Molasses - What is molasses? and Everything you need to know about it

The health benefits of molasses include relief from menstruation-related problems, obesity, diabetes, stress, cancer, enlarged prostate, acne, and other skin disorders. It also provides relief from constipation, headaches, and anemia. It helps improve bone and hair health, maintain electrolyte balance, sexual health, the functioning of the nervous system, and speeds wound healing. It also helps strengthen the immune system, maintain healthy levels of hemoglobin, and improve the formation of new cells in the body.

Molasses health benefits includes supporting healthier bones, relieving acne, combatting frizzy hair, maintaining healthy nervous system, preventing fatigue and headaches and treating osteoarthritis. Other benefits includes healing burns and minor injuries, boosting energy levels, treating constipation, alleviating blood pressure, easing menstrual discomfort and reducing fat accumulation.

Blackstrap molasses is a byproduct of sugar cane’s refining process. Sugar cane is mashed to create juice, and then boiled once to create cane syrup. A second boiling creates molasses.
After this syrup has been boiled a third time, a dark viscous liquid emerges known to Americans as blackstrap molasses. It has the lowest sugar content of any sugar cane product.


What is molasses?

Molasses is a sweetener that is formed as a byproduct of the sugar-making process.
First, sugar cane or sugar beets are crushed and the juice is extracted.
The juice is then boiled down to form sugar crystals, which are removed from the liquid. Molasses is the thick, brown syrup left after the sugar has been removed from the juice.

This process is repeated several times, and each time a different type of molasses is produced.

Molasses is a thick syrup made during the sugar-making process. It comes from crushed sugar cane or sugar beets.


Types of Molasses

Molasses is a viscous product derived from refining sugar beets or sugarcane into sugar. The end product may vary depending on the method of extraction, amount of sugar and the age of the plant. Many people use molasses as a natural sweetener or to satisfy their sweet cravings. The different types of molasses include:

  • Blackstrap Molasses
    It is obtained from raw cane sugar and canned sugar refining. It is also known as final molasses in cane mills and refinery molasses in a refinery setting.
  • Light Molasses
    This is the syrup made from the first boiling. It is the lightest in color and sweetest in taste. It is most commonly used in baking.
  • Dark Molasses
    This is the type created from the second boiling. It's thicker, darker and less sweet. It can also be used in baking, but produces a more distinct color and flavor.
  • Cane Molasses: This is a by-product of the refining of sugar from sugar cane juice and beet molasses is a by-product of the extraction of sucrose from sugar beets.
  • Un-Sulfured and Sulfured
    Molasses labeled as "sulfured" has sulfur dioxide added to it. Sulfur dioxide acts as a preservative and prevents it from spoiling.

    Sulfured varieties tend to be less sweet than un-sulfured products.

  • Hydrol: Molasses obtained from starch hydrolysis is called a hydrol.


Nutritional Value of Molasses

Molasses contains a number of essential minerals such as calcium, magnesium, manganese, potassium, copper, iron, phosphorus, chromium, cobalt, and sodium. It is a good source of energy and carbohydrates and it contains sugars as well. In addition to this, it offers various vitamins such as niacin (vitamin B-3), vitamin B-6, thiamine, and riboflavin. It is very low in both fat and fiber.

Here are the nutrients you can find in 40 grams, or about two tablespoons:

  • Vitamin B6: 14% of the RDI.
  • Calcium: 8% of the RDI.
  • Potassium: 16% of the RDI.
  • Copper: 10% of the RDI.
  • Iron: 10% of the RDI.
  • Magnesium: 24% of the RDI.
  • Manganese: 30% of the RDI.
  • Selenium: 10% of the RDI

Two tablespoons also contain about 116 calories, all of which come from carbs - mostly sugar.


Health Benefits of Molasses

Blackstrap molasses is a nourishing sweetener containing a considerable amount of nutrients that are essential for the functioning of the body. Refined white sugar, on the other hand, contains simple carbohydrates and other components like aspartame, which is not very healthy for the body.

