Blackstrap Molasses Benefits (+ Cooking and Beauty Uses)

The benefits of molasses

In many cases, the byproduct of a refining process is bad news. This is the case with petroleum jellyvegetable oils, and many other substances. However, one exception to this rule is blackstrap molasses.

My only childhood memories of this strongly flavored syrup involved making cookies or ornaments once a year, but it turns out that molasses is great for much more than gingerbread cookies.

What is Molasses?

Technically, molasses is the byproduct of the sugarcane refining process. When sugar cane is mashed and boiled, cane syrup is created. A second boiling yields molasses and a third leaves blackstrap molasses.

It is important to note the distinction that the “refining” process refers to just boiling and not any other chemical process which is needed in many types of refining. Refining often removes beneficial parts of a substance, but in this case, the beneficial parts of the plant are retained and some sources would even consider it a superfood, high in Iron, B-vitamins, Magnesium and other nutrients.

Different Types of Molasses

There are several different types to choose from:

  • Light– Produced by the first boiling of the sugar cane (or sugar beet). This type is lighter in color and can be sulphured or un-sulphured. Sulphured Molasses treated with sulphur dioxide acts as a preservative. Typically this type is extracted from young sugar cane, and the preservative is needed. Some people have gene mutations that make them react negatively to sulphur, so this is typically not the best type to use. Un-sulphured is extracted from ripe sugarcane that does not need a preservative. It is also sometimes referred to as “Barbados” or “mild” molasses.
  • Dark– This is the product of the second boiling after more sugar has been extracted. It is less sweet than light molasses and is often used in cooking and baking. This is the type that most people are familiar with as it is often used in gingerbread cookies.
  • Blackstrap– The healthiest form that is produced by the third boiling. It contains the most vitamins and nutrients, but is also the least sweet and does not work well in many recipes. Blackstrap molasses is the highest in Iron, Manganese, Copper, Magnesium, Calcium and other nutrients and is the one I use most often (this is my favorite).

Blackstrap Molasses Benefits

Personally, I’ve been making a molasses based switchel recipe that has helped keep my energy levels, digestion, and iron levels great during pregnancy, but there are many additional benefits to blackstrap molasses as well:

Iron Boost

Blackstrap molasses is one of the few great non-animal sources of iron. Many doctors and midwives recommend 1-2 tablespoons a day for those with anemia or related disorders. The high iron content and presence of minerals like magnesium make it helpful for menstrual troubles and pregnant women. There are many accounts of people who used molasses to help remedy anemia and also noticed improved skin and new hair growth from the additional minerals.

TIP: I don’t love the taste by itself, so I mix it into coffee, tea, or switchel to consume it daily. I always monitor my blood sugar during pregnancy (instead of consuming the glucose drink) and molasses does not negatively affect my blood sugar at all.

For Digestion

Minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and manganese also make molasses beneficial for digestion. Some people who suffer from constipation notice relief from consuming 1-2 tablespoons in warm water each day. It is also a natural stool softener and is exceptionally beneficial after pregnancy to help return digestion to normal and boost iron levels.

For Hair

Blackstrap molasses contains copper which is important for hair growth. Used internally and externally it may help improve hair growth and some people even report that it helped reverse graying hair and brought back their natural hair color when used regularly.

I definitely wouldn’t recommend pouring it directly on hair, but I like diluting it with equal parts water and pouring on hair as a 20-minute nourishing hair mask. (Note: It will darken hair slightly for a short time!)

Low-Sugar Sweetener

Though blackstrap molasses isn’t exceptionally sweet, it can be a substitute for sugar or syrup in some recipes or can be added to baked goods to boost the nutritional profile. I like using a 50:50 mixture with maple syrup as a sweetener in many of my recipes.

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.

Molasses also has a place in natural beauty remedies as it is great for skin and hair. It can be used to make an intensive moisturizing hair conditioning mask or directly on the face as a natural tightening face wash.

Best Kind of Blackstrap Molasses Use

Blackstrap molasses has the highest nutrient content and the lowest amount of natural sugar, so it is the preferred type of molasses to use in many cases. I personally like this un-sulphured organic blackstrap molasses which is naturally sweet and not bitter.

