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?
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.
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.
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! ;)
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.
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.
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??
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 ?
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.