Allergies And Other Precautions
Agave nectar is both gluten-free and allergen-free. Honey is naturally gluten-free as well but, due to being created from pollen, it is not completely allergen-free. Although allergies to honey are rare, there are some people who cannot tolerate honey very well.
When it comes to choosing agave or honey based on the claims that they are superfoods or that they will control blood sugar, Kimberly Gomer, MS, RD, LDN, the director of nutrition at Pritikin Longevity Center, cautions against automatically ascribing to these claims without speaking with a healthcare provider.
There isnt any credible science that points to agave being a superfood,” Gomer says. “It, by itself, is not harmful, but of course, it depends on how much and who is consuming it. All sugar, including agave , will raise blood sugar and aggravate insulin so anyone who is diabetic, pre-diabetic, or insulin-resistant would want to avoid consuming much or any of it.
Potential Health Benefits Of Agave
Here are some of the benefits of agave:
It’s low on the glycemic index . If you have diabetes, a low-GI diet may help you control your blood sugar.
It can help your metabolism. Vitamin B6, which is found in agave, plays a big role in how your body breaks down food, particularly proteins and carbohydrates.
It can help you and your baby when you’re pregnant. Vitamin B6 may also reduce morning sickness. Folate, which is also present in agave, helps develop your baby’s nervous system.
It can help with depression. Vitamin K and folate in agave syrup may offer mental health benefits. Studies have found higher levels of vitamin K are tied to a lower risk of depression. Folate may also ease symptoms of depression, but research is limited.
It could help your heart. Vitamin B6 helps keep your homocysteine levels low. That protects you from heart disease and stroke.
What Is Agave Nectar
Also called agave syrup, its a sweetener derived from several agave species, including Agave americana, Agave tequilana , and Agave saimiana.
The plants are native to the Americas including Mexico.
The agave syrups main components are fructose, glucose, and sucrose.
You can find a variety of agave nectars on the market, including amber, light, dark and raw.
You can use the sweetener in drinks, desserts, veggie, meat, and seafood dishes.
You can also use it as a dressing on top of pancakes, French toast, and waffles.
Hence, its an ingredient you can use in multiple ways.
Though the plants are native to the Americas, China, France, the USA, and the Netherlands produce the highest quantity of agave nectar.
With the demand for the syrup going up, more countries are producing the same.
So, why is it gaining so much popularity? Maybe its because of its taste? We dont know so lets now check out what the syrup tastes like in the next section.
#What Does Agave Nectar Taste Like?
Since its a sweetener, we have an idea, but what does it taste like actually? Its sweeter than sugar and honey.
But when compared to them and maple syrup, however, it has a relatively neutral flavor.
Its one of the reasons why many home cooks prefer to use it instead of other sweeteners.
However, it has a high fructose content, so those who are intolerant to the substance should consider the aspect.
The Spanish-speaking population also calls it agua miel, which means honey water in the language.
Read Also: What Is Worse For Diabetics Sugar Or Carbs
The Adverse Effect Of High Fructose Content
Agave Nectar: A sweetener thats even worse
Individuals prone to gastrointestinal discomfort must take a step away from agave. Agree that it has less sugar content and will have minimal impact on your blood sugar levels due to its low GI score, but the high fructose content may make it more difficult for your body to process.
Glucose and fructose look comparatively the same, but they have entirely diverse impacts on your body.
Glucose is an inconceivably imperative molecule. It is found in numerous healthy nourishments, such as natural products and vegetables, and your body produces it to create beyond any doubt that you continuously have enough.
In reality, all living cells harbor glucose since this molecule is imperative to live.
Devouring excess added fructose can wreak havoc on your metabolic health and may contribute to insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes, as suggested by various studies.
As already mentioned earlier, agave contains 85% of fructose, which is more than a normal body intake.
This can cause significant increases in long-term blood sugar and insulin levels, strongly raising your risk of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.
High fructose consumption can increase LDL cholesterol and oxidize LDL.
It may also cause belly fat accumulation, as suggested by another study.
Honey Can Strengthen Your Immune System
Do you suffer from seasonal allergies? If that’s the case, then you might want to invest in some local honey. When producing honey, bees gather nectar from flowers in the area. The honey produced contains trace amounts of pollen from those flowers. Consuming local honey will boost your antioxidant intake, and also help strengthen your immune system to allergens in your area and provide relief from the symptoms.