Do you ever use molasses? What is your favorite way to use it?

info-graphic-molasses

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Reader Comments

  1. I have an allergy to sulphur as mentioned above and am interested to know what kind of a gene mutation I have …also as you mention. Does it affect any other response in my body and can I do anything holistically about it?

    • I am interested in the response to this, as my husband has a sulfa allergy. (I don’t know much about it, is it the same as sulphur?)

      • Sulfur and sulfa are not the same. I have a sulfa allergy. Sulfur is found in things like garlic, and is what gives it its incredible immune-boosting qualities. Sulfur content is higher in organically-grown garlic!

    • It is likely a CBS gene mutation, but maybe google that.

  2. I bought some of the Whole Foods molasses because it was the best I could do- Although it was organic, it came in a plastic bottle which I was NOT happy about. Is it contaminated because of leaked out chemicals? Should I toss it? Or if I transfer it to a glass container could it be salvaged–though it would be a mess to transfer it to another container? I am trying to avoid toxins when possible as I have inflammation and my child has health issues as well. I appreciate any ideas you would have. BTW- tried your coconut milk recipe and your chia pudding recipe and have immensely enjoyed both., Thank you-

  3. Hey, so I thought vitamins were heat sensitive (however, minerals are not)? How could blackstrap be high(est) in b vitamins if it’s cooked the longest??

    • I’ve been wondering the same thing. One would think that all the boiling of the sugar cane would remove most of the vitamins, leaving an end-product high in minerals but low in vitamins.
      I can’t seem to find any articles about it on the internet, would love to know!

  4. Just wanted to know. Where can I buy BLACK STRAP MOLASSES?
    The only health food store I know is Whole Foods.

    • She linked the kind she uses. It can be purchased on Amazon and is available with Prime shipping. Might be a good option if you can’t find a good quality brand in your area!

    • I’ve bought the same kind she uses from my local WF

    • I just bought some in wegmans. Whoe foods has to have it too.

    • I get mine through a food coop called Bountiful Baskets when it is offered. You might also check with Azure Standard.

    • BiMart carries it.

  5. How do you do that hair mask?
    Start with dry or wet hair?
    Equal parts, yes. But about how many Tbsp. do you need to coat your long hair?
    I’d like to try this!

  6. I buy Plantation Blackstrap molasses at Whole Foods for about $8.

  7. We like to use it on oatmeal! Great way for kids to eat it.

    • I put mine in oatmeal as well, but I add some peanut butter too. It’s great!

  8. How long will molasses last. I have some that is about two years old. Do you think it is still good.

  9. Thanks for the info.!
    So let me get this straight…with each boiling a greater amount of sugar is extracted but the taste becomes more bitter/less sweet?! Interesting.

    • Yes, more sugar is extracted FROM the molasses, making it less sweet 🙂

  10. I add Blackstrap Molasses to all of my smoothies, just like you said. It really doesn’t change the taste at all and I need the minerals it has in it! I had trouble with my periods, irregular frequency and excessive bleeding (to put it mildly), and was able to totally fix that by adjusting what I ate (or didn’t eat) and by adding magnesium, etc. into my diet and topically. Eating Blackstrap molasses is one way that I make sure I stay evened out with my hormones. Being able to fix problems like this so easily with food and/or supplements still amazes me!

    • Carisa,
      My 17 year old daughter suffers terribly with her menstrual cycle. Where would you suggest we look for information to help her naturally? Any help is greatly appreciated.

      • I’ve found a lot of good information on the Flo living website. She (Alisa Vitti) uses diet to help people balance their hormones. She also has a book called Women Code. I hope I don’t sound like an advertisement for her, as I’ve posted about this before, I just think she has some great information about hormones for ladies pre-menopause. I’ve also read The Hormone Cure book by Dr. Gottfried, a hormone book by Dr. Tami Meraglia, and used many websites like hormonesbalance .com. I hope some of these help!

      • Hi Andrea, I can’t recommend anything food wise but if your daughter uses tampons I can recommend a Mooncup and cotton washable pads (not as gross as it sounds).
        I live in the UK and bought them from Earthwise Girls. I’m 44 and have been using them both since July 2014. After being regular for years, my cycles went a little haywire around 18 months ago. I used to get a lot of pain in my lower back and some cramping on the first day and would bleed for up to 5 days (tailing off at the end). Now the pain is minimal (just a minor ache for the first day), no cramping and bleeding for less time.
        Worth looking into?

