Blackstrap molasses is a byproduct of sugar production. It contains sugar but also beneficial nutrients, including iron.
Sugar production starts with boiling sugarcane juice to crystallize the sugar, which is then filtered to separate it from the juice. This leaves a thick, brown liquid called molasses.
It’s boiled two more times to create blackstrap, which is even thicker and darker than regular molasses and characterized by a bitter taste.
Because it’s boiled three times, blackstrap molasses is more nutrient-dense than other types of molasses, which explains why it has recently gained popularity as a supplement.
People often use it as a sweetener, spread, or topping for yogurt or oatmeal. Although it’s also a popular home remedy for anemia, arthritis, stress, PMS symptoms, and blood sugar spikes, few of these uses are supported by science.
Therefore, you may want to know whether using blackstrap molasses as a sweetener or supplement is healthy after all.
Here are 6 science-based benefits of blackstrap molasses.
- Calories: 60
- Carbs: 14 grams
- Sugar: 10 grams
- Protein: 1 gram
- Fat: 0 grams
- Iron: 20% of the Daily Value (DV)
- Calcium: 10% of the DV
- Magnesium: 10% of the DV
- Potassium: 9% of the DV
- Vitamin B6: 8% of the DV
Blackstrap molasses is composed primarily of sugar.
However, unlike refined sugar — which has no nutritional value — blackstrap molasses packs plenty of iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus.
Unlike refined sugar, blackstrap molasses offers vitamins and minerals such as iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, and vitamin B6.
Blackstrap molasses is a plant-based food that’s rich in iron. As such, it’s often used as a supplement to treat iron deficiency anemia, a condition caused by the malabsorption or poor dietary intake of iron (1, 3,
It has 2–3.5 times as much iron as light and dark molasses, which are produced after the first and second boiling of molasses, respectively (
What’s more, although blackstrap molasses is a source of plant-based iron, which your body typically doesn’t absorb as well as iron from meat, its iron bioavailability is around 85%, which is considered high (
The bioavailability of a nutrient represents the proportion that can enter your bloodstream and have an active effect.
Blackstrap molasses is a rich source of plant-based iron that may help treat iron deficiency anemia.
Constipation occurs when you have difficulty passing stools. This is an important issue in children’s health (
Evidence suggests that consuming a daily dose of 0.5 mL of blackstrap molasses per pound (1 mL per kg) of body weight for a month may improve defecation frequency and reduce abdominal pain in children with constipation (
Blackstrap molasses is commonly used as a home remedy for childhood constipation because it may improve defecation frequency and reduce abdominal pain.
Antioxidants are compounds that protect the body from free radicals, which are molecules that may damage your cells when present in large amounts. In turn, the presence of too many free radicals may lead to oxidative stress and numerous related diseases (
All types of molasses, including blackstrap, are rich sources of antioxidants, which help protect against numerous chronic diseases.
Calcium is the most abundant mineral in your body and makes up most of your bone structure (
Bones are constantly being rebuilt through a process that requires the regular release and reabsorption of calcium.
Research shows that calcium supplements may reduce osteoporosis risk. Because blackstrap molasses provides 10% of the DV for this mineral in a single tablespoon (15 mL), its intake may promote bone health (3,
Blackstrap molasses is a good source of calcium, which may support bone health and reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
The high iron content of blackstrap molasses may promote healthy hair.
Research shows that iron deficiency is common in women with hair loss. If you have this condition, iron supplements are often recommended (
All the same, specific research on blackstrap molasses is needed.
Blackstrap molasses may promote healthy hair as a result of its high iron content. However, research on iron deficiency and hair loss is conflicting.
Blackstrap molasses is reportedly used to treat additional ailments. Still, keep in mind that scientific evidence doesn’t support any of these uses.
If you’re looking to treat any of the following conditions, you should consult a healthcare professional rather than self-prescribe blackstrap molasses.
- Arthritis treatment. Blackstrap molasses is touted as an anti-inflammatory that helps relieve joint pain.
- Blood sugar stabilizer. Proponents claim that blackstrap molasses doesn’t spike your blood sugar because it has a low glycemic index (GI), while others assert that it helps lower the GI of high carb foods. Evidence supporting both claims is lacking.
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) remedy. Blackstrap molasses’s purported low GI is said to aid ADHD by preventing blood sugar from spiking, which may lead to a loss of focus.
You may hear claims that blackstrap molasses can treat arthritis, ADHD, and high blood sugar, but scientific evidence doesn’t support these notions.
Blackstrap molasses contains very high levels of the chemical acrylamide, which may be carcinogenic (19).
Acrylamide forms in foods when sugars and the amino acid asparagine are subjected to certain high heat cooking methods, such as frying, roasting, and baking (
Other foods high in acrylamides include breakfast cereals, french fries, potato chips, and cookies (19).
While studies suggest that high doses of dietary acrylamides cause cancer in rodents, results from human studies are mixed on whether eating foods high in acrylamides increases the risk of cancer (21).
Numerous studies have found no significant association between consumption of acrylamide in foods and risk of pancreatic, prostate, breast, ovarian, or endometrial cancers (21).
However, other studies have found possible associations between acrylamide consumption and increased risk of melanoma, cancers of the lymphatic system, and overall death from cancer (21).
The Environmental Protection Agency currently regulates acrylamide levels in drinking water (22).
While the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends reducing the amounts of acrylamide in foods, there is currently no set upper limit for acrylamide intake, nor are there guidelines for the presence of acrylamide in foods (
While the FDA does not recommend that you stop eating molasses or other foods high in acrylamides, it may be a good idea to limit your consumption of these foods (
Blackstrap molasses is a nutritious byproduct of sugarcane production.
Unlike refined sugar, it’s naturally rich in antioxidants, iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, and vitamin B6.
As such, it may relieve constipation, help treat anemia, and support bone and hair health.
All the same, numerous other health claims about blackstrap molasses aren’t backed by science, and more research is needed in general. If you’re interested in using blackstrap molasses to treat a health condition, it’s best to first consult a healthcare professional.
Just one thing
Try this today: The thick consistency and bitter flavor of blackstrap molasses make it difficult to eat by the spoonful. However, you can enjoy its benefits by adding it to baked goods, smoothies, sauces, and dressings.