The thick viscous syrup we call blackstrap molasses that provides the robust bittersweet flavor to baked beans and gingerbread is available throughout the year.
Blackstrap molasses is just one type of molasses, the dark liquid byproduct of the process of refining sugar cane into table sugar. It is made from the third boiling of the sugar syrup and is therefore the concentrated byproduct left over after the sugar’s sucrose has been crystallized.
Health Benefits - Blackstrap molasses is a sweetener that is actually good for you. Unlike refined white sugar and corn syrup, which are stripped of virtually all nutrients except simple carbohydrates, or artificial sweeteners like saccharine or aspartame, which not only provide no useful nutrients but have been shown to cause health problems in sensitive individuals, blackstrap molasses is a healthful sweetener that contains significant amounts of a variety of minerals that promote your health.
Iron for Energy - In addition to providing quickly assimilated carbohydrates, blackstrap molasses can increase your energy by helping to replenish your iron stores. Blackstrap molasses is a very good source of iron. Particularly for menstruating women, who are more at risk for iron deficiency, boosting iron stores with blackstrap molasses is a good idea--especially because, in comparison to red meat, a well known source of iron, blackstrap molasses provides more iron for less calories and is totally fat-free. Iron is an integral component of hemoglobin, which transports oxygen from the lungs to all body cells, and is also part of key enzyme systems for energy production and metabolism. And, if you're pregnant or lactating, your needs for iron increase. Growing children and adolescents also have increased needs for iron. Just 2 teaspoons of blackstrap molasses will sweetly provide you with 13.3% of the daily recommended value for iron.
A Spoonful of Molasses Helps Your Calcium Needs Go Down
Blackstrap molasses is a very good source of calcium. Calcium, one of the most important minerals in the body, is involved in a variety of physiological activities essential to life, including the ability of the heart and other muscles to contract, blood clotting, the conduction of nerve impulses to and from the brain, regulation of enzyme activity, and cell membrane function. Calcium is needed to form and maintain strong bones and teeth during youth and adolescence, and to help prevent the loss of bone that can occur during menopause and as a result of rheumatoid arthritis. Calcium binds to and removes toxins from the colon, thus reducing the risk of colon cancer, and because it is involved in nerve conduction, may help prevent migraine attacks. Two teaspoons of blackstrap molasses will meet 11.8% of your daily needs for calcium.
An Energizing Mineral-Dense Sweetener
Molasses is also an excellent source of copper and manganese and a very good source of potassium, and magnesium.
Copper, an essential component of many enzymes, plays a role in a wide range of physiological processes including iron utilization, elimination of free radicals, development of bone and connective tissue, and the production of the skin and hair pigment called melanin. Numerous health problems can develop when copper intake is inadequate, including iron deficiency anemia, ruptured blood vessels, osteoporosis, joint problems such as rheumatoid arthritis, brain disturbances, elevated LDL (bad) cholesterol and reduced HDL (good) cholesterol levels, irregular heartbeat, and increased susceptibility to infections. Using two teaspoons of blackstrap molasses to sweeten your morning cereal and the coffee or tea you drink during the day will supply you with 14.0% of the daily recommended value for copper.
That same amount of blackstrap molasses will also provide you with 18.0% of the day's needs for manganese. This trace mineral helps produce energy from protein and carbohydrates, and is involved in the synthesis of fatty acids that are important for a healthy nervous system and in the production of cholesterol that is used by the body to produce sex hormones. Manganese is also a critical component of an important antioxidant enzyme called superoxide dismutase. Superoxide dismutase (SOD) is found exclusively inside the body's mitochondria (the oxygen-based energy factories inside most of our cells) where it provides protection against damage from the free radicals produced during energy production.
Like calcium, potassium plays an important role in muscle contraction and nerve transmission. When potassium is deficient in the diet, activity of both muscles and nerves can become compromised. Potassium is an especially important mineral for atheletes since it is involved in carbohydrate storage for use by muscles as fuel and is also important in maintaining the body’s proper electrolyte and acid-base (pH) balance. When potassium levels drop too low, muscles get weak, and athletes tire more easily during exercise, as potassium deficiency causes a decrease in glycogen (the fuel used by exercising muscles) storage. Simply by adding two teaspoons of blackstrap molasses to your morning smoothie, you can supply 9.7% of your potassium needs for the day along with a healthy dose of carbohydrates to burn.
Calcium's balancing major mineral, magnesium is also necessary for healthy bones and energy production. About two-thirds of the magnesium in the human body is found in our bones. Some helps give bones their physical structure, while the rest is found on the surface of the bone where it is stored for the body to draw upon as needed. Magnesium, by balancing calcium, helps regulate nerve and muscle tone. In many nerve cells, magnesium serves as Nature's own calcium channel blocker, preventing calcium from rushing into the nerve cell and activating the nerve. By blocking calcium's entry, magnesium keeps our nerves (and the blood vessels and muscles they ennervate) relaxed. If our diet provides us with too little magnesium, however, calcium can gain free entry, and the nerve cell can become overactivated, sending too many messages and causing excessive contraction. Insufficient magnesium can thus contribute to high blood pressure, muscle spasms (including spasms of the heart muscle or the spasms of the airways symptomatic of asthma), and migraine headaches, as well as muscle cramps, tension, soreness and fatigue. In two teaspoons of blackstrap molasses, you will receive 7.3% of the daily value for magnesium.
