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Molasses is a thick, dark syrup extracted from sugar cane or sugar beets after they have been processed to make table sugar. Long used in baking and as an alternative sweetener, molasses has been shown to provide numerous health benefits. Benefits of molasses consumption, blackstrap molasses in particular, are that it is rich in multiple essential minerals such as iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium, selenium, and chromium, as well as in vitamin B₆. These minerals are necessary for the formation of red blood cells, for bone health, and for optimum muscle function. In addition, as one teaspoon of blackstrap molasses contains 100 percent of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of chromium, it has been linked to a reduced risk of Type II diabetes and weight gain.
Blackstrap molasses is created when the sugar cane used to make crystallized sucrose, or table sugar, is boiled three times so that the residual sugar content is reduced. Though the sugar content is similar to that of table sugar, the mineral and vitamin content is much higher. One of the benefits of molasses consumption in this form is that it supplies up to 20 percent of the RDA of minerals like iron, calcium, and potassium.
Iron, a component of hemoglobin in blood, is known for its role in helping red blood cells transport oxygen throughout the body, oxygen that is needed for tissue survival and cell metabolism. It is also found in muscle cells in myoglobin, which help muscle to store oxygen. A lack of iron can lead to anemia, a red blood cell deficiency, and therefore one of the benefits of molasses as an iron supplement is that it can reduce one’s risk of this condition.
Getting more calcium, potassium, and magnesium in one’s diet is another of the benefits of molasses consumption. These minerals are involved in maintaining the balance between electrolytes and water in the body’s cells, as well as in initiating muscle contractions. Active individuals who require the replenishment of these minerals in the body, which are depleted during an intense workout, can supplement with blackstrap molasses. In addition, the high calcium content means that one of the benefits of molasses as a dietary supplement is that it can improve bone health and reduce one’s risk of osteoporosis.
Another benefit of molasses as a supplement is that it is high in the mineral chromium. Recent studies have indicated that chromium helps individuals at risk for diabetes improve their tolerance of glucose and therefore more easily metabolize sugar. Adding a teaspoon of blackstrap molasses instead of table sugar or other sweetener to foods and beverages like coffee may therefore benefit diabetics in two respects. It can help them to process sugar while at the same time taking the place of sugar in the diet.
An additional benefit of molasses consumption is that it supplies vitamin B₆. This vitamin is involved in numerous bodily processes, from metabolizing the amino acids in protein to digesting fats to synthesizing hemoglobin. As B₆ is a water-soluble vitamin, meaning that it is excreted in urine rather than stored in the body, supplementation is often necessary to make up for potential deficiencies in the diet. Adding blackstrap molasses to the diet can increase one’s intake of this essential vitamin as well as the minerals it contains.
My child suffers from Blount's disease. She already had surgery. How can the use of molasses help with her full recovery?
Growing up as a child in Trinidad, molasses was a treat for us. My uncle worked on the railway, and often collected molasses from the leaking tankers and brought home large cans of it. We shared it with our neighbours.
Molasses was in everything: soups, drinks, breads, cakes and especially candies. In the islands, some people put molasses in homemade medicinal potions and molasses candies are still popular in the islands and are exported to other parts of the world.
The favorite and most popular goes by the name tooluum and is in the West Indian stores. I make molasses candies for my children and grandchildren who were born in Canada and the US and they look forward to it.
I suffer from type 2 diabetes and make sure I take my sugar fix via my home made molasses candy. It satisfies my sweet cravings, and I also use it in my tea and oatmeal cereal. When carefully measured, it does not have a long standing effect on my blood sugar levels.
I was told about the nutritional values of molasses as a child and was happy to see it in your article.