-molasses-unsulphured-molasses/
Jain, Rahi, and Padma Venkatasubramanian. 2017. “Sugarcane Molasses – A Potential Dietary Supplement in the Management of Iron Deficiency Anemia.” Journal of Dietary Supplements vol. 14,5: 589-598. doi:10.1080/19390211.2016.1269145
U.S. Department of Agriculture. N.D. “Blackstrap Molasses.” Revised May, 5, 2018. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/497778/nutrients
Jain, R., & Venkatasubramanian, P. 2017. “Sugarcane Molasses – A Potential Dietary Supplement in the Management of Iron Deficiency Anemia.” Journal of Dietary Supplements, 14(5): 589–598. doi:10.1080/19390211.2016.1269145
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