For an immune boosting recipe try out this Honey Lime Millet Salad!
Also Check: What Can You Eat If You Have Sugar Diabetes
Whats The Glycemic Index Of Agave Nectar
The big selling point of agave is of course its low Glycemic Index measure. Just how low?
Nutrition and Dietetics expert Ginn tells us the GI measure of agave nectar is 32, which is rather low on the 0-100 scale therefore it may well have a lesser effect in spiking your blood glucose.
However, agave contains fructose and glucose similar to High Fructose Corn Syrup . The common concern from consumers is that HFCS may be associated with obesity and insulin resistance in adults, she adds.
Why Should We Care How High The Glycemic Index Of Food Is
For one thing, this metric can be incredibly important for people with diabetes. Diabetes is a health condition characterized by too-high blood sugar levels, so it involves near constant blood sugar regulation. Given that, it makes sense that someone with diabetes would care about how certain foods would affect their blood sugar levels.
But the glycemic index can also be useful for just about anyone. When we eat, our bodies release a hormone called insulin. This hormone works to convert glucose into energy. Any excess glucoseso, glucose that isn’t immediately turned into energygets stored in fat calls to be used as energy later.
“The higher a food is in glucose, the higher it raises blood sugar levels,” Dr. Naidoo says, so foods that are higher in glucose tend to have higher GIs. She adds that high-glucose foods can also be tough for our bodies to process. Over time, this can wear out our body’s ability to process glucose in the first place, lead to sugar cravings and dependence, impact mood and energy levels, and more. “Continually eating high-sugar foods can exhaust the body’s ability to metabolize glucose with insulin,” Dr. Naidoo says. ” has been associated with type 2 diabetes, obesity, and heart diseaseamong other conditions.”
Don’t Miss: How To Control Blood Sugar Type 1 Diabetes
Facts About Agave Plant
The Agave plant is specialized for its sweetening properties. In ancient times, Agave was used for medicinal purposes. Agave sugars are fermented to make tequila. Eventually, it became popular in the health and wellness world.
It is considered a healthier substitute for sugar and a diabetic-friendly sweetener. But the question here is, is it?
The agave plant grows from the southwestern U.S. through the northern part of South America. Its the same plant used to produce tequila in Mexico.
Most of the agave sweeteners originate from the blue agave plant. The agave plant moreover produces nectar containing huge sums of sugar called fructose.
Many health-conscious people are directed away from refined white sugar and pick agave nectar or stevia to satisfy their sugar needs. These elective sweeteners are frequently more characteristic or less highly processed than table sugar and counterfeit sweeteners.
However, both are determined from multistep preparing strategies.
Agave nectar is processed by heat, altering crude agaves natural nutrition values and bringing down its antioxidant content.
It subsequently does not have a noteworthy nutritional value and contains lesser potassium, calcium, and magnesium. Agave contains less glucose and more fructose. The plants core contains aguamiel, the sweet substance used to produce agave syrup.
Does Agave Spike Blood Sugar
Agave nectar has grown in popularity as an alternative sweetener since the early 2000s. Fans of agave nectar prefer it to table sugar and other sweeteners because of its lighter flavor, natural source and less damaging physiological effects on blood sugar spikes. However, not all health experts are convinced of agaves benefits, and MayoClinic.com advises that you should enjoy agave nectar, like all sweeteners, in moderation.
Also Check: How Much Grams Of Sugar Per Day To Lose Weight
Agave Is Free Of Common Allergens
If you’re allergic to certain plant-based foods, then agave is here to save the day. As a low allergy food, very few people experience an allergic reaction when consuming agave. This makes agave an excellent sweetener to use in recipes where you’re accommodating for those with food allergies. Aside from being a low allergen, agave is also gluten free, nut-free and vegan.
Is Agave Nectar A Healthier Alternative To Sugar
Even most children can tell you that excess sugar isn’t healthy, unless of course they are bargaining for just one more piece of Halloween candy! A high sugar diet may lead to cavities and obesity and in turn, influence diabetes and heart disease. This may have you thinking about alternative ways to sweeten foods, such as agave nectar.