      • Raspberry leaf tea may help.

      • Crampbark tincture. Amazing. Try it at the very least. Start as soon as period commences. Every 4 hrs is how we did it. Im not sure it took the pain completely away but at least ur not curled up in a ball wanting to die. My excruciating period cramps did not stop till i had my 1st baby lol
        Wish i had had crampbark!!!

    • Hi, Carissa! I would love to hear which foods helped you and how you added magnesium into your diet. I have always had problems with periods (heaviness and length) and am searching for natural ways to help. I tend to get overwhelmed ans don’t know where to start. Thanks!

    • I would love to hear your dietary solutions, also. Just started having the same issues with heavy bleeding!

      • I used to have very heavy (~350ml) periods, and irregular cycles (22-35days) for 20years. For the last three years since taking vitamin A 10,000IU (from fish liver oil) per day flow has halved and cycles are 28/29 days. I take vit D3 2000IU to balance the vit A and vit K2 to balance the vit D but it’s the A does the trick- if I leave off for a month I’m back where I was. I also started taking magnesium and collagen and they have helped with PMS symptoms and cramping. I also second the recommendation to check out menstrual cups- for avoiding bleaching chemicals / toxic shock and for the environmantal benefits as well as the reduced cramping. Worth persevering if don’t work at first- try different brands / sizes and learn how to correctly position.

  11. Mmmm, love it. When I was a kid, the Dr. told my mom to give me a tablespoon a day ( for iron, I guess.) still love it, I should buy some. Love it straight, or mixed with peanut butter (instead of jelly).

  12. Does sorghum have the same benefits?

  13. I just recently watched a program where they made Turkish molasses – which is basically from grapes instead of sugar cane. I am going to purchase some to try…

    • Turkey has a wide variety of molasses! I live there, and am visiting the States for a while, and I tried to find grape molasses to no avail. There is also carob molasses and blackberry molasses, but grape molasses is the most commonly found. Turks also mix molasses with tahini and eat at breakfast. In my mind, it’s a healthier alternative to peanut butter. =)

  14. Molasses in homemade oatmeal bread is still a fond memory of going to my gramma’s he. Thank goodness I was able to get her recipe before she passed so my own family can enjoy the goodness of this wonderful sweetener. I grew up in Maine and molasses was a staple in our home. Used in everything from pudding, bread, and ham glaze to a sweetener in coffee. My sister used to love it on biscuits! Mmmmmm.

    • Oatmeal molasses bread sounds wonderful ! Would you mind sharing your grandmother’s special recipe?

  15. I use it instead of syrup on pancakes with syrup. Most syrups are too sweet for me.

    • I put it in with a can of baked beans, add some brown sugar and onions. Yumm! Buy it at Aldi. Great price and just as good.

  16. Blackstrap molasses can be contaminated with high amounts of toxic glyphosate if you don’t buy it organic! The reason being, many non-organic farmers saturate the sugar cane with it just days prior to harvesting the sugar cane.

    This saturation helps kill and soften the canes making it easier to harvest. Unfortunately, the canes soak up a high amount of the glyphosate that cannot be removed during processing, retaining it in the sugar and any other product made using the sugar cane.

    Just FYI, they also use this glyphosate saturation technicque on other crops such as wheat and barley. So anything using non-organic flour from these crops would also contain high amounts of the toxic herbicide.

    Many countries are now banning the use of glyphosate and the World Health Organization has just proclaimed it to be a likely human carcinogen!

    I like to use a little blackstrap molasses in my smoothies and oatmeal.

    • I’ve been actively involved in a wheat and barley growing family for 80 plus years (in a very large wheat growing area) and have never heard of any farmer using the above mentioned herbicide for “softening” the stem for easier harvesting. Actually we want the crop to be crisp and dry for easier cutting and better shelling-out of the kernels. And from the farmer’s economic point of view he would not want to increase his inputs by using the herbicide needlessly. Herbicides may be used, if needed, early in the growing process to kill competing weeds, but only when the crop is very young.

