Blackstrap molasses is a sweetener that is actually good for you. Unlike refined white sugar and corn syrup (stripped of virtually all nutrients except simple carbohydrates) or artificial sweeteners like saccharine or aspartame (provide no useful nutrients and 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 (unlike agave: Is Agave Nectar a Health Scam?).
Where Does Molasses Come From?
Many people wonder what molasses is made of. Well, no secret ingredients here, molasses is a by-product from the process that turns sugar beet or cane into sugar.
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.
- Cell membrane function.
- Calcium is needed to form and maintain strong bones and teeth during youth and adolescence.
- 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.
- 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, 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
- The production of the skin and hair pigment called melanin.
Numerous health problems can develop when copper intake is inadequate:
- Iron deficiency anemia
- Ruptured blood vessels
- Joint problems such as rheumatoid arthritis
- Brain disturbances
- Elevated LDL (bad) cholesterol and reduced HDL (good) cholesterol levels
- Irregular heartbeat
- 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
- 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 athletes 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 enervate) relaxed.
If our diet provides us with too little magnesium, however, calcium can gain free entry, and the nerve cell can become over-activated, 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)
- Migraine headaches
- Muscle cramps
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.