Molasses is a popular sweetener that is the byproduct of processing sugar cane into sugar. You might know it as a main component in many baking recipes, but did you know that this dark and mysterious syrup also packs a healthy boost of nutrients?
What is blackstrap molasses anyway?
But before we get to the good stuff, do you ever find yourself stumped at a grocery store not knowing which type of molasses to buy? Don’t worry. Here’re a few quick notes to remember.
Light: The lightest in colour, mildest in flavour, but also the sweetest of all molasses. The light version is made from the first boiling of the cane sugar. It is commonly used in baking cookies, and certain marinades.
Dark: Darker in colour, stronger in flavour, and less sweet than its lighter counterpart. It is made from the second boiling of the cane sugar. The dark molasses is most often used in gingerbread cookies and similar recipes.
Blackstrap: The most viscous, most robust and bitter in flavour, and the least sweet of all molasses. Blackstrap is made from the third and final boiling of the cane sugar. The blackstrap is great for many recipes including savoury ones, but don’t substitute the ones that call for light or dark molasses, as the blackstrap is noticeably different in flavour.
What are the most abundant nutrients found in blackstrap molasses?
Not all molasses pack the same amount of nutrients. The most nutritious of all is undoubtedly the blackstrap molasses, where most of the sugar content has been taken out, leaving it as a thick brew of valuable nutrients that you might not expect.
Magnesium: To say that magnesium is important is an understatement. This mineral is responsible for more than three hundred biochemical reactions. It is essential for nerve and muscle function, maintenance of the immune system, supporting the heart, building strong bones, regulating blood sugar levels, as well as the production of protein and energy.
Iron: One of the most abundant minerals found in blackstrap molasses, iron is a crucial nutrient as it is one of the minerals that make up haemoglobin, a protein that helps red blood cells carry oxygen throughout the body. Iron also helps with metabolism and energy production. In short, without iron, everything in your body suffers.
Copper: Copper is a micronutrient that helps with the absorption and utility of iron. It performs metabolic functions and is essential in the maintenance of many body organs—including the brain and the heart—bones, and tissues.
Manganese: An often neglected mineral, manganese actually plays an important role in stimulating the development and activity of enzymes, and is also a component of certain enzymes as well. Manganese deficiency can also lead to skeletal abnormalities, inhibited collagen production, and even impaired reproductive function.[i] Just two teaspoons of blackstrap molasses can offer about 18% of the recommended daily intake of this nutrient.
Calcium: We know calcium for its fundamental role in building bones and teeth, but calcium is also vital for many nerve functions, muscle contractions, and blood clotting. Lack of calcium can lead to numbness of muscles, cramps, and even severe skeletal deformations.
Potassium: Like calcium, potassium is crucial for heart function, muscle contraction, and skeletal growth. This mineral is particularly helpful in allowing the nerves and muscles to work together. Make sure you have enough potassium before and after exercising to prevent any cramping and ensure proper recovery.
What do you cook with blackstrap molasses?
Blackstrap molasses is more versatile than you think. Drizzle a little on your yoghurt or oatmeal. Glaze your favourite roasted vegetables along with butter. Or make delicious sauces like barbecue and dressings like vinaigrette. Otherwise, try making and spiced cookies like the Chewy Cardamom-Scented Ginger and Molasses Cookies!
Have you tried cooking with blackstrap molasses? Share with us your thoughts, tips, and favourite recipe!
Nutrient contents referenced with the USDA Food Composition Databases
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