The Agave 411

So it turns out that the wonder sweetener Agave isn’t as wonderful as we all thought. Sigh. It seems as though it is higher in fructose than any other common sweetener – which includes high-fructose corn syrup.

I’ve stopped using agave myself and no longer recommend it as a healthy sweetener. The reason agave ranks relatively low on the glycemic index is because it has a high content of fructose. Fructose does not readily raise blood sugar (glucose) levels because the body doesn’t metabolize it well. New research  suggests that excessive fructose consumption deranges liver function and promotes obesity. The less fructose you consume, the better. – Dr. Andrew Weil

Agave is not the nectar or sap from the Yucca/Agave plant but rather a conversion of the root bulb using caustic acids, clarifiers, filtration chemicals and genetically modified enzymes.

Just because agave doesn’t raise blood sugar doesn’t mean it’s not caloric. A teaspoon of agave has as many calories as a teaspoon of sugar. And yes, it’s fructose – like what you get with fruit – but without the fiber, enzymes, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. And like high fructose corn syrup, it has no nutritional value at all.

Dr. Weil is phasing out agave and introducing the use of pure glucose syrup for sweetening in restaurants in which he is affiliated. He finds glucose syrup to be less sweet than agave or maple syrup, but it contains no fructose. Glucose is the same sugar your body creates once it’s broken down starches and carbohydrates. Fructose is the sugar found naturally in fruits. It turns out that fructose presents more health problems when used consistently.

So, in my quest to wean myself from sugar, I’ve made friends with Stevia and incorporated more honey in my sweetening habits – bidding farewell to agave.

About the Author

Here at Jenny Green Jeans, by sharing success stories and easy-to- implement tips, I hope to inspire and empower you to continue to make sustainable choices in your life and watch how far the impact goes. Contact me with any questions or suggestions you may have.

2 Enlightened Replies

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  1. Elizabethwolf@mac.com' Elizabeth says:

    Thanks for this. As I peek around the web now, I see the Agave news all over the place. I would have never known if it weren’t for your post. What’s the deal with stevia anyway? I’m nervous about investing in it.

    • Jennifer says:

      No need to worry about Stevia. It’s considered the safest natural, no-calorie sweetener out there. The powder form is intense. If you can’t make peace with it, try the liquid form. Stevia isn’t great for baking however. I’ve been experimenting with Monk Fruit. Monk Fruit is indigenous to China and Thailand and has been used for it’s medicinal properties for thousands of years. For baking, 50% ratio with sugar is recommended. Hey, but that’s 50% fewer calories. For general sweetening, I find that it has less of an aftertaste than Stevia. Organic Honey is always a good option, but it’s not fructose/calorie free. And I personally find Honey too distinct of a flavor for many uses. I certainly can’t use it in my coffee! Let me know if you discover some other magic, natural sweetener down under:)

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