Here’s the Single Best Way to Get Calcium, Iron & Potassium. No, It’s Not Milk.
Lately, we've been obsessing over an old pantry item that is suddenly back on the radar, and with good reason. If you’re trying to be healthy and get enough calcium, iron, potassium and other vitamins and minerals in a nutrient-dense, whole-food, plant-based diet, then this is something you will want to add today and every day for your health. Don’t laugh: Molasses!
The last time I had heard of molasses was when my Southern mother used to use the expression something was "slow as molasses." Well, other than being slow, molasses is a super-nutrient and when mixed with a mug full of hot water, is a great alternative drink to tea or coffee when it comes to getting a lot of healthy elements into your diet— fast. We first heard of this trick from Caroline McClain, who makes it a daily habit for health purposes.
"The taste can take some getting used to, but as long as the water is hot enough, it can replace a cup of tea," she says. "Since I don’t eat meat, which people traditionally think of as the main source of iron in your diet, taking blackstrap molasses is one more way to gain iron from a plant source. It makes me feel like I'm taking care of my body."
The Beet tried the molasses tea in hot water with a slice of lemon and it was actually tastier than we anticipated. It had a fig-like taste, a tea-like consistency and we found ourselves going back to finish the cup and even add some more hot water to make it last longer. We all agreed this was a no-brainer to substitute for one cup of coffee in the middle of the day.
Jessica D'Argenio Waller, clinical nutritionist, concurs that molasses is a great way to get enough iron into your diet: "Just a spoonful of nutrient-dense blackstrap molasses is a simple way to boost your daily mineral intake without having to take an extra supplement," Waller says. "Boasting 191 mg of calcium (about 19% of the daily value), 3.2 mg of iron (about 8% of the daily value), and 352 mg of potassium (about 8% of the daily value) in one tablespoon, it's an easy way to combat anemia and improve bone density when you're following a primarily plant-based diet. Look for an un-sulfured, unsweetened variety to stir into your coffee, tea, or baking recipes."
The molasses to buy is “blackstrap,” which is unsweetened and ready to mix into any recipe, including cookies and cakes. Made from sugarcane or beet sugar, molasses provides the top calcium per gram of any plant around, and just one tablespoon is 191 milligrams of calcium or about 20 percent of your daily recommended consumption. As for potassium, which is essential from muscle function, molasses provides 352 milligrams per tablespoon which is more than ten times the amount in an 8-ounce serving of Gatorade.
Another benefit is the iron quotient, so if you are like many women and borderline anemic, iron is something you probably need more of, especially on a plant-based diet. Instead of an iron supplement, which Waller says many people don't love, molasses is a great alternative. "Taking supplemental iron can be difficult on the digestive system and may cause stomach upset or constipation," Waller says. "I always recommend a whole-food source of plant-based iron whenever possible, and blackstrap molasses is a great option for those who may be in need of a little extra daily iron. Because it's a non-heme (plant-based) form of iron, taking it with a vitamin-C-rich food (like lemon, kiwi or strawberries) will help increase its absorption in the body."
So we would add: Molasses may be slow, but its results are so worth it!
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