When I started my journey with natural nutrition in 2007, I was enthusiastically introduced to a new sweeter called “Agave syrup”. It was being marketed as the “healthy” , “good-for-you”, low-glycemic alternative to sugar and honey and it seemed that EVERYONE in the natural health world was singing is praises.
I, however, remained very skeptical. You see, I have “reactive hypoglycemia” – the theory being that I over-secrete insulin when I eat simple sugars and subsequently end up in a dangerous hypo (low) glycemic (sugar) state. Because of this, and my knowledge of food chemistry, I scrutinized the stickiness of this agave syrup. STICKY = HIGH SUGAR. For me, it was as simple as that. But, just to be sure, I decided to do a little more investigation into what Agave was – and what a revelation! I learned that most Agave syrup on the shelves was just as processed at white sugar, containing little to no of healthy benefits of the plant from which it originates, and more importantly – it is almost pure fructose – in some batches, up to 90% fructose!
Do you remember what else is almost pure fructose? – High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) That wicked stuff that is in a lot of processed and packaged foods that many manufacturers in North America have scrambled to remove from their ingredient list in recent years – especially those targeted at children.
While it’s true that HFCS and Agave are lower on the Glycemic Index scale than refined white sugar, Agave’s high fructose concentration still increases the blood glucose levels, and studies have shown this can lead to insulin resistance, an increase in triglyceride levels and fatty-liver disease.
My recommendation is if you chose to use Agave, keep in mind it is not necessarily a “healthier” choice, and it’s still a form of SUGAR. Raw organic Agave nectar is a slightly better choice since the low temperatures used for processing help to maintain some of the natural minerals and enzymes. However, there are other much healthier options for sweetening your dishes. I love raw/unpasteurized honey for not only it’s delicious sweetness but also it’s naturally occurring minerals, enzymes, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. Other fantastic options are sucanat, coconut sugar, stevia (a wonderfully sweet sugar-free herb), apple sauce, and majdool dates.
Keep in mind, for optimum health, maintaining a healthy body weight and composition, all sugars should be consumed in tight moderation. Including sugar-concentrated fruits such as bananas, pineapple, and dried fruits.
Wishing you nourishment, wellness and happiness!