Agave Nectar is a popular item in health food stores, and natural food stores across the country. And while most of us know that sugar & high fructose corn syrup are bad for our diet, Agave Nectar ranks right up there at the top alongside them too.
It was just about a month ago that my husband mentioned that we should get Agave Nectar and use as sweetener – he had heard it was a healthy alternative … unfortunately I don’t think he realized (at the time) the dangers of Agave and just assumed that since it was promoted so generously that it was a good option.
I can honestly say I have never once bought Agave Nectar or even used it in my own home… a few years ago I got samples by mail of syrup from a random company, but I threw them in the trash — I had no idea where they were sent from, why they were sent to me and Agave was something that I had read about as being a poor option so I felt comfortable with my choice.
Agave is BIG Business
In 2010 alone, the alternative sweetener industry netted a whopping $1.2 billion (src).
Manufacturers of Agave claim that their Agave Nectar is a great health alternative – that has led to lots of debate in the natural health community.
Now obviously manufacturers are going to say it’s healthy ~ why would they jeopardize their profits?
Agave Nectar is a syrup – it’s produced in Mexico from the Agave Tequilana (Tequila) plant. It is higher in both calories AND sweeter than regular sugar – however, the claim to fame with Agave is it’s effect on blood sugar levels. (Src)
How is Agave Syrup Made?
It’s original natural form holds some very strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. However… those do not carry over to the bottles of Agave on store shelves.
Agave is manufactured through a highly processed procedure that strips the naturally occurring agave juice of ALL nutritional value. The end result? Surprise: It contains more fructose than high fructose corn syrup. Even organic varieties are STILL highly processed.
In comparison to High Fructose Corn Syrup, Agave Sweetener hs a 2:1 ratio of fructose to glucose (while HFCS has a 1:1)… not to mention that it’s largely made of fructose, which is “the” most damaging form of sugar.
On the Weston A. Price site they mention just how similar Agave & High Fructose Corn Syrup are in terms of production:
According to Bianchi, agave “nectar” and HFCS “are indeed made the same way, using a highly chemical process dependent on genetically modified enzymes”. The manufacturing process also calls for caustic acids, clarifiers, filtration chemicals and so forth in the conversion of agave starches. The result is a high level of highly refined fructose in the remaining syrup, along with some remaining inulin. (read more HERE)
Of all the sweeteners out there on the market, Agave has the highest fructose content.
What Happens when you Consume Too Much Fructose?
Fructose is the most dangerous form of sugar – too much can lead to insulin resistance, and raise your chances for heart disease. Not to mention it is also a precursor for diabetes too.
Since Agave is not the best option – what do you use? If you are looking to cut back on sweetener but still have some opportunities that are healthier, try raw honey, dates or, even stevia.