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Thoughts on molasses and maple syrup?

by (13983)
Updated about 8 hours ago
Created April 18, 2010 at 7:03 PM

I've seen the questions about honey and agave. I know we've discussed stevia and truvia. So what about blackstrap molasses and maple syrup? Are they better or worse than honey?

Here's some info about blackstrap molasses:

The third boiling of the sugar syrup makes blackstrap molasses. The majority of sucrose from the original juice has been crystallized, but blackstrap molasses is still mostly sugar by calories. However, unlike refined sugars, it contains significant amounts of vitamins and minerals. Blackstrap molasses is a source of calcium, magnesium, potassium, and iron; one tablespoon provides up to 20% of the daily value of each of those nutrients.

Here's some info about maple syrup:

[Maple syrup] is low in fructose compared to other popular sweeteners...

So are blackstrap molasses and/or maple syrup viable options for a sweet cheat? Is honey better?

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4393 · December 29, 2012 at 11:33 PM

cronometer has some good breakdowns of both, http://www.cronometer.com/food.html?food=53727&grams=20.795&measure=129430 & http://www.cronometer.com/food.html?food=1460&grams=20&measure=4525

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11478 · May 23, 2012 at 12:35 AM

Granted, the boiling process causes vitamin depletion, but this is not the same as turning syrup into "poison." Also, as OP pointed out, molasses is a good source of minerals, which are not destroyed by boiling.

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11478 · August 22, 2011 at 11:27 PM

Jack, I wish more P-Hackers would peruse old threads. Then we wouldn't have so many duplicate posts!

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18412 · August 22, 2011 at 8:41 PM

so funny. i was just reading through this thread because we were using some blackstrap molasses in a recipe the last night. I just read through this answer and was like... oh that's a pretty good answer. Then saw my comments underneath! Then was gonna upvote but the up arrow is already orange! haha. Maybe my memory is fading or something :) Thanks again Ed.

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11478 · March 03, 2011 at 6:19 PM

@Jack, thank you for your kind words

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18412 · March 03, 2011 at 5:47 PM

very good answer ed with some interesting data. you're correct about the honey. masterjohn did a write up on this as well.

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4089 · April 21, 2010 at 2:03 PM

@gilliebean: I wouldn't call it an order of Okay-ness, as I'm not a nutritionist, just an anthropology buff, but I would call that ranking an order of Paleoness and hypothesize that that might give some indication of okayness :).

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13983 · April 21, 2010 at 5:56 AM

So would you suggest an order of okay-ness? As in: 1) honey, 2) maple, and 3) molasses?

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10 Answers

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11478 · April 19, 2010 at 1:43 AM

From a fructose perspective, honey, maple syrup and molasses are all about 50% fructose. The monosaccharide form of fructose, which is found in corn syrup, is supposed to be the most harmful. Surprisingly, the honey has about 42gm of monosaccharide fructose per 100gm serving, while molasses has about 13gm and maple syrup has about 4gm ( http://www.reducetriglycerides.com/reader_triglycerides_low_fructose_fruit.htm ). So with regard to monosaccharide fructose, maple syrup would appear to be the least toxic.

However, in the previous thread on honey ( http://paleohacks.com/questions/3473/does-honey-sugar ) studies are cited which show that honey does not have the same harmful effects as other sweeteners, and may even be beneficial. This is probably because honey is a whole food whose ingredients have complex interactions that somehow mitigate some of the possible harm from the fructose. While maple syrup and molasses were not included in those studies, they are not whole foods. Extensive boiling probably destroys the nutritional integrity of maple syrup and molasses. For that reason, I would favor the honey despite its high monosaccharide fructose content.

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11478 · August 22, 2011 at 11:27 PM

Jack, I wish more P-Hackers would peruse old threads. Then we wouldn't have so many duplicate posts!

Af1d286f0fd5c3949f59b4edf4d892f5
18412 · August 22, 2011 at 8:41 PM

so funny. i was just reading through this thread because we were using some blackstrap molasses in a recipe the last night. I just read through this answer and was like... oh that's a pretty good answer. Then saw my comments underneath! Then was gonna upvote but the up arrow is already orange! haha. Maybe my memory is fading or something :) Thanks again Ed.

6426d61a13689f8f651164b10f121d64
11478 · March 03, 2011 at 6:19 PM

@Jack, thank you for your kind words

Af1d286f0fd5c3949f59b4edf4d892f5
18412 · March 03, 2011 at 5:47 PM

very good answer ed with some interesting data. you're correct about the honey. masterjohn did a write up on this as well.