  17. We like a 3-bean casserole or soup which contains molasses and a bit of mustard, along with some onion and a little catsup.

  18. I take a spoonful of blackstrap a day to boost my iron levels, especially when I notice I am more tired than normal. It also has a mild laxative effect which is useful sometimes!

  19. There is no copper listed in this brand of blackstrap molasses, do you know of a brand that contains copper?

  20. I remember my mother was mixing it was sesame paste and spreading it on toast for breakfast or when I need something sweet. I was at that time very healthy, almost never got sick and had the thickest hair ever. Thanks for reminding me with it, I will start eating it and giving it to my children on my mother way.

  21. Do you know much about jaggery Wellness Mama?

    • Some…. I know that it is used medicinally in some places and is also considered a nutritive sweetener.

  22. To get the blood boosting benefits of molasses, there are a few more things you need.

    1) organic peanut butter or almond butter (protein) Peanut butter may pose a fungal risk.

    2) Vitamin B6-9-12

    3) Vitamin C

    This is the basic blood building protocol that we used in the hospitals where I worked as a case manager of people with anemia and those wanting to refuse blood transfusions. This worked wonders, even when things like Procrit alone did not. We eventually found this worked without the Procrit.

    • Can you tell me which brands of these are the best? I’m trying to recover from anemia.

  23. When I was growing up in the 60’s we grew sugar cane and took it to the mill to make molasses , they used mules to spin the wheel to mash the sugar cane and it was really interesting. My favorite recipe was to boil the molasses to make popcorn balls, when it got close to getting ready to pour over the popcorn we put a pinch of arm of hammer in it and it would give it a white looking color, when we pour it over the popcorn after we have greased our hands, we stir the popcorn and form balls..it’s wonderful….

  24. When my monthly is approaching I will drink a glass of molasses and milk, warmed up, in the evening. It’s calming and I believe it helps build my nutrients up before shedding my lining. I’ve read quite a bit about the benefits of molasses and the menstrual cycle. Whether it’s helping or not, I do enjoy the milk/molasses drink, either way. I do not agree with one of your points about blackstrap, in that it does not work well in many recipes. I think it works just fine. I’ve used it plenty of times to make brown sugar, and use for other recipes and I quite like the more intense flavor. Of course, this is my opinion and we’re all entitled to one 🙂

  25. I met my girlfriend Elva when she was 94. She lived to 103 and was in good health and relatively independent until the last three years of her life. She liked to make a morning drink made with 1 spoonful blackstrap, 1 spoonful olive oil, and 1 spoonful Apple cider vinegar stirred into a cup of hot water. I sometimes add coconut oil instead. It looks like coffee and has a zingy taste.

  26. I just started adding molasses to my coffee in the morning! I am a female runner and molasses help with iron levels. I’ve also noticed better digestion since I began using it. Thank for this very useful tip!

  27. If you smear some blackstrap molasses on a tooth abscess it clears up very fast. The pain stops within a day.

  28. I came across a recipe a while ago (I think it was Christmas time – when I was looking at cookie recipes) that stated specifically “NOT” to use blackstrap – would there be a reason or an instance where blackstrap would yield poor or unwanted results? Thank you!

    • It isn’t as sweet as other types, so for a lot of regular recipes that are supposed to be sweet, it often isn’t recommended.

    • Yes, I just bought some blackstrap for the first time, and although I like it, it has almost a slight bitter flavor while being sweet at the same time. Hard to describe.

  29. I put a very small amount on my gum when I have an abscess. The pain goes pretty fast and the abscess clears up in a few days. I rub it into the gum 3 times a day. I use just enough to cover the tip of my index finger.

  30. Any thoughts on adding it to baby’s diet for extra iron? I have a 5 month old that we will be adding solid food to breast milk diet soon and want to avoid processed, iron fortified baby foods. Would rather he gets his iron from real food?

  31. Thanks for the info! I have a bottle of molasses and wasn’t sure what to do with it, but now I’ll use it in my breakfast! I’m 6 months pregnant, so its a good addition!