  • Diabetes-Friendly Sweetener
    If you have diabetes and a sweet tooth, you have a bit of a conundrum. While blackstrap molasses is derived from sugar and adds as many carbohydrates as other sugars, it may be digested more slowly, which may help stabilize blood sugar.
  • Healthier Bones
    Blackstrap molasses is an excellent source of calcium that promotes good bone health, aids in the removal of toxins from the colon, boosts the function of the enzyme system. The high calcium content is good for maintaining strong and healthy teeth and bones. The calcium content helps prevent bones diseases that are caused by menopause. Aside from healthy bone structure, calcium also aids muscular contraction in the body.
  • Good for the Blood
    People with anemia — a condition where your body doesn’t have enough red blood cells — often feel tired and weak. One type of anemia is caused by a lack of iron in the diet.Blackstrap molasses is a good source of iron. About 5 tablespoons of blackstrap molasses contains 95 percent of your daily allowance of iron.Besides adding it into recipes, you can add it to hot water and drink warm or cold as a dietary supplement.

  • Relieves Acne
    Nobody likes dealing with acne and spots all over the skin. Fortunately, molasses is rich in lactic acid, a component that relieves the symptoms of acne. Additionally, the lactic acid also plays a crucial role in the metabolism of carbohydrates. Using molasses is a simple, non-toxic and non-allergic alternative to using skincare products.  You may use it to treat acne and other kinds of skin problems. Aside from molasses, you can also add other lactic acid-rich foods in your diets such as apples, sour milk, and tomato juice.

  • Packed with Potassium
    Bananas may be king when it comes to potassium, but blackstrap molasses is also packed with the stuff. Try mixing blackstrap molasses in with baked beans, or even use it as a basting glaze on chicken, turkey, or other meats. A spoonful straight can also give you a quick boost.

  • Heart Health
    Molasses is a good source of potassium, which promotes normal blood pressure and helps maintain heart health.
    Although this has yet to be studied in humans, rat studies have shown that supplementing with molasses can help increase HDL or "good" cholesterol.
    Healthy levels of HDL cholesterol may protect against heart disease and stroke.

  • Antioxidant Properties
    Research studies have shown that blackstrap molasses contains the highest amount of antioxidants as compared to refined sugar, corn syrup, raw cane sugar, and other readily available sweeteners. These antioxidants protect the body against the oxidative damage associated with cancer, cardiovascular disorders, and degenerative diseases. This makes it a much better alternative to refined sugar.

  • Hair De-Frizzer
    Along with providing your body with important minerals, blackstrap molasses has been used to remove the frizziness in bleached, permed, or colored hair.
    While pouring the sticky syrup directly into your hair is a pretty bad idea, it can be mixed with warm water and applied to the hair for 15 minutes. It can also be combined with other hair-healthy ingredients like your daily shampoo or coconut milk. 

  • Maintains Healthy Nervous System
    It is loaded with magnesium which aids in the functioning of the nervous system. Magnesium also balances the amount of calcium in the body, allowing the blood vessels and nerves to relax. The speedy and excess flow of calcium transmission can cause excess nerve contraction. While a magnesium deficiency can lead to muscle cramps, hypertension, and muscle spasms.

  • Prevents Menstrual Cramps
    Molasses is a good source of iron and is very effective for menstruating women who are at major risk of iron deficiency due to blood loss.With no fat and very few calories, it is a better alternative for contributing iron to the body as compared to other fatty sources like red meat. Iron prevents various disorders like menorrhagia which causes excessive blood flow for a longer duration during menstruation.The minerals such as magnesium and calcium present in it help prevent the clotting of blood, relieve menstrual cramps, and maintain the health of uterine muscles. It is a healthy alternative, as compared to other medications for menstrual discomfort which might have certain side effects.

  • Prevents Fatigue and Headache
    Blackstrap molasses is an excellent source of vitamins and minerals including pantothenic acid and vitamin B6. Deficiency in these vitamins can trigger headaches, stress, asthma, and fatigue. Including molasses in your diet can help the body receive these required minerals and vitamins, allowing you to maintain overall good health.

  • Manages Weight
    The polyphenols present in molasses have antioxidant effects which may prove effective in reducing obesity and managing weight.In the investigation conducted to assess the impact of molasses on a high-fat diet, it was evident that its extract helps in lowering body weight and fat content by reducing the absorption of calories in the body.