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3690 · December 27, 2012 at 8:59 AM

The rank of "okayness" is moot when we're consuming say, a tablespoon of the stuff. Make it a high percentage of your calories, such as 50% or higher, and the ranking of nutrient density becomes far more important.

By the time you've reached that stage though, there are definitely larger issues to deal with than the nutrient profile of different types of sugar.

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4089 · April 21, 2010 at 3:13 AM

I lean towards re-enactment rather than nutritionism, and as I'm diabetic I steer pretty clear of sweeteners, so YMMV. That being said, there's plenty of evidence for hunter/gatherers eating honey, although I suspect that it was a very rare treat. Bees have been around since the Cretaceous and are widely distributed, so honey would have been available throughout our evolutionary history. I'm inclined to think it's probably pretty safe in moderation on that account.

Molasses is definitely neolithic.

Various Northeastern First Nations groups are known to have made maple syrup before contact; how recent a development it is is anybody's guess. Sugar maples being North American, though, we only would have had access to it very recently.

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4089 · April 21, 2010 at 2:03 PM

@gilliebean: I wouldn't call it an order of Okay-ness, as I'm not a nutritionist, just an anthropology buff, but I would call that ranking an order of Paleoness and hypothesize that that might give some indication of okayness :).

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13983 · April 21, 2010 at 5:56 AM

So would you suggest an order of okay-ness? As in: 1) honey, 2) maple, and 3) molasses?

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1229 · April 19, 2010 at 1:39 AM

I, personally, go with blackstrap molasses when looking for a sweetener. I do know that it's nutrient profile is superior to almost any other. I base most of my food decisions on my taste buds and cravings (which is incredibly reliable when my system is clean of junk) and molasses is the one sweet thing that I occasionally crave, usually about 1x/month.

Obviously this is totally anecdotal, but that's all I got! ;)

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10 · May 23, 2013 at 12:24 AM

I think that minerals are a more important building block for good health. Vitamins you will get from your vegetables and fruit. Heat may deplete vitamins but not minerals. So the heat factor on maple syrup does not affect the mineral content. So I think that maple syrup is the healthy alternative.

Vitamins- Honey contains more vitamins than maple syrup. Honey is a significant source of vitamin C, of which maple syrup has none. Honey also has vitamin B6, niacin and folate, while maple syrup does not, and contains four times more riboflavin. Maple syrup does, however, contain thiamin, which honey does not. They both contain pantothenic acid, although honey contains twice as much.

Minerals- Maple syrup contains more minerals than honey. Maple syrup has considerably more calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc and copper per serving than honey. Maple syrup is also a significant source of the mineral manganese. Both honey and maple syrup contain equivalent proportions of phosphorus, sodium and selenium. Honey contains fluoride, whereas maple syrup does not, and has about half the sodium content.

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5650 · March 17, 2013 at 2:10 AM

i am going to try molasses for my anemia. i know it's not paleo but i don't even care at this point.

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584 · December 29, 2012 at 10:24 PM

I don't consider molasses a good thing in that it's a lot of sugar, but I use it with my eyes wide open about what it is. It did help me add more nutrients to recover from pregnancies even before I was gluten-free.

Right now, I'm using it to transition into eating squash without needing brown sugar. It allows me to add a little of that flavor without as much sweetness until I can get used to squash without that flavor.

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615 · December 27, 2012 at 1:18 PM

use RAW honey..

and keep in mind its health properties and very much dependant the nectar source..

Manuka honey and Sidr honey for example bieng highly medicinal..

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0 · December 05, 2012 at 2:11 AM

I am basing this just on feel, this morning when I had molasses roasted pumpkins, the famous 'fog' descended on my brain. Is it because of our unique make up biologically that all of us react differently and while a food might not be paleo to you it might be paleo to me ?

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0 · May 22, 2012 at 11:36 AM

I was all for blackstrap until I read a thread from raw foods that has me totally confused. Blackstrap, according to the thread, is nothing more than charred syrup, considered by raw food ppl as "poison". the nutritional value in the molasses is completely void because of the boiling process. B vitamins cannot tolerate high heat and the raw food gang commented that the "char" in the molasses makes it an "enemy" of humans.....So, where are all the nutritional gurus out there that can make sense of the debate??

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11478 · May 23, 2012 at 12:35 AM

Granted, the boiling process causes vitamin depletion, but this is not the same as turning syrup into "poison." Also, as OP pointed out, molasses is a good source of minerals, which are not destroyed by boiling.

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