Agave has become a taboo subject in the world of health and nutrition. May experts recommend it as an all natural and low glycemic sweetener, and many experts discredit it’s claim to be natural, raw or organic. So I am here to give you the FACTS on Agave, instead of my OPINION.
- Agave nectar (also known as agave syrup) is produced from the Agave Americana and tequiliana plants, the leaves are cut off the plant after it has aged 7 to 14 years. Then the juice is expressed from the core of the agave, called the piña.The juice is filtered, then heated to hydrolyze polysaccharides into simple sugars. The main polysaccharide is called inulin or fructosan and comprises mostly fructose units. The filtered, hydrolyzed juice is concentrated to a syrupy liquid, slightly thinner than honey, from light- to dark-amber, depending on the degree of processing. Because of the low temperatures used in processing many varieties (under 118°F) raw food enthusiasts generally regard agave nectar as a raw food.
- Agave is primarily fructose, which is the same sugar naturally occuring in fruit and in honey. Fructose has a lower glycemic index than table sugar (sucrose) making honey, fruit and agave better choices for people with blood sugar imbalances. Using honey, agave or fruit paste in recipes instead of table sugar is also healthier for blood glucose levels.
- Agave nectar contains inulin, which is a fiber that slows the absorption of sugar and inulin also tells your brain that you are full, which does not happen with artificial calorie free sweeteners or sugar.
- Agave nectar is sweeter than table sugar, causing you to use less.
- Agave has been around for thousands of years as an ingredient in food before mass production of food.
- The lighter syrups undergo less heating and a more thorough filtration to produce a more mildly flavored product that is neutral enough to be used in many culinary applications. The darker syrups are filtered less, and the solids left in the syrup make for a stronger nectar with a flavor sometimes compared to maple syrup.
- Agave nectar is man made. What comes from the plant is can not be used without being heated, which is called processing. Because it is done at a low enough temperature, it can legally be labeled RAW. Miel de Agave istraditionally made agave nectar used for over a thousand years, but this is not what we can buy commercially manufactured.
- If the Agave nectar is certified ORGANIC, Organic foods are foods that are produced using methods that do not involve modern synthetic inputs such as synthetic pesticides and chemical fertilizers. Organic foods are not processed using irradiation, industrial solvents, or chemical food additives.
- Organic food production is a heavily regulated industry.
I would now like to share with you some of the CONS or negatives posted regarding Agave and then follow up by more FACTS.
- The process by which agave glucose and inulin are converted into “nectar” is similar to the process by which corn starch is converted into HFCS. The agave starch is subject to an enzymatic and chemical process that converts the starch into a fructose-rich syrup—anywhere from 70 percent fructose and higher according to the agave nectar chemical profiles posted on agave nectar websites. They are indeed made the same way, using a highly chemical process with genetically modified enzymes. They are also using caustic acids, clarifiers, filtration chemicals and so forth in the conversion of agave starches into highly refined fructose inulin that is even higher in fructose content than high fructose corn syrup.
- Concentrated fructose , like in agave, is not found in fruit, or anywhere else in nature. When the sugar occurs in nature, it is often called “levulose” and is accompanied by naturally-occurring enzymes, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and fruit pectin. Concentrated fructose, on the other hand, is a man-made sugar created by the refining process.
So, there are the facts, you come to your own conclusion. So, many people have read articles like this and asked me, “Do you use Agave nectar?” and quite honestly the answer is…yes, I do. I have done my research and decided that agave is not a bad choice for me or my family. Now, I understand that is my opinion. If your opinion leads you to choose otherwise, I would like to leave you with other sweet alternatives that are unarguable 100% natural:
- Maple Syrup
- Raw Honey
- Sorghum Syrup