9 Surprising Uses for Molasses You Didn’t Know About
Molasses is a sweet substitute for sugar, adding a lovely depth of flavor to baked goods. The syrup has some surprising health benefits, too.
Maybe you’re mostly familiar with molasses from holiday baking—like these amazing gingerbread recipes that are perfect for the holidays, for example. But there’s so much more the syrupy sweet stuff than meets the eye. Created as a byproduct during sugar-cane and sugar-beet processing, blackstrap molasses contains trace amounts of minerals and vitamins, including calcium, magnesium, and potassium—all three of which are integral to bone health. Molasses is often used as a substitute for table sugar, but there are a surprising number of other uses for the syrup. It’s widely available at specialty food stores or health food stores, but be sure you look for the “blackstrap” version, which has the most nutrients.
There are a number of surprising reasons hair can turn gray, and some alternative health gurus claim that a conditioning treatment made of blackstrap molasses and water may improve hair pigmentation, due to its copper content. While a 2018 study in the International Journal of Trichology did show a relationship between premature graying and a deficiency in trace minerals like copper, there’s no proof serum levels would improve via scalp treatment. In short, you may be better off eating the conditioner!
Treats made with molasses can give provide a quick energy burst for an afternoon pick me up—check out these energy ball recipes. There’s no doubt molasses pairs well with cinnamon, dried fruits, and nuts, and its sticky nature makes it a perfect binder for holding dry ingredients together. You can also use molasses as a substitute for honey or maple syrup in any of your favorite recipes.
Menstrual cramp relief
If you suffer period pain each month, you’ve likely tried exercises for menstrual cramps and may have even given essential oils for menstrual cramps a shot. But have you tried molasses? Blackstrap molasses is a good source of iron, and a study published in the Journal of Canadian Chiropractic Association that synthesized previous research on menorrhagia confirmed chronic iron deficiency can be a cause.
Sauce and glazes
If you’re looking to jazz up your grilling recipes, molasses can be a great flavor enhancer. Add a small amount to butter, and the combo makes a perfect glaze for vegetables like carrots and sweet potatoes. Or mix it into barbecue sauce to use as a marinade for your favorite meats. The syrup can also be added to salad dressing.
If you want to understand the causes of acne, first learn the truth about common acne myths. “Alternative beauty” sites claim washing your face in a solution of molasses and water will help prevent acne, due to molasses’ so-called natural cleansing properties. Well, it may not be as far-fetched as it sounds, but not for the reasons they cite. Molasses does contain lactic acid, and applying a topical solution with lactic acid has been shown to prevent acne. However, topical lactic acid solutions available in your local beauty boutique may work just as well, without all the stickiness.
If your tummy troubles you, working some of these probiotic foods into your diet could help improve gut health. If constipation is an occasional problem, molasses could help too, thanks to its magnesium, a proven constipation aid. Molasses syrup has been a common home-remedy for constipation for decades, and it’s easy to use. Just one or two tablespoons in your morning coffee or other hot beverage should do the trick.
Relieve joint pain
If you have joint pain, you’ll be interested in hearing about a number of foods that have been shown to help arthritis symptoms. But you could also add molasses to your shopping list: As it provides magnesium, calcium, and iron, molasses could conceivably help improve nerve and muscle function, as well as strengthen bones. One tablespoon in your morning hot beverage or even a cup of hot water will do.
Sweetener in drinks
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If you’re looking for a sugar replacement to sweeten your morning cup of joe—blackstrap molasses provides the right sweetness and falls lower on the glycemic index than table sugar (55 compared to 65). Best of all substitutions, though, could be stevia, as it’s been shown to actually prevent metabolic syndrome.
And finally, don’t forget molasses is wonderful for baking. There are a number of holiday cookie recipes that call for molasses in their ingredients, including much-beloved gingersnaps. It’s a common ingredient in fruitcakes, muffins breads, and more because it give baked goods that rich, brown hue and also adds a depth of flavor.
The Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association: “Menorrhagia: A synopsis of management focusing on herbal and nutritional supplements, and chiropractic,” December, 2007.
Indian Journal of Dermatology, Venereology and Leprology: “Long term topical application of lactic acid/lactate lotion as a preventive treatment for acne vulgaris,” May-June 2002.
European Journal of Clinical Nutrition: “Association between dietary fiber, water and magnesium intake and functional constipation among young Japanese women,” December 2006.