Molasses is a dense, viscous byproduct obtained from the processing of sugar cane and sugar beet into table sugar. It derives its name from the Latin word for honey, Mel. Its viscosity and thick texture gave rise to the famous designation of something or someone being “slow as molasses” for any slow-moving thing.
The health benefits of molasses include relief from menstruation-related problems, obesity, diabetes, stress, cancer, enlarged prostate, acne and other skin ailments, constipation, headaches and anemia. It helps to improve bone health, electrolyte balance, hair care, sexual health, functioning of the nervous system, and wound healing. It also helps to strengthen the immune system, maintain healthy levels of hemoglobin and aid in the formation of new cells in the body.
Varieties of Molasses
Blackstrap Molasses: It is obtained from raw cane sugar production and canned sugar refining. It is also known as final molasses in cane mills and refinery molasses in a refinery setting. Although derived from sugar cane, blackstrap is unrefined and considered a healthy supplement thanks to its nutritional profile. Blackstrap Molasses is full of Iron which is great for the blood. As well as the sugar boost for the carbohydrates, energy levels can be restored by the intake of Iron. Black strap molasses is also packed with Calcium, Magnesium, Copper and Potassium. This is beneficial to our bone health, muscle health, connective tissues and the nervous system.
Cane Molasses: This is a byproduct of refining of sugar from sugar cane juice and beet molasses is a byproduct of the extraction of sucrose from sugar beets.
Sulfured Molasses: Molasses is also referred to as sulfured molasses if it has been extracted from young sugarcane and treated with sulfur dioxide for preservation.
Unsulfured molasses: Molasses extracted from ripe sugarcane does not need sulfur and retains its rich and light flavor. This variety is referred to as unsulfured molasses.
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, phosphorous, 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-6,thiamine and riboflavin. It is very low in both fat content and fiber.
Health Benefits of Molasses
Blackstrap molasses is a nourishing sweetener which contains a considerable amount of nutrients that are essential for the functioning of the body, unlike refined white sugar.
Antioxidant Capacity: 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.
Red Blood Cells: Molasses is rich in copper, which aids in eradicating the free radicals from the body. It helps in the absorption of iron, the formation of red blood cells and it maintains a healthy immune system. A deficiency of copper can result in anemia, thyroid problems, cardiac arrhythmia and osteoporosis.
Hemoglobin: The iron content in molasses helps to maintain healthy levels of hemoglobin. Hemoglobin plays a key role in supplying oxygen from lungs to other body parts. It is also vital for the production of energy and aids in maintaining a healthy metabolism.
Formation of New Cells: Blackstrap molasses is also sometimes referred to as pregnancy tea, owing to the presence of iron, vitamin B (i.e. folate) and other essential minerals. Consumption of molasses during pregnancy also provides calcium, which is required for the growth and development of the baby.
Menstruation: 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 content in 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 that are present in molasses help to prevent the clotting of blood, relieve menstrual cramps and help in maintaining the health of uterine muscles. It is a healthy alternative, as compared to other medications for menstrual discomfort which might have certain side effects.
Constipation: Molasses has been proven to be valuable in treating constipation. Research studies have shown that routine 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 in the treatment done with milk and molasses enemas when consumed orally.
Healthy Bones: Black strap molasses is a good source of calcium, which plays an important role in maintaining bone health, the functioning of enzyme system, the removal of toxins from the colon and cell membrane function. It is also required to maintain healthy teeth and protects the body against bone diseases common during menopause. In addition to healthier bones, the ability of muscular contraction is also attributed to the presence of calcium in the body.
Rheumatism: Molasses has been effectively utilized in the preparation of medication for treating rheumatism and neuralgia. The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of molasses make it a reliable ingredient for curing such disorders.
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 to prevent disorder like hypokalemia and reduces blood pressure.
Healing Touch: Molasses has been used for its wound healing effects in the treatment of wounds and skinburns. It also promotes the healthy growth of tissues. Due to the wide range of essential minerals, it serves very well as a potent healer.
Nervous System: Molasses contains magnesium, which helps in the proper functioning of the nervous system. It keeps our nerves and blood vessels relaxed by balancing calcium volume and blocking it from rushing into the nerves. Unblocked and speedy flows of calcium into the nerves can over activate them and can lead to the transmission of too many signals and excessive nerve contraction. A deficiency of magnesium in the body can lead to hypertension, muscle cramps, spasms and general body fatigue.
Headache and Fatigue: Blackstrap molasses is a good source of various minerals and vitamins such as vitamin B6 and pantothenic acid. The deficiency of these vitamins can cause headaches, asthma, fatigue, and stress. Consumption of molasses would help to provide these required vitamins and minerals and will help in maintaining good overall health.
Hair Care: Molasses extracts are good for hair and they promote healthy hair growth. It softens and conditions the hair, adds a rich texture and prevents it from prematurely graying.
Culinary Use: 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.
From – https://www.organicfacts.net
How to Use Molasses
Molasses is naturally not overly sweet, but it has an amazingly rich flavor that can add depth to many dishes. I enjoy using it mixed with another natural sweetener (like honey or maple syrup) in recipes or as a stand alone sweetener, and have also experimented with using it in the following:
- Marinades: A couple tablespoons of blackstrap is a great addition to a meat marinade and adds a tiny hint of sweetness and a warm flavor.
- Dressings: In vinaigrettes and dressings, a tablespoon or two adds great flavor.
- Sauces: A delicious addition to barbecue sauces and other homemade sauces.
- Smoothies: A tablespoon or more doesn’t usually change the taste of smoothies and is a great way to add nutrients.
From – http://wellnessmama.com