Blackstrap molasses is a special type of molasses with a very low glycemic index, making it safe for people with diabetes. It's been used for many centuries as a sweetener, and was a popular trade good in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
Blackstrap molasses is actually the by-product of processing cane sugar into table sugar which is released during the third boiling. It's much more bitter than sugar and honey, but also has a variety of health benefits that other sweeteners don't have.
Unsulphured Molasses Health Benefits
Blackstrap molasses is an excellent source of a variety of vitamins and nutrients, including iron, magnesium, manganese, and potassium.
Blackstrap molasses naturally contains almost half the recommended daily intake of iron.
As you may already know, iron is an important dietary supplement that helps make red blood cells and oxygen circulate through the body. Eating a diet rich in iron makes you feel more energetic and helps your hair and skin remain healthy.
Iron is particularly important for women or children. Women of childbearing age need 18 mg of iron each day, while children need anywhere from 8 to 10 mg, depending on their ages.
Although many foods naturally contain iron, such as beans and red meat, thousands of people are iron deficient and don't even know it. Dry or brittle hair and nails, trouble breathing, an increased heart rate, and anemia are all tell-tale signs of a deficiency.
Blackstrap molasses is also rich in manganese (not to be confused with magnesium), which is essential for general bone health and good blood sugar levels.
Manganese also controls important enzymes in the body, specifically those responsible for the use of ascorbic acid, choline, vitamin C, and vitamin B1.
Humans only have a small amount of manganese naturally in their bodies and so deficiencies of manganese are common in people of all ages. There are many symptoms of a deficiency, including dizziness, nausea, hearing loss, and a rash on the skin.
Women who have reproductive problems may also need to add more manganese to their diets. According to doctors, women need approximately 1.8 mg of manganese per day, while men need 2.3 mg per day.
Fortunately, many fruits and green vegetables are rich in manganese. Ingesting the proper amount can help prevent a variety of different diseases, including osteoporosis, diabetes, and heart disease.
If you need more calcium in your diet, then molasses can be an excellent addition. In fact, two tablespoons of molasses comprises over 10% of the daily calcium amount recommended by doctors.
As you probably already know, calcium helps make your teeth and bones strong. It also improves brain health, helps blood clot properly, and strengthens muscles, including the ones in your heart.
Many factors regulate how well your body uses calcium, so it's important to monitor your medications and make sure this essential nutrient is being properly absorbed. As a benchmark, people over 50 should try to incorporate at least 3 servings of calcium into their day, while those under 50 need 2 servings.
Molasses contains a healthy amount of potassium, which makes muscles stronger and helps prevent arthritis and strokes. It's also an important nutrient for overall cell and nerve health, as well as an essential electrolyte in your body that helps balance blood pressure.
Muscles that cramp or are overly weak may be a sign of potassium deficiency, formally called Hypokalemia. We need about 200 mg of potassium a day and it occurs naturally in many common foods, including bananas, sweet potatoes, and-- of course-- blackstrap molasses!
Magnesium is another plentiful nutrient in blackstrap molasses. It's responsible for many important biochemical reactions in the body, and helps regulate muscle and bone health.
Most men and women should consume around 500 mg of magnesium a day, although most people ingest far less than this amount. This is very problematic since magnesium naturally improves cardiovascular health and can help prevent heart attacks and stroke.
Increasing your magnesium intake can help improve common physical ailments, including menstrual cramps, muscle spasms, and twitching eyelids. Researchers have shown that magnesium also helps reduce the side effects of chronic diseases like asthma and diabetes.
Blackstrap molasses is also rich in copper, which helps your body make red blood cells and keeps your immune system healthy. We don't need huge amounts of copper in our diet-- only around 0.9 milligrams a day- but it's an important nutrient for preventing bone weakness and conditions such as osteoporosis.
Copper also serves as an antioxidant, helping to control the damage done by free radicals in your body. Besides molasses, you can find copper in many common foods, including oysters, nuts, and cocoa.