  • Heals Burns and Minor Injuries
    You can apply molasses topically on the skin to promote the growth of healthy tissues. This makes molasses an excellent solution to treating minor injuries and burns. However, remember to clean the injured area thoroughly to prevent infections. Apply a thin coat of molasses and cover it with a dry, clean bandage.

  • Improves Sexual Health
    Blackstrap molasses is rich in the trace mineral manganese, which helps in the healthy production of sex hormones. [8] It plays a vital role in the functioning of the nervous system, prevention of blood clots, and production of energy from proteins and carbohydrates. A deficiency of manganese can lead to infertility, general fatigue, and weak bones.

  • Boosts Energy Levels
    Are you always tired or unable to workout because of fatigue? Molasses contains essential minerals that strengthen and maintains bones and muscles. Including molasses in your diet will allow you to workout for extended periods of time without feeling tired. The magnesium content also prevents fatigue and reduces muscle cramps.

  • Treats Constipation
    Molasses has been proven to be valuable in treating constipation. Research studies have shown that milk and molasses enemas are as effective as sodium phosphate enemas given in the pediatric emergency department to cure constipation.It is also noteworthy that curing constipation with sodium phosphate requires an additional rectal treatment. However, it is not required after a treatment done with milk and molasses enemas, when consumed orally.

  • Reduces Fat Accumulation
    It contains chromium that reduces the risk of developing diabetes, high cholesterol levels, and heart troubles. It also prevents the development of other inflammation-induced diseases that can be potentially dangerous for your health. Excess accumulation of fat and lid in the bloodstream can be hazardous to your health.

  • Prevents Hypokalemia
    Molasses contains the essential mineral potassium, which is required for the proper functioning of cells.It helps in maintaining the acid-base balance of the body and prevents heat exhaustion. Potassium also plays an important role in nerve and muscle contraction and helps to maintain cardiac health. Adequate intake of potassium-rich foods like molasses helps prevent disorders like hypokalemia and reduces blood pressure as well. 

  • Increases Red Blood Cell Formation
    Molasses is rich in copper, which aids in eradicating free radicals from the body.It helps in the absorption of iron, the formation of red blood cells and maintains a healthy immune system. A deficiency of copper can result in anemia, thyroid problems, cardiac arrhythmia, and osteoporosis.

  • Treats Cancer
    Apart from several vitamins and minerals, blackstrap molasses also contains selenium, which is beneficial in the treatment of cancer.


Uses of Black Molasses

  • Culinary Uses
    Molasses is quite popular for its use in baked goods like pies, gingerbread, and baked beans. It is also used in the manufacturing of rum, which is one of the reasons that rum is so popular in the areas where sugarcane cultivation and molasses production is in abundance. It is also utilized in providing rich, dark texture and flavor to brown sugar.
  • Other Uses
    It has been effectively used for animal feeds. It is a source of carbon and is effectively used in horticulture to feed the microbes and boost the microbial activity of the soil.Beet molasses is also used to make fertilizer.

    It is a beneficial sweetener that is rich in naturally available micro and macronutrients.

    Some people might develop allergic reactions due to a sensitivity towards the sulfite present in sulfured molasses. Unsulfured molasses is free of sulfur dioxide and safe to use in such cases. However, it is always advisable to obtain medical consent before considering it as a therapeutic remedy for various medical conditions.


How to Use Molasses

Many people enjoy using molasses as a natural sweetener. Some common ways to use the sugary liquid include:

  • Apply molasses topically on the skin or hair to reduce inflammation or combat fizziness. Be sure to dilute the mixture. Molasses has a dark color with means it might leave some color behind.
  • Use molasses as a natural sweetener for smoothies and milkshakes. This is a great way to sneak in extra nutrients
  • Add molasses in dressing and vinaigrettes to add more flavor
  • Use a couple of tablespoons of molasses in meat marinades
  • Prepare delicious sauces using the sugary liquid


Side effects

Molasses is safe for most people when consumed in moderation.

Nevertheless, while it can be a good alternative to refined sugar, an excess intake of any added sugar can have negative health effects.

People with diabetes may also want to avoid it.

Additionally, molasses can cause digestive problems. Consuming large amounts can cause loose stools or diarrhea.

If you have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or experience digestive discomfort, you may want to avoid this syrup.

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