Molasses Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Molasses annotated
Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman 

Molasses is a thick, dark brown syrup derived from raw sugar. Molasses is produced during the refining process for use in baking. Since it's a byproduct of sugar, you might not expect molasses to be high in nutrients, but it's a surprising source of some minerals, such as potassium, calcium, and iron. While molasses is not something to eat on its own, it makes a nutritious substitute for refined sugar in some recipes.

Molasses Nutrition Facts

The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for 1 tablespoon (20g) of molasses.

  • Calories: 58
  • Fat: 0g
  • Sodium: 7.4mg
  • Carbohydrates: 15g
  • Fiber: 0g
  • Sugars: 15g
  • Protein: 0g

Carbs

Molasses is almost exclusively made up of carbohydrates in the form of sugar. A tablespoon of molasses provides 15 grams of carbohydrates from sugar.

Fats

Because all of the calories in molasses come from sugar, it is virtually fat-free.

Protein

Similar to fat, there is no protein in molasses.

Vitamins and Minerals

Unlike white table sugar, molasses is rich in certain vitamins and minerals, especially potassium. Molasses contains calcium, iron, magnesium, choline, and some B vitamins.

Health Benefits

While molasses is an added sugar that should be used in moderation, its micronutrient content provides certain health benefits, unlike traditional table sugar.

Lowers Blood Pressure

Potassium is well-known to help bring blood pressure down, and molasses is a great source. Just 1 tablespoon has 293 milligrams of potassium. Although we need about 4700 milligrams of potassium per day, molasses will get you there faster than most other sweeteners. Choose molasses as a heart-healthy alternative to white sugar.

May Aid in Cancer Prevention

Preliminary but promising research has found that compounds in sugar beet molasses show antioxidant and antitumor effects. Specifically, the compound cyanidin-3-O-glucoside chloride shows potential for protection against breast cancer, liver cancer, and colon cancer. Although more human research is needed, sugar beet molasses is suggested as a functional food additive and a more nutritious substitute to commonly consumed table sugar.

Aids Immunity

Molasses contains some zinc, which is known to support the activity of natural killer cells and T-lymphocytes. Although most people won't (and shouldn't) eat enough molasses to cover their daily zinc needs, the fact that molasses is free of fiber means the zinc and other minerals it contains are more easily absorbed.

Reduces Risk of Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a weakening of bones that typically happens over a long period of time. By including various sources of calcium in your diet, you can help ward off osteoporosis caused by calcium deficiency. A tablespoon of molasses has 41 milligrams of calcium, which helps contribute to the 1300 milligrams required by adults daily. The zinc in molasses is beneficial for bones as well.

Supports Red Blood Cells

Iron is an essential mineral required for the proper formation of red blood cells to prevent iron-deficiency anemia. Molasses provides almost 1 milligram of iron per tablespoon, which is 5% of the required daily intake. For vegetarians and vegans especially, molasses can be an enhanced replacement of table sugar that helps ensure higher iron intake to avoid deficiencies commonly seen in these diets.

Allergies

Molasses is not a common allergen. Although also rare, it is possible to be allergic to a natural chemical called para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA), which is found in molasses and other foods.

Molasses is often added in the making of brown sugar, so molasses allergies may also be spotted after eating brown sugar products. If you suspect any symptoms of a molasses allergy, such as hives, stomach issues, swelling, or trouble breathing, contact your doctor.

Adverse Effects

Molasses may contain sulfites (to prevent bacterial growth), so you’ll want to avoid consuming it if you have a sulfite allergy. Check food labels to determine if the molasses you are purchasing has been treated with sulfites.

It's important to keep in mind that molasses is a form of sugar. For anyone watching their sugar intake, especially for diabetes management, molasses should be used mindfully. Remember to count the carbohydrates in molasses if you are aiming for a specific daily limit.

Varieties

There are three general types of molasses: light, medium, and blackstrap. Molasses is the leftover syrup that remains after beet or cane sugar is processed into table sugar. Lighter molasses is harvested after just one extraction of sugar, so it tastes sweeter.

The most nutritious type of molasses is blackstrap molasses, which is obtained after the third extraction of cane sugar. Unfortunately, its bitter taste means that blackstrap molasses is often reserved for use in animal feed and industrial food production. Nonetheless, it is fine to use blackstrap molasses in cooking, once you get used to the flavor.

Blending molasses with a sugar solution is a common practice to produce a more uniform consistency. However, this takes away from some of the health benefits associated with molasses. Some types of molasses are treated with sulfur dioxide during processing. In commercial sales, it is more common to find unsulfured molasses, which retains a more appealing flavor.

When It's Best

Molasses can easily be found in the baking aisle of most grocery stores all year round. While it’s not unsafe to eat raw or plain molasses, it’s very dense and sticky and many don't find it enjoyable or easy to consume on its own.

Storage and Food Safety

Unopened molasses can be kept indefinitely in the pantry. However, for best quality, it is recommended that you use unopened molasses within 1–2 years of purchase. Once opened, molasses should be used within 6 months. Store molasses in an airtight container at room temperature.

How to Prepare

Molasses isn’t a food people regularly consume or use as a condiment. But it can be used as a sugar substitute in various recipes for baked goods such as cookies and brownies. Some enjoy using molasses to sweeten and flavor hot beverages like tea while others drizzle light molasses over oatmeal as a substitute for syrup or honey. Molasses is often used in baked beans and marinades for grilled meat. It is also the key ingredient in pumpernickel bread. You may also be interested in trying our recipe for a pomegranate molasses seltzer if you’re in the mood for a “mocktail.”

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Article Sources
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