Agave nectar isn’t truly a nectar, but rather a syrup produced by the fibrous core of the agave plant. It’s processed by breaking down these fibrous carbohydrates into simple sugars, primarily fructose. There’s been much dispute regarding the role of fructose in the diet, as some professionals have blamed fructose and high fructose corn syrup for our nation’s obesity epidemic. While it’s tough to say that it’s had a causative effect on obesity, agave nectar does in fact contain more calories and grams of sugar than table sugar . However, because it’s 1.5 times sweeter than sugar, you can use less of it.
Unfortunately, agave nectar has been promoted as being a healthier alternative to table sugar. That’s because it has a low glycemic index . Agave nectar will not raise blood glucose levels as rapidly as table sugar, but even the American Diabetes Association says that agave is still sugar it will still raise blood glucose levels and is far from a healthy choice. Whether sugar, agave, honey, maple syrup or others, simply use less!
Cinnamon Plum Quinoa
1 cup water
¼ cup chopped pecans
Optional: milk and vanilla yogurt for serving
Also Check: What The Best Sugar Replacement
How Do You Get Agave Syrup
In the old days, in the time of the Mexican natives, the plant was allowed to grow for 7 to 10 years, and then cut, remove its sap, and obtain the popular agave syrup. However, for every 20 liters of this sap, they produced less than two liters of this syrup. This is why it is now made through a refining process. And this is where we find part of the problem.
Today, the process of making/wining agave syrup is quite different: through a refining process, the different fructose molecules are extracted from the inulin found in the agave bulb.
While it is true that the fluid initially contains fructans , using different chemicals and enzymes, traditional agave syrup is converted into a kind of syrup rich in fructose, so that the original liquid has ended up losing all its nutritional value.
In other words, as with refined sugar, the production process destroys each and every one of the healthy properties of the Agave plant.
Is Agavethe Earthy Sugar Alternative Popping Up In Cookies Ice Cream Candy Granola And Even Salsa And Spaghetti Saucehealthful Hype Or Downright Dangerous
Medically reviewed in April 2021
Bethenny Frankel adds agave syrup to tequila and sells it in her premixed Skinnygirl Margaritas. Celeb chef Travis London bakes it into “guilt-free” vanilla cupcakes. And Gourmet magazine dubbed it “nimble nectar.” But is agavethe earthy sugar alternative popping up in cookies, ice cream, candy, granola, and even salsa and spaghetti saucehealthful, hype, or downright risky?
This liquid sweetener is made from the sweet nectar at the heart of a Mexican desert plant — yep, from the same succulent used for making tequila. Makers of agave syrup claim that it saves you calories, keeps blood sugar low, and is just plain better for you than conventional sweeteners because it’s “natural” and sometimes “organic.”
Is any of that true? We dug in and found out.
CLAIM: Agave syrup is lower in calories than table sugar and high-fructose corn syrup . VERDICT: Hype.
Since agave syrup is about 25% sweeter than conventional sweeteners, like honey and refined sugar, you need less in your morning coffee and favorite muffin recipe. But at 60 calories per tablespoon, it has about 25% more calories than mainstream sweeteners . So to get the same amount of sweetness, you need the same number of calories.
CLAIM: It’s more healthful. VERDICT: Nope.
CLAIM: It’s “natural.” VERDICT: Pretty much.
CLAIM: It’s good for cooking. VERDICT: If you’re careful.
Recommended Reading: How Many Carbs And Sugar Can You Have On Keto
Glycemic Index And Blood Sugar
The glycemic index of a food refers to how the carbohydrates in the food affect blood sugar. Foods with a high glycemic index increase blood sugar more significantly and quickly than low- or medium-glycemic foods. Everyone should include more low-glycemic foods in their diet, but closely monitoring and balancing high- and low-glycemic foods is especially important for diabetics, whose day-to-day health and wellness heavily depends on regulating their blood sugar levels. Agave nectar has a lower glycemic index than table sugar and most other sweeteners, so spikes in blood sugar are not as drastic or harmful. Therefore, the American Diabetes Association lists it as a suitable option for diabetics.
