While it is true that one single food cannot be a miracle cure, it is a fact that some foods are extremely beneficial and have a plethora of health benefits associated with them. One such food is molasses, which is a byproduct of the refining process while producing sugar from sugarcane.
It is known to provide relief from menstruation-related issues in women, diabetes, cancer, stress, obesity, skin ailments like acne, enlarged prostate, constipation, anemia, and headaches. It also helps to maintain and improve electrolytic balance, bone health, sexual health, nervous system functioning, healing, hemoglobin percentage in blood, and promotes the growth of new cells in the body.
Molasses has a nutritional value that corresponds with its immense health benefits. It is a storehouse of essential vitamins like magnesium, calcium, manganese, copper, potassium, iron, chromium, phosphorus, and cobalt. It is also extremely rich in vitamins like vitamin B-6, riboflavin, thiamine, and niacin. It is a good source of compound carbohydrates and energy while containing very low amounts of fat and sodium. All these properties make it a much more attractive and healthy alternative to processed sugar.
Below are a few of the health benefits of molasses:
1. Molasses Relieves Symptoms of PMS:
Blackstrap molasses is an extremely rich source of iron. It is understood that women require more iron than men, according to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), since they lose blood, and hence some quantity of iron during the course of their menstrual cycle monthly. The daily requirement of iron in women increases once a girl attains puberty and starts her menstrual cycle. The requirement stays high through the majority of her lifetime – until menopause. Consuming molasses can help maintain the required iron levels.
Iron is also an essential component in altering the mood, which is heavily dependent on a very sensitive balance of hormones. The hormones include dopamine, serotonin, and several other vital hormones – the levels and activity of which are, in turn, dependent on iron levels in blood for a variety of reasons. This is among the major reasons why iron deficiency is associated with irregular sleep patterns, bad mood, lack of motivation, and low energy levels. Major side effects of PMS like mood fluctuation, mild depression, anxiety, and other mental issues may be caused due to iron deficiency.
Several of the minerals present in molasses such as manganese, magnesium, calcium etc. are also essential in providing relief from menstrual cramps, maintaining uterine muscle health and preventing in the clotting of blood.
2. Molasses Helps Maintain Skin and Hair Health:
Lipids present in the skin are responsible for giving it the vibrancy and glow associated with healthy skin. Free radicals are substances produced in the body through natural processes and can also be accumulated due to various environmental factors. These free radicals are responsible for accelerating the aging process by converting skin lipids into lipid peroxide. This is one of the major causes for pigmentation of the skin and development of dark spots. Molasses contains several vitamins and compounds which act as antioxidants. These antioxidants bind to the free radicals in the body and augment the body’s natural production of antioxidants. This helps to slow down the aging process, causing the skin to look healthy and young.
Molasses also contains lactic acid, which is essential for our dermatological health. Lactic acid acts as a natural treatment for acne and promotes overall skin health by combating other sin disorders.
Molasses is also known to promote the growth of new, healthy tissues, hence it is no wonder that it serves as a natural healing agent. Consuming molasses helps to accelerate the time required to heal wounds, burns, cuts etc.
Deficiency of iron, even by a small margin, may end up resulting in pale and cracking skin. Not just that, it also affects the overall health of the nails and hair. Magnesium contributes to healthy skin by fighting eczema, acne and wrinkles; and prevents hair loss and nail breakage.
Long term consumption of molasses has been known to improve the quality of hair, skin, and nails and even reduce the occurrence of grey hair.
3. Molasses Improves Bone Health:
Mollases has high content of calcium which is extremely beneficial for promoting bone health and strength. The body loses calcium everyday through nails, skin, stools, urine, sweat, and hair and it needs to be replenished at the earliest. Eating calcium rich foods like molasses ensures that the loss is offset.
Although calcium is a major component of bones and teeth, other minerals such as magnesium also play an important role in maintaining a healthy skeletal system. Molasses, being high in calcium is an ideal source of this mineral. Magnesium helps the absorption of calcium in the bones and strengthens them.
