Blackstrap molasses is another contender when it comes to sugar replacements. Molasses are viscous liquid byproducts that come from the sugar extraction process. This is what is left after the sugar cane is crushed to be converted to a sugar. It starts life as a juice and is then boiled to create the thick blackstrap molasses.
As this substance is what’s left essentially once the sugar has been removed that makes it significantly less sweet than other types of molasses – and less sweet than refined sugar as well. Nevertheless, it still contains some sugar compounds which make it a viable sweetener.
The main reason that this alternative has been rising to prominence, is that it provides a fair amount of nutritional value. Here you’ll find small amounts of manganese (an antioxidant used to synthesize fatty acids), copper (which aids with iron absorption), iron and calcium. This isn’t exactly a super-food and no one is about to recommend that you take it as a supplement. There are plenty better sources of nutrition out there. Really then, the point of blackstrap molasses is simply that it’s better than regular sugar. Table sugar is a completely ‘empty calorie’ meaning that it provides zero health benefits. With blackstrap, you can at least kid yourself that you’re getting some health benefits from it.
Blackstrap molasses contains sucrose, fructose and glucose in a composition that results in a glycemic index of 55. This is about half as much as table sugar, slightly more than coconut sugar and still not ideal. In other words, it’s once again ‘better’ than regular sugar but will still carry many of the same issues and risks.
Blackstrap molasses can be used in dishes and baked goods but doesn’t provide quite the same sweet flavor as the genuine article. Its flavor is somewhat Earthy, even ‘bittersweet’, so for those with a very strong ‘sweet tooth’ it may not quite be enough to properly replace sugar.
Many people recommend instead using blackstrap molasses on top of sugar, so that you’re using less sugar. This of course will reduce the existing benefits, so whether you deem it to be worth the effort is a decision that you will have to make.