Molasses is the syrupy dark liquid that is derived from processing raw sugar into its refined form. While fully refined sugars (eg. white sugar and corn syrup) are quite devoid of any nutrients except glucose, molasses is rich in minerals and offers several health benefits.
Molasses is rich in minerals such as iron, calcium, copper, manganese, potassium and selenium. It is also a good source of vitamin B6 and pantothenic acid.
Iron and copper are needed for the formation of blood. Copper helps the body in the absorption of iron. As a rich source of iron and copper, molasses can be helpful for those with anemia as well as menstruation problems. A deficiency of copper can lead to anemia, thyroid problems, cardiac arrhythmia and osteoporosis.
The antioxidants present in molasses (absent in refined sugars) can help protect you against oxidative damage linked to cancer, cardiovascular diseases and other degenerative diseases.
The magnesium found in molasses is useful for supporting your nervous system. A deficiency of magnesium in the body can lead to hypertension, muscle cramps and general body fatigue.
Calcium found in molasses is needed for the health of your bones, teeth and muscles. This mineral is also needed for the normal removal of toxins from your colon, as well as for normal cell membrane functions.
The manganese found in molasses supports the healthy production of sex hormones. This is important for normal sexual health. Manganese also plays an important role in the functioning of the nervous system as well as the production of energy.
Molasses is especially beneficial to pregnant ladies because of its rich iron, vitamin B (folate), and calcium content. These nutrients are needed for the normal growth and development of the baby. Hence, blackstrap molasses is sometimes known as “pregnancy tea”.
Though molasses is used as a sweetener, it doesn’t make you fat. On the contrary, the polyphenols found in this natural sweetener can help you reduce body weight and fat by absorbing calories in the body.
Unlike many sweet foods, blackstrap molasses actually helps stabilize blood sugar levels rather than lead to their wild fluctuations. This is partly because molasses contain substantial amounts of trace element chromium, which has been found to improve insulin action and glucose tolerance in the body.
Molasses has also been used in the treatment of wounds and skin burns as it promotes the healthy growth of tissues. It is also very much nourishing for the hair and promotes healthy hair growth. It can help soften your hair, giving it a rich texture and prevent premature graying of hair.
 Murray, Michael, ND., Pizzorno, Joseph, ND., and Pizzorno, Lara, MA, LMT. The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods. New York, NY: Atria Books, 2005. Print.
Cindy L. TJOL is trained in Psychology, Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine. She has several years of experience writing on natural health on the internet. Follow her on her blog and read her other articles at Insights On Health.com.