Low iron is the most common nutrient deficiency in the United States and a leading cause of anemia. Fortunately, iron deficiency is usually treatable by dietary changes, supplements or a combination. If you are diagnosed with low iron, talk to your doctor about food recommendations that can help elevate your blood iron levels. Blackstrap molasses is made from the final boiling of sugar syrup. Compared with other molasses, it contains high concentrations of vitamins and minerals. It is rich in iron and can be incorporated into many recipes and meals.
Signs of Deficiency
Iron is important for the production of red blood cells to deliver oxygen from your lungs to the rest of your body. When iron deficiency progresses to anemia, the tissues and cells throughout your body become deprived of oxygen. As a result, you may become tired and weak. You may have trouble concentrating and experience shortness of breath, headache and dizziness. Other possible symptoms of iron deficiency include cold and numbness in the extremities, a craving for ice and cardiac arrhythmias.
Blackstrap molasses is a rich source of the type of iron found in plant foods. One tbsp. of blackstrap molasses provides 3.5 mg of iron. This represents over 19 percent of the daily recommended amount of iron for adult women before menopause. It also contains over 43 percent of the daily recommended amount for adult men, as well as adult women before menopause. Each serving of blackstrap molasses provides half of the recommended daily intake for toddlers, and 13 percent of the recommended daily intake for pregnant women.
Blackstrap molasses can be added to many meals. An easy way to boost your iron intake is to substitute blackstrap molasses for white sugar or other sweeteners. At breakfast, add blackstrap molasses to oatmeal or other hot cereal. Stir a spoonful of molasses into salad dressing at lunch and use it as a marinade for chicken, meat or fish. You can prepare a delicious substitute for hot tea or coffee by adding 1 tbsp. of blackstrap molasses to one cup of hot water, milk, soy milk or almond milk.
Vitamin C helps your body absorb iron from plant sources of iron such as blackstrap molasses. Try to eat foods high in vitamin C alongside blackstrap molasses. Citrus fruits and juices, cantaloupe, strawberries, sweet red peppers, tomatoes, cabbage and broccoli are all good choices. Foods high in calcium may interfere with your body's ability to absorb iron. If you are concerned about this aspect, avoid using milk and other calcium-rich foods along with blackstrap molasses. Take calcium supplements at a different time of day to avoid this interaction. Check with your doctor before using supplements, especially if you take prescription medicines.
- U.S. Center for Disease Control: Iron Deficiency
- National Heart Blood and Lung Institute: How Is Iron-Deficiency Anemia Treated?
- Food.com: Molasses Iron-Builder Recipe
- The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Does calcium interfere with iron absorption? by Leif Hallberg
- Linus Pauling Institute: Iron