When you hear the word “molasses,” what comes to mind? Maybe you immediately picture the slowly-moving, syrupy-sweet brown liquid. Maybe you think of holiday gingerbread. Perhaps you think of your favorite rich desserts. In all of these musings, do you think of molasses as a natural healing tonic?
Most people probably don’t. Molasses is more thought of as a sugar than as a healer. However, blackstrap molasses is one type of molasses that is much more than just a sweetener. In fact, it may actually help to prevent and remedy certain ailments, thanks to its nutritional properties.
What is blackstrap molasses?
Blackstrap molasses is what’s left over when sugarcane is processed into refined sugar. It is boiled three times, so it’s very concentrated, thick, dark and potent. It is pretty high on the glycemic index, meaning it should be used in moderation and diabetics should be very careful when consuming it.
This substance, syrupy-sweet as it is, is actually healthy and has some pretty astounding nutritional properties. It contains a wealth of minerals, including calcium, copper, chromium, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium and selenium. It is also a source of vitamin B6, an important vitamin for many systems in the body. Traditionally, blackstrap molasses has been used as an all-purpose health tonic, used by families for a wide array of ailments. Many of those uses still make sense today.
The following are eight ailments that could be benefitted by the use of blackstrap molasses:
Thanks to its nutritional content, blackstrap molasses has significant anti-inflammatory properties. Eating (or drinking) a bit of molasses now and then can help to keep chronic inflammation at bay throughout your body. This, in turn, can prevent many ailments from taking hold, as unchecked inflammation is a major risk factor for many diseases.
2. Arthritis pain
Because it can help reduce inflammation, blackstrap molasses may be very useful in relieving arthritis symptoms. It can help to relieve aching joints by reducing swelling, and its mineral content helps to nourish bones and tissues. Having a tablespoon of blackstrap molasses in a glass of water (or a smoothie) each day may help sufferers of arthritis to experience less pain and enjoy a greater quality of life.
3. Iron deficiency
Blackstrap molasses is high in iron and, therefore, it can be a great supplement for anyone who has issues with iron deficiency. This includes pregnant women and people who have been diagnosed with anemia. Just make sure you talk to a health professional you trust before using blackstrap molasses to remedy your iron levels.
4. Menstrual mood swings and pain
The iron content of blackstrap molasses, along with the other minerals it contains, can be highly beneficial to women during menstruation. Women need more iron than men, and if they don’t get enough from the foods they eat, they may experience greater hormonal imbalance during menstruation and the oh-so-fun PMS week that precedes it. Supplementing with blackstrap molasses may help to bring some balance.
Blackstrap molasses may also help your period be less painful, thanks to minerals including magnesium and calcium. Taking blackstrap molasses on a regular basis may result in less excruciating cramps, so try drinking a teaspoon in a mug of hot water.
Supplementing with blackstrap molasses may help to ease constipation, largely because of its high content of magnesium. When your magnesium levels are low, constipation may result. Blackstrap molasses is also soothing to the stomach, and its alkaline nature can help to improve bowel movements over time. Don’t be afraid of its high iron content — this does not mean that blackstrap molasses will make you more constipated (some foods high in iron work this way, others don’t).
6. Skin conditions including acne and eczema
The nutrient density of blackstrap molasses makes it great for your skin. Using blackstrap molasses as a facewash or facemask can help to soften and exfoliate your skin. As it contains lactic acid, it may help to heal breakouts and may improve symptoms of rosacea, eczema and more.
7. Dry, graying or thinning hair
Anecdotal evidence points to the ability of blackstrap molasses to improve hair health. This is probably because of the wealth of minerals in this substance. Using blackstrap molasses as a hair mask may help to soften your hair and infuse it with moisture. It may also help to reduce hair loss in individuals with thinning hair. Additionally, blackstrap molasses contains copper, which is key to producing hair pigment. For this reason, using it regularly may help to reduce hair graying, as well.
8. ADD and ADHD
If the magnesium and calcium balance in your body is off, you may experience mental symptoms such as mood swings, irritability or hyperactivity. The magnesium found in blackstrap molasses, as well as its other minerals and B-vitamins, may help to balance your mood, sharpen your focus and relieve ADD or ADHD symptoms.
How to eat blackstrap molasses
First of all, make sure you purchase high-quality 100 percent blackstrap molasses. You can use it in place of sugar in any baking and dessert recipes — just be ready for a richer flavor! Or, you can add a teaspoon to teas, smoothies or a mug of hot water. Blackstrap molasses is also great in sauces, glazes, and even salad dressings. Use your culinary imagination!
– Tanya Mead