Blackstrap molasses is a byproduct of sugar production.
Sugar production starts with boiling sugarcane juice to crystalize the sugar, which is then filtered to separate it from the juice. This leaves a thick, brown liquid called molasses.
It’s boiled two more times to create blackstrap, which is even thicker and darker than regular molasses and characterized by a bitter taste.
Because it’s boiled three times, blackstrap molasses is more nutrient-dense than other types of molasses, which explains why it has recently gained popularity as a supplement.
People often use it as a sweetener, spread, or topping for yogurt or oatmeal. Although it’s also a popular home remedy for anemia, arthritis, stress, PMS symptoms, and blood sugar spikes, few of these remedies are supported by science.
Therefore, you may want to know whether using blackstrap as a sweetener or supplement is healthy after all.
Here are 6 science-based benefits of blackstrap molasses.
Blackstrap molasses is a nutrient-rich sugar byproduct. Just 1 tablespoon (15 mL) provides (1,
Blackstrap molasses is composed primarily of sugar.
However, unlike refined sugar — which has no nutritional value — blackstrap molasses packs plenty of iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus.
In fact, ounce per ounce, blackstrap molasses contains more iron than eggs, more calcium than milk, and more potassium than any other food (3).
In addition, it provides 18 amino acids (1).
Unlike refined sugar, blackstrap molasses offers vitamins and minerals like iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, and vitamin B6.
Blackstrap molasses is a plant-based food that’s rich in iron. As such, it’s often used as a supplement to treat iron deficiency anemia (IDA), which is a condition caused by the malabsorption or poor dietary intake of iron (1, 3,
It has 2–3.5 times the amount of iron as light and dark molasses, which are produced after the first and second boiling of molasses, respectively (
What’s more, although blackstrap molasses is a source of plant-based iron, which your body typically doesn’t absorb as well as iron from meat, its iron bioavailability is around 85%, which is considered high (
The bioavailability of a nutrient represents the proportion that can enter your bloodstream and have an active effect.
Blackstrap molasses is often recommended alongside other plant-based iron sources like leafy greens, soy products, and legumes (
Blackstrap molasses is a rich source of plant-based iron that may help treat iron deficiency anemia.
Blackstrap molasses may work as a natural remedy for childhood constipation (
Constipation occurs when you have difficulty passing stools, which is an important issue in children’s health (
Evidence suggests that a daily dose of 0.5 mL of blackstrap molasses per pound of body weight (1 mL per kg) for a month may improve defecation frequency and reduce abdominal pain in children with constipation (
Researchers believe that polysaccharides — a type of carb in blackstrap molasses — may act as dietary fiber, thus improving stool consistency and easing bowel movements (
Additionally, because low potassium levels often lead to constipation, blackstrap molasses’ high potassium content may regulate muscle contractions to promote evacuation (
Blackstrap molasses is commonly used as a home remedy for childhood constipation because it may improve defecation frequency and reduce abdominal pain.
Molasses is a rich source of antioxidants (1, 3).
Antioxidants are compounds that combat free radicals, which are molecules that may damage your cells when present in high amounts. In turn, too many free radicals may lead to oxidative stress and numerous related diseases (
Molasses is especially rich in polyphenol antioxidants — and likely boasts more polyphenols than other sugarcane products like juice and syrup (
Research associates polyphenol intake with preventing, delaying, or reducing the effects of chronic illnesses, including heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and cancer (
All types of molasses, including blackstrap, are rich sources of antioxidants, which help fight numerous chronic diseases.
Calcium is the most abundant mineral in your body, comprising most of your bone structure (
Bones are constantly being rebuilt through a process that requires the regular release and reabsorption of calcium.
However, poor calcium intake over time may lead to a loss of bone mass, putting you at risk of osteoporosis — a condition that leads to fragile bones and increases your risk of fractures (
Research shows that calcium supplements may reduce osteoporosis risk. As blackstrap molasses provides 10% of the DV for this mineral per single tablespoon (15 mL), its intake may promote bone health (3,
Blackstrap molasses is a good source of calcium, which may support bone health and reduce your risk of osteoporosis.
Blackstrap molasses’ high iron content may promote healthy hair.
Hair loss is often associated with vitamin and mineral deficiencies due to their role in hair cell growth and function, although research is mixed on the role of iron itself (
Research shows that iron deficiency is common in women with hair loss. If you have this condition, iron supplements are often recommended (
Additionally, iron deficiency may play a part in hair turning gray during childhood and early adulthood. Thus, supplementing with this mineral may improve signs of premature hair graying (
All the same, specific research on blackstrap molasses is needed.
Blackstrap molasses may promote healthy hair due to its high iron content. However, research on iron deficiency and hair loss is conflicting.
Blackstrap molasses is reportedly used to treat additional ailments. Still, you should keep in mind that scientific evidence doesn’t support any of these uses.
If you’re looking to treat any of the following conditions, you should consult your doctor rather than self-prescribe blackstrap molasses.
You may hear claims that blackstrap molasses treats arthritis, ADHD, and high blood sugar, but scientific evidence doesn’t support these notions.
Blackstrap molasses is a nutritious byproduct of sugarcane production.
Unlike refined sugar, it’s naturally rich in antioxidants, iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, and vitamin B6.
As such, it may relieve constipation, help treat anemia, and support bone and hair health.
All the same, numerous other health claims aren’t backed by science, and more research is needed in general. If you’re interested in using blackstrap molasses to treat a health condition, it’s best to first consult your doctor.
Last medically reviewed on December 20, 2021
This article is based on scientific evidence, written by experts and fact checked by experts.
Our team of licensed nutritionists and dietitians strive to be objective, unbiased, honest and to present both sides of the argument.
This article contains scientific references. The numbers in the parentheses (1, 2, 3) are clickable links to peer-reviewed scientific papers.