Being good for overall health, molasses can be added to daily diet without any issues, even for the elderly and infirm. This is very important since it is mostly the elderly who suffer from conditions like osteoporosis.
4. Molasses Can Treat Diabetes:
Diabetes is perhaps the most feared lifestyle disorder in today’s world. The high concentration of complex carbohydrates, in addition to the huge influx of vitamins and minerals like potassium, vitamin A, calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium provided by molasses plays a major role in treating several diseases.
Regular consumption of molasses has been proven to assist in reducing levels of plasma glucose even in short periods. While this is a great benefit, the capacity of molasses to reduce the spikes and falls in blood sugar is more important. The major damage caused by diabetes is due to the sharp spikes and falls associated with it. Controlling this aspect of diabetes or even regulating it to an extent allows the body to recover faster from the stress and greatly increases the impact of allopathic drugs on the disease.
Molasses also contains ample amounts of chromium. Chromium is directly responsible for the activity of insulin and glucose tolerance in the body. Deficiency of chromium can lead to reduced glucose tolerance which might lead to diabetes.
Hence, molasses can be used in conjunction with other oral hypoglycemic agents used for the treatment of type II diabetes.
5. Molasses Can Cure Cancer:
Molasses is known to house several antioxidants. Antioxidants essentially bind to entities called as free radicals. Free radicals are known to oxidize various components of cells and degrade them, which is a major cause for occurrence of cancer. The antioxidants present in molasses prevent DNA damage caused by the action of free radicals and prevents harmful mutations which may otherwise cause the development of cancerous cells. The large amount of vitamins present in molasses also help cells recover from degenerative stress and prevent them from becoming cancerous.
They have been known to prevent cancers of the mouth, colon, lung, throat, esophagus, and stomach.
6. Molasses Improves Blood Quality:
Oxygen is essential for the normal functioning of cells in the body. When the availability of free oxygen in the body reduces, it becomes difficult to carry out bodily processes effectively.
Blood is the medium for transport of oxygen to various parts of the body. Oxygen delivery via blood is made possible by iron which binds with hemoglobin – the oxygen carrying compound of the body.
The amount of hemoglobin in the body is essentially the amount of oxygen available to the body for various processes. Hemoglobin deficiency causes anemia. Molasses is a rich source of iron and helps in increasing hemoglobin levels in blood, which effectively means that more oxygen is available to the body for various processes.
7. Molasses Aids In Weight Loss:
Molasses is a great addition to a weight loss diet to prevent the effects of malnourishment. This is mostly useful for those who tend to overeat. Taken a few minutes before meals, molasses tends to satiate hunger and ensure that people do not overeat. It also contains several vitamins, minerals, and small amounts of proteins, which help in activating digestive enzymes, muscle building, and strengthening bones – which are great ways to increase metabolism and lose weight.
Another major point to note is that molasses has zero fat, which means that molasses can be consumed without worrying about increase in dietary fat levels. Also, it contains high quantity of complex sugars which impart very high nutritional content. This ensures that instant energy is provided to the body which is useful in eliminating the hunger pangs which arise after large gaps in meals and prevent overeating.. Another important fact is that it has a high glycemic index. This means that the energy boost from molasses is provided to the body at short intervals stretched over a duration of time and keeps the body satiated for a longer period of time.
This automatically helps in weight reduction without depriving the body of essential nutrients.
8. Molasses Combats Stress:
Molasses is rich in B vitamins, magnesium, and calcium which play a major role in the reduction of stress and anxiety. Vitamin B6 is involved in raising serotonin levels which is essential to combat depression, fatigue, and to control mood and prevent pain. In fact, low levels of vitamin B6 were found to cause depression.
Thus, it can be said that using molasses as a sweetener or even consuming it separately can help improve mental stress and issues of depression and anxiety.
Excess consumption of molasses can cause increased secretion of mucous, stomach cramps, diarrhea etc. However, these are rare cases and mostly seen only when consumption is excessively high. Moderate consumption of molasses does not present any major side effects. The best way to avoid side effects would be to start off with small quantities and build up to the desired intake levels.