    Molasses is great in home-made granola, and I added some to the granola bars I made this morning. I also tried coconut oil in my coffee this morning instead of milk & sugar, it wasn’t bad at all!

    Do you have a recipe for sugar free oatmeal cookies?

  32. This molasses’ lable says 0% copper, is this the same molasses you take for copper?

    http://amzn.to/1U6FNFZ

    Thanks!

  33. Does anyone know if molasses would affect an inr level if you are taking warfarin? I’m anemic and want to try the molasses. I’m finding conflicting info. Seems maybe if it’s not unsulfered it could affect levels because sulphur is a natural anticoagulant??

  34. I make a molasses hot chocolate every day. 1 TBSP cocoa powder, 2 TSBP molasses, cinnamon, vanilla, almond milk and sometimes I throw in a piece of dark chocolate if I want to have it extra rich. This cuts some of the bitter taste, which you do get used to after a while.

    • Ooh, that’s a great idea! I’m writing down your hot chocolate recipe right now.

  35. I’ve been using it in my coffee for quite a while. I like just a hint of sweet, and molasses is perfect for that. Plus, it has a great flavor when added to it.

  36. I use molasses to curb restless legs. Yes, i take magnesium, but the molasses really helps.

  37. I use black strap molasses in my kids morning smoothie before school. It consists of raw cows milk, two pastured raw egg yolks, a few tablespoons of collagen powder, B complex liquid, a few squirts of Concentrace minerals, a couple spoonfuls of molasses, and a touch of organic chocolate syrup for flavor, divided between two kids. They love it and think they are lucky enough to get chocolate milk everyday!

  38. Have you ever heard of/researched molasses made from other sources besides sugar cane? I live overseas and the only types of molasses I can find are made of fruits like carob, grape, etc. the consistency is also a lot thinner….I’m wondering if they have similar health benefits or not?

  39. I’m wondering if this will help me maintain my iron at a healthy level seeing as I’m anemic and hopefully pregnant. Another thing I wonder is will it help darken my hair, seeing as I dye it black and I’m looking for natural alternatives to make my blond roots less obvious.

  40. As to the iron, yes. It has been used in a few select hospitals for the past decade, especially for those who refuse blood transfusions. Being pregnant though, you should run this by a naturopathic physician who specializes in prenatal care. Otherwise…… Take a tablespoon three times a day. You will also need B6, B9 and B12. And to help you absorb the iron, you will need vitamin C. Lastly you will need a protein. A spoon full of organic almond butter or any nut butter (not peanuts though because of the risk of mold toxins).

    How well does this work? We have seen people with Hgb of 2.9 (this is really low) come up to 3.9 in less than 24 hours. In 48 hours, we have seen up to 3 g/dl (this is supported by literature too). This is thought to be the release of shunted blood. Basically though it takes 2 weeks for new blood cells to mature. So, your count may take a week or two before you notice a benefit.

    There is a third component…(again run this by your doctor)….this being properly hydrating your body. Simply drinking water will not hydrate you. Water actually dehydrates you. A pinch of unprocessed salt (either sea or mined salt) will help your body absorb and use the water. Our daily intake should be about half our body weight in ounces of water. If you divide this by 5, surprisingly it comes out to about 10% our body weight each time we drink. For ever 16 ounces of water we drink, we need about 1/8th tsp of salt on our tongue. For some reason, this last part…on the tongue gets ignored or misunderstood. If you put the salt anywhere but on your tongue, you may get sick. Only put it on the tongue. This is called the Water Cures Protocol. This one thing will help the molasses to work even better.

  41. As to darkening your hair, you may be wanting it because of the potential for copper in it. I have tried to find out and few if any black strap molasses producers seem to test for copper. None that I contacted did. In theory, it could help darken your hair but most-likely only if there is copper. A way to get this benefit is liquid chlorophyll. The liquid form has a lot of copper compared to the dry supplement.

  42. Thank you so much for this info! I purchased the kind u provided the link for, and just received it yesterday and tried it for the first time today! Its not too bad, I tried it on its own and although it made me pucker a bit, I chased it with some water and it was fine! There wasn’t much of an aftertaste at all, at least for me there wasn’t. I’m looking forward to its health benefits! Thanks again for all u do!

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