Where Does Agave Come From
Agave is produced from the blue agave succulent plant in Mexico. Agaves are large, spikey plants that resemble cactus but they are actually related to the aloes such as Aloe vera.
Due to its high content of natural carbohydrates including inulin and sugars , blue agave is the preferred species for producing the syrup. This is a different agave species from that used as the basis for tequila.
Don’t Miss: Does Fiber Lower Blood Sugar
What Is Agave Used For
Picture Recipe:Berry Morning Muffin
Agave packs 20 calories per teaspoon, five more than granulated sugar, but, like honey, it’s sweeter than sugar, so you need less to achieve the same level of sweetness. But unlike honey, it’s vegan, so it’s a great alternative for vegan baking. You’ll also find it commonly used to sweeten marinades and drinks.
When using agave, try using use one-third less agave nectar than you would white sugar and reduce other liquids by one-fourth. But, depending on your palate, don’t be afraid to mess with the ratio to get your preferred level of sweetness down pat!
Kimberly Gomer Ms Rd Ldn
All sugar, including agave , will raise blood sugar and aggravate insulin.
Those trying to stabilize their blood sugar should lean toward other sweeteners like Stevia, suggests Gomer. Additionally, if you have diabetes, pre-diabetes, or are insulin-resistant, talk to a healthcare provider before changing your diet to determine which sweeteners are right for you, including whether you should choose agave or honey.
Recommended Reading: Do Peaches Raise Blood Sugar
How Agave And Honey Are Made
Agave and honey are processed very differently. Knowing how each ends up on grocery store shelves or farmer’s market stand may influence your decision when choosing between the two.
To make agave, the juice must first be extracted from the agave plant. The juice is then filtered and heated to break the components down into a simple sugar known as fructose, which is condensed into a syrup.
Because agave goes through multiple steps, it is considered a processed foodeven when labeled “raw” agave.
Bees produce honey by collecting nectar from plants. This nectar is stored in their stomachs and taken back to the hive where it is passed from bee to bee to lower its water content to 18%, which is when it is pushed into the hive’s wax chambers before being collected.
Unlike agave, honey does not have to be processed before consuming it and can be eaten in its raw form. However, certain brands of honey are heated to remove bacteria and prevent crystallization. This process is called pasteurization.
Winner: Real Maple Syrup
Real Maple wins in this head to head due to Maple Syrup’s high nutritional value compared to the highly refined Agave Nectar!
Disclaimer: We are not encouraging you, the consumer, to put more sugar in your diet. Instead, we are suggesting that when you do choose sugar, choose real maple, the best alternative.
If interested, read more here:
Don’t Miss: What To Take To Raise Blood Sugar
Applesauce And Other Fruit Pures
Supplanting sugar with applesauce or purées of other natural products like bananas is an amazing way to diminish your refined sugar admissions.
Consider this swap in formulas for cakes, treats, biscuits, and bread. All-natural products offer well-being benefits due to their supplements. For case, squashed bananas are tall in folate, manganese, magnesium, and vitamins B6 and C.
Cooking And Baking With Agave
Some PWDs report that they do enjoy and benefit from agave. Jeff Cohen, a type 2, shared in an online forum: Ive had great success with agave. I also like the appealing taste, something most other sweeteners dont provide. He points out that most of the warnings hes seen were for a few particular brands of agave Volcanic Nectar accused of adding fillers like maltose, which have their own long list of ill effects. Jeff believes that not all agave should be written off.
Yet many others disagree. Brian Cohen, a type 2 known in the Diabetes Community for his healthy cooking skills and enthusiasm, says hes definitely not a fan. My understanding is that agave syrup and nectar are different, agave syrup is closer to table sugar while agave nectar can be nearly 90% fructose. I suspect that out in the real world, agave syrup would have about the same effect on blood sugars as table sugar Personally I never buy or use anything with a high fructose content like agave syrup/nectar.
I have found that other sweeteners such as stevia, sugar alcohols or even sucralose can sometimes have a different, slightly bitter taste, but I dont think it noticeably affects dishes, he adds.
Still, one noted advantage of agave is that it is extremely concentrated, so you can use a fraction of the amount in a recipe as you would with other sweeteners.
She provides some helpful details on how PWDs should think about agave:
Recommended Reading: Does High Blood Sugar Make You Dizzy