By Alan Ostrowsky
Molasses has a reputation in many circles as a second class supplement, used for horses and general livestock feed and commercial purposes. The collection of commercial uses ranging from: baking, some alcohol beverages, and right through to vehicle ethanol production.
Yet, there is a strange paradox in the reputation of Molasses – on the one hand, the poor cousin – “too dark and dirty looking…. resembles cough syrup….” – yet fit for four legged royalty – dished up by loving horse enthusiasts and astute trainers earmarking for greatness.
If Molasses is good enough for royalty, there must be much for us two legged commoners, faced with the dreaded barnyard scraps in our typical western diet.
It must be the sweetness of Molasses that is safe for most glucose or blood sugar level issues. It must the high concentration of natural minerals and vitamins. And it must definitely be its health enhancing and remedial properties.
Ironically, molasses is the by product from processing sugar cane or beet into white sugar. Refined white sugar creates blood sugar and insulin instability while providing no nutrients. Refined sugar actually sucks nutrients, especially minerals, out of the body when consumed.
How is Molasses produced?
The sugar cane roots go very deeply into the soil, ranging from 2 to 6 metres (6.5 to 19 feet) down and – deep enough to bypass the typical nutrient depleted topsoils to gain vital nutrients. The Sugar cane is harvested and machines are used to press the juice out of the cane. That juice is boiled then put through centrifugal machinery to separate the sugar crystals from the liquid.
There are three grades of molasses:
Sulphur is used to process unripe green sugar cane. This chemical sulphur is not so good for most human consumption.
Sun ripened sugar cane is processed without the use of sulphur. Which makes unsulphered molasses a better choice.
The third boiling necessary to extract table sugar from sugar cane or beet sugar produces a thick dark substance known as blackstrap molasses. Blackstrap molasses is the highly regarded version containing the greatest concentration of nutrients. Blackstrap molasses is the thoroughbred version.
A Natural Born Supplement
It is scientifically established that nutrient s derived naturally from whole food sources are far superior to synthetically derived supplements. Naturally derived supplements are far superior in absorption and overall benefits. Nutrients from food are compatible with the body. Synthetic nutrients commonly found in cheap brands from pharmacies are not compatible with the body. Naturally derived supplements contain a broad balance of synergistic nutrients in their original form. This is the true classification of an unaltered and natural supplement. The nutrients in Molasses have only been concentrated and maintained.
Minerals are the building blocks of the body and appropriate amounts within the body are essential for utilization of vitamins. Yes vitamins are totally reliant on minerals – and not vice versa – as we are lead to believe.
The Vital Nutrients of Blackstrap Molasses
A low glycemic index
Blackstrap molasses has a low glycemic index, meaning the glucose and carbohydrates are metabolized slowly, demanding less insulin production and stabilizing blood sugar. The result is less lipids or fats occurring in the blood. This means that your chances of becoming diabetic while satisfying your sweet tooth is essentially nil.
Iron and Folic Acid
Due to its high iron content, many use blackstrap molasses to overcome anaemia without the usual side effects from the synthetic versions. Iron is essential for creating red blood cells. In addition to iron, blackstrap molasses contains folate, a natural source for folic acid, vitamin B6, along with some other B vitamins. All of these nutrients synergistically combine to promote red blood cell production.
Blackstrap molasses is a very good source of calcium. One tablespoon provides you with nearly 25% of your daily needs for calcium. Calcium is essential for bone, connective tissue, nerve functioning and many other body requirements.
The high levels of magnesium are important for balancing with calcium and vital for nerve, muscle and energy production. Diabetes and Cardiovascular disease is related to low magnesium levels.
Potassium is another plentiful mineral in blackstrap molasses. A deficiency in potassium results in weak muscles and a factor in arthritis. Potassium also helps maintain a calm and efficient functioning of the nervous system and heart health.
Manganese, a trace mineral, is very high in unsulphured blackstrap molasses. Manganese functions with a number of enzymes, and is essential for combating unusual free radicals. Manganese also supports cellular absorption of nutrients, helps synthesize fatty acids, stabilizes blood sugar levels and is vital for the nervous system.
Zinc and Copper
Zinc is vital for nearly all hormonal functioning in the body. Zinc has been called the male mineral because it helps support a healthy prostate. Zinc is also part of haemoglobin, the carrying hormone of Iron. Working with zinc, copper helps eliminate the oxidation damage of superoxides.
All the Rewards
There are many testimonial anecdotes concerning the use of unsulphured blackstrap molasses. Most relate to the fact that anaemia was overcome or greatly lessened without the typical constipation or stomach problems. People comment on achieving more energy, feeling more relaxed, better heart health, relief from arthritis, improved skin conditions, and even restored hair colour!
Unsulphured blackstrap molasses can be included with many foods as a sweetener despite its characteristic flavour. It can be used in smoothies, hot drinks or teas, as a condiment on pancakes or as a glaze for cooking. Some people find it lacking as a sweetener, especially those who have taste buds conditioned for years by sugar and artificial sweeteners. Others take to it straight away and thrive.
Unsulphured blackstrap molasses is easily assimilated and managed as a tonic. Molasses mixes well in glass of warm water. Informed individuals have a tablespoon as part of their daily diet. Some have used this mix three times a day as a remedy for extreme health concerns. Regaining or maintaining health through natural foods requires a continual intake over time. Though, natural food based supplements are still less expensive than medications or even natural supplements.
Initially there can be a bit of a trade-off between a less sweet sensation for the promise of long term health benefits. The informed individual sees the benefits and makes the wise long term decision. The health enhancing results are real and lasting without the side effects of pharmaceuticals. And your body will love you for it.
Please note: If you feel that you are anaemic it might be advisable to refer to a qualified health professional to ascertain the cause. As there may be an underlying problem or you actually may have sufficient stores of iron but lacking in the co-factor nutrients. A basic iron blood test would be recommended as part of the process. Caution is always the best approach because excessive iron intake can lead to a harmful toxic overload.
The World’s Healthiest Foods
Healing Foods: A Case Study About Molasses
Aslan Y, Erduran E, Mocan H, et al. Absorption of iron from grape-molasses and ferrous sulfate: a comparative study in normal subjects and subjects with iron deficiency anemia. Turk J Pediatr 1997 Oct-1997 Dec 31;39(4):465-71. 1997. PMID:16410.
Ensminger AH, Ensminger, ME, Kondale JE, Robson JRK. Foods & Nutriton Encyclopedia. Pegus Press, Clovis, California. 1983.