How to use blackstrap molasses
Blackstrap molasses is an important source of vitamins and nutrients, but how easy is it to incorporate into your diet?
The answer? Very easy! Many health care practitioners simply recommend eating a tablespoon of unsulphured blackstrap molasses with a glass of water each morning. Eating the raw molasses will help the nutrients absorb quickly into your bloodstream.
If you don't like the idea of eating the molasses plain, you can easily add it to a prepared dish. Some people enjoy using blackstrap molasses as a natural sweetener in their tea, cereal, or even coffee. There are also many baked desserts that use molasses as a main ingredient, including cookies, pies, and cakes. Thanks to its strong taste, it's usually only necessary to use a small amount when baking with molasses.
Blackstrap molasses can also be used in savory dishes, such as a stir fry, in baked beans, or on roasted meats.
Hair care with blackstrap molasses
For decades, blackstrap molasses has been used to treat hair and skin. The copper in the molasses is particularly good for hair since it helps improve the quality of individual strands.
Remarkably, it's believed that molasses can reverse gray hair and turn hair back to its original color.
Anyone who has experienced premature balding or shedding may be interested in trying blackstrap molasses for hair growth. It's believed that the vitamins and iron in molasses actually stimulate the follicles and reduce bald patches on the scalp.
Skin care with blackstrap molasses
For skin care, blackstrap molasses is also a popular choice due to its anti-aging properties. You may be able to find products with molasses at your local drugstore, but the best way to use molasses is to apply it directly to the skin.
Simply mix 1 tbsp of molasses with a few drops of water, then smear the mixture on your face. Wait 5 minutes, then rinse thoroughly. The molasses acts as a powerful exfoliant, gently removing dead skin cells and allowing new cells to take their place.
For a more intensive treatment, you can combine molasses with a variety of other kitchen ingredients, from lemon juice to sea salt, and create a DIY face mask. The recipe below contains green tea powder, which helps combat acne and rough patches on the skin.
Blackstrap Molasses Face Mask
1 tbsp blackstrap molasses (unsulphured)
1 tbsp green tea powder
3 drops tea tree oil
Mix all of the ingredients together in a small dish and apply to clean skin. Wait 20 minutes, then wash off the mask thoroughly.
Repeat this process once a week for 3 months and your skin will become smoother and less acne-prone!
carmella on June 22, 2015:
Trying it! First day on my skin.
ElfieFay on May 16, 2015:
Thankyou 4d info.. It help a lot.. Have a nice day ahead n always..
Joyette Helen Fabien from Dominica on December 07, 2014:
This is amazing! I had no idea that molasses was that great. Thanks for sharing.
Cathy Strong on August 08, 2014:
My dog has been suffering from constipation for a long time. Each time he defecated, if at all, like twice a week, the stool was 2 or 3 little hard marbles. After 4 days of 10ml per day of black strap molasses, he got out a big long one, much to his own surprise.
state on July 02, 2014:
Just purchassed a small bottle, to mix with braggs apple cider vinegar, to make a drink for my arthritis, wish me good luck
Jennifer on April 16, 2014:
Also shrinks fibroids.
Alise- Evon on April 04, 2014:
Interesting hub- I never knew it could be good for hair. I might like to try that- is that a topical treatment in addition to just eating it? Thanks.
bobo on December 18, 2013:
bobocan blackstrap molasses cure my blemishes?
Better in Violet (author) from Toronto, Canada on September 24, 2013:
Thanks for reading! Glad you found this info helpful.
Christin Sander from Midwest on September 24, 2013:
I don't like the taste of molasses, but I'll definitely try it on my skin. what an interesting hub voted up!
Schoolmom24 from Oregon on September 24, 2013:
This was so interesting! I have been learning of so many natural healthy remedies lately, but hadn't thought about black strap molasses, which has been touted by our grandmothers and great grandmothers' generations! Now I want to go out and get a bottle. Great, informative hub! Voted up and useful!