Switching from nutrient-poor sweeteners like white sugar or corn syrup, or from potentially harmful fake sweeteners like aspartame or saccharin to nutrient-dense blackstrap molasses is one simple way that eating healthy can sweeten your life.
The truth behind the phrase “slow as molasses” becomes apparent when you reflect on molasses’s thick, viscous, syrupy texture. Featuring a robust bittersweet flavor, blackstrap molasses helps create the distinctive taste of dishes such as baked beans and gingerbread. Blackstrap molasses is very dark in color, having a black-brown hue.
Blackstrap molasses is just one type of molasses, the dark liquid that is the byproduct of the process of refining sugar cane into table sugar. Blackstrap molasses is made from the third boiling of the sugar syrup and is therefore the concentrated byproduct left over after the sugar’s sucrose has been crystallized.
Molasses has been imported into the United States from the Caribbean Islands since the time of the early colonists. In fact, it was the most popular sweetener used until the late 19th century since it was much more affordable than refined sugar, which was very expensive at that time.
In some respects, molasses has had a rather sticky history with at least two important historical events centering around this sweet food product. The first is the Molasses Act of 1733, a tariff passed by England to try to discourage the colonists from trading with areas of the West Indies that were not under British rule. This legislation is thought to be one of the events that catalyzed pre-revolutionary colonial dissent and unrest.
It is not often that a fateful tragedy occurs that centers around a food, but unfortunately, in 1919, one such event did occur. The event is referred to as the Great Molasses Flood and occurred when a molasses storage tank holding over two million gallons of molasses broke, and its sticky content came pouring throughout the city streets of Boston, Massachussetts, traveling as fast as 35 miles per hour and creating a thirty foot tidal wave of sweetener. Unfortunately, this was not a sweet matter as twenty-one people died and significant amounts of property was destroyed.
Blackstrap molasses gained in popularity in the mid-20th century with the advent of the health food movement. Today, the largest producers of molasses are India, Brazil, Taiwan, Thailand, the Phillipines and the United States.
How to Select and Store
How to Enjoy
A Few Quick Serving Ideas:
Adding molasses to baked beans will give them that traditionally robust flavor.
Molasses imparts a wonderfully distinctive flavor to cookies and gingerbread cakes.
Basting chicken or turkey with molasses will give it both a rich color and rich taste.
Blackstrap molasses is not a commonly allergenic food and is not known to contain measurable amounts of goitrogens, oxalates, or purines.
Introduction to Food Rating System Chart
The following shows the nutrients for which this food is either an excellent, very good or good source. Next to the nutrient name you will find the following information: the amount of the nutrient that is included in the noted serving of this food; the
% Daily Value (DV) that that amount represents (similar to other information presented in the website, this DV is calculated for 25-50 year old healthy woman); the nutrient density rating; and, the food's
rating. Underneath the chart is a table that summarizes how the ratings were devised.
Blackstrap Cane Molasses
2.00 tsp - 32.12 calories
Nutrient Amount DV, (%) Nutrient Density, Foods Rating
manganese 0.36 mg 18.0 10.1 excellent
copper 0.28 mg 14.0 7.8 excellent
iron 2.39 mg 13.3 7.4 very good
calcium 117.53 mg 11.8 6.6 very good
potassium 340.57 mg 9.7 5.5 very good
magnesium 29.38 mg 7.3 4.1 very good
vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) 0.10 mg 5.0 2.8 good
selenium 2.43 mcg 3.5 1.9 good
Foods Rating Rule
excellent DV>=75% OR Density>=7.6 AND DV>=10%
very good DV>=50% OR Density>=3.4 AND DV>=5%
good DV>=25% OR Density>=1.5 AND DV>=2.5%
* Aslan Y, Erduran E, Mocan H, et al. Absorption of iron from grape-molasses and ferrous sulfate: a comparative study in normal subjects and subjects with iron deficiency anemia. Turk J Pediatr 1997 Oct-1997 Dec 31;39(4):465-71.
* Ensminger AH, Ensminger, ME, Kondale JE, Robson JRK. Foods & Nutriton Encyclopedia. Pegus Press, Clovis, California.
* Ensminger AH, Esminger M. K. J. e. al. Food for Health: A Nutrition Encyclopedia. Clovis, California: Pegus Press; 1986.
* Fortin, Francois, Editorial Director. The Visual Foods Encyclopedia. Macmillan, New York.
* Wood, Rebecca. The Whole Foods Encyclopedia. New York, NY: Prentice-Hall Press; 1988.
The George Mateljan Foundation