What is blackstrap molasses? The question is being heard more and more as the benefits of this superfood become better known. For a long time, however, this type of molasses was widely used only as feed for livestock. Only now are people truly beginning to consider it worthy of human consumption—and given its nutritive value, it is hard to argue against that.
Blackstrap molasses is the highly viscous liquid that is left as a byproduct of processing cane syrup. More specifically, it is the byproduct of the third time the cane syrup is boiled.
Cane syrup is boiled, of course, in order to extract sucrose and create the sugar most of us are familiar with: the white granules we find in households all over the world. But cane syrup does not yield all of the possible sugar it can give in a single boiling. It can be boiled as many as three times before it gives up all of its sucrose.
Each of those times that the cane sugar is boiled, it actually has a molasses byproduct. However, the type of molasses each time is different.
The first boiling yields the lightest molasses with the subtlest flavor. The second yields a darker one, with a different flavor again. And finally, the third yields blackstrap molasses, which is the darkest of all three and the most nutritious.
This is not in terms of actual calories, though; in fact, blackstrap molasses has a moderate glycemic load, so one serving of it will stay between 30-35 calories. This means the calories in blackstrap molasses are relatively low. As such, the real nutritive value of blackstrap molasses derives from its significant vitamin and mineral content.
Blackstrap Molasses Nutrition
Blackstrap molasses is, as mentioned earlier, rich in minerals and vitamins. One of the most common uses for it among the health-conscious is as a treatment to anemic constitutions. This is due to its high iron content. A single tablespoon of the stuff can deliver 6% of the recommended daily intake (RDI) of iron, in fact.
But that is not all that tablespoon can deliver. It can also yield nearly 5% of the RDI of potassium, 7% of the RDI of copper, over 5% of the RDI for calcium, and 9% of the RDI for manganese. In addition to these, it also contains 3.5% of the RDI for magnesium, 2.5% of the RDI for Vitamin B6, and nearly 2% of the RDI for selenium.
All of this spells out a great deal of benefit for the many systems making up the whole human body. The iron, potassium, magnesium and B vitamins promote cardiovascular health. The calcium (as well as the aforementioned magnesium) promote skeletal health. The same magnesium and manganese aid in the uptake of nutrients, and the selenium functions as an antioxidant.
Furthermore, blackstrap molasses has been found to contain zinc, which is essential to the continued function of a healthy prostate.
Organic Blackstrap Molasses
Nowadays, people buying molasses at the local grocery store will typically run into two options: organic and non-organic. Of course, the latter is more typically unlabeled, which means it will simply be labeled “blackstrap molasses”. Generally speaking, the former variety is the one that goes marked.
These two types of molasses are common enough in most stores, but those going to health food shops will note that it is usually only one of them that appears. That is, health food vendors are more likely to carry organic blackstrap molasses than the non-organic kind.
This is due to a widely-held belief that—for consumption, at least—the organic type is far better. This is due to fact that one need not worry too much about possible allergies to chemicals or pesticides with it.
Organic molasses is from naturally-grown sugar cane: it has not been subjected to pesticide treatment or other supplementary chemical treatments that are not part of the traditional method of farming it. The same goes for its processing: no synthetic chemicals are added.
This means that organic blackstrap molasses will be unsulphured too, of course. Next we discuss that that signifies.
Unsulphured Blackstrap Molasses
When sugar cane is harvested early out of some necessity, it needs extra processing to bring it to the “ripeness” of the properly aged variety. To do this, people add sulfur to it. There are other reasons for adding sulfur to sugar cane processing, though. For example, it can be used to lighten the color of the molasses too.
Whatever the reason for adding it, the simple fact is that its addition to the process translates to the resultant sugar product no longer being organic. As a general rule, those looking to use blackstrap molasses as a health supplement should stick to organic (and unsulphured) products. These are most likely to carry the most natural health benefits with the least possible adulteration from unnecessary (and on some occasions, even harmful) synthetic chemicals, after all.