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Agave Nectar Isn’t a Sugar Angel

Posted February 23, 2010 12:00 AM by Jaxy

Agave nectar is used by many vegans as an alternative sweetener to honey because it does not involve any animals in the processing. It is seen as a healthy substitute to sugar, but I am here to tell you that there is no halo above agave nectar.

Agave Nectar is Not All-Natural

The source of agave nectar comes from Mexico in the form of an agave plant. Unlike maple syrup where you can just tap into the tree and savor the sweetness, agave nectar has to be processed. Because the fructose that agave nectar is composed of has been refined, it is not considered a natural sugar. Agave nectar contains about 4 calories per gram, which is about the same as sugar; however, it is 1.5 times sweeter than sugar, so you do end up consuming fewer calories when using agave nectar as a sweetener.

The Glycemic Index

One argument for why agave nectar is healthier than sugar is that it is slightly lower on the glycemic index. Agave nectar is mainly composed of fructose, with some glucose. Since the glycemic index measures glucose and not fructose, it makes sense that agave nectar would be lower as it has less glucose than sugar. Just for perspective, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) has 55% of the fructose that agave nectar has.

What's Wrong with Fructose?

There is a major difference between fructose and other sugars. Many sugars are converted to blood sugar, which can raise your blood sugar levels. Fructose is digested in the liver where it is turned into triglycerides or stored as body fat, bypassing the effect on blood sugar levels; because it does not alter blood sugar levels, it is considered safe for diabetics. However, fructose isn't good for diabetics or weight watchers as it inhibits leptin – the hormone that tells your body that you are full – which can result in eating more.

Have you used agave nectar as a sweetener? What do you use to sweeten your food?

Resources:

Picture

http://www.fooducate.com/blog/2010/01/17/eight-facts-about-agave-nectar/

http://www.foodrenegade.com/agave-nectar-good-or-bad/Picture

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Guru
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#1

Re: Agave Nectar Isn’t a Sugar Angel

02/23/2010 8:47 AM

Is agave nectar made from the same plant that is used to make tequila, Jaxy? If so, might tequila drinkers expect a price increase akin to how ethanol caused a jump in corn prices?

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#2
In reply to #1

Re: Agave Nectar Isn’t a Sugar Angel

02/23/2010 11:31 AM

It is true that blue agave is a source for both tequila and agave nectar. Although, agave nectar can also be composed from other types of agave plants.

Why drink tequila when you can drink water or milk? I must say that I never watch tequila prices. I will leave that up to you to alert the CR4 community if tequila prices jump.

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#3
In reply to #2

Re: Agave Nectar Isn’t a Sugar Angel

02/23/2010 1:47 PM

Why drink tequila when you can drink water or milk?

Because you can't make margaritas with water or milk

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#7
In reply to #2

Re: Agave Nectar Isn’t a Sugar Angel

02/24/2010 9:06 AM

I haven't drunk milk since I was a babe. Water is poison unless treated with bourbon...

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#9
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Re: Agave Nectar Isn’t a Sugar Angel

02/25/2010 9:29 AM

I don't drink water because fish f... in it!

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#4

Re: Agave Nectar Isn’t a Sugar Angel

02/23/2010 11:04 PM

Thanks Jaxy for the interesting article. I tried Aguave Nectar to sweeten my coffee. I don't really use sweeteners except for that. After the second bottle I decided it wasn't all that great. For as much as I use on a daily basis the issue of a few more or less calories is of no concern. However, it is considerably more expensive than sugar. I'm not sure but I thought it might have been causing some funny feeling after a while. I am very sensitive to the affects of different foods, but it wasn't something at all definitive.

For as little as I use and since I'm quite athletic I'll stick with good ol' sugar or occasionally honey if it's there.

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#5

Re: Agave Nectar Isn’t a Sugar Angel

02/24/2010 12:03 AM

Jaxy, You wrote: '...Unlike maple syrup, where you can just tap into the tree and savor the sweetness, agave nectar has to be processed...'. It sounds like you are saying that maple syrup is collected straight from spouts out of trees without any processing required. Sap flows in trees not syrup, Maple trees are no exception. One gallon of Maple Syrup, to my recollection, requires somewhere betweem 30 and 50 gallons of maple sap. One would need the highly refined sense of sap taste of the yellow bellied sap sucker to 'savor the sweetness' of maple sap. J/K. I'm sure it was savory for you. Also, your explanation of the effects/dangers/strengths of various sugars left me somewhat perplexed. HFCS has 55% of the fructose that agave necar has...on what basis? per weight? per calory? thank you, Respectfully Curious

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#8
In reply to #5

Re: Agave Nectar Isn’t a Sugar Angel

02/24/2010 2:59 PM

What was meant by that statement, was not that maple sugar isn't processed or boiled down, but that the process behind agave nectar is more complex. There is a sort of agave syrup/nectar that is made that is boiled down similar to maple syrup, which is the way that most people imagine agave nectar is made. This is not the case, there is a lot more processing than that to the agave nectar you buy in stores.

I got the information on the comparison of HFCS and agave nectar from this source, which does not specify on the basis to which they are comparing fructose. I could guess that by composition, they would mean per weight.

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Anonymous Poster
#6

Re: Agave Nectar Isn’t a Sugar Angel

02/24/2010 5:45 AM

Jaxy,

It is strange to read that 'fructose is digested in the liver'. 'Metabolized' would have been a more appropriate word choice.Just semantic really. ______________________________________________________________________

What is more imporant and probably of greater interest to anyone who has diabetes or whose loved one has diabetes is a more accurate description of the effect of fructose on blood sugar levels. ________________________________________________________________________

Fructose is converted into glucose in the liver. This is the favored method of metabolizing fructose and occurs as long as blood glucose or liver glycogen reserves need replenishing. Only with blood glucose levels sufficiently high and liver glycogen levels sufficiently high (and unused to replenish blood glucose levels), is fructose converted to fat or triglycerides. ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Hence, when it matters most fructose is converted to glucose in the liver, effecting blood sugar levels.

In you defense, I can imagine an argument being made that fructose does not affect blood sugar levels, and that would be correct as long as the most important times are excluded from consideration.

The disctinction seems important enough to share. I hope you take it in the light it is intended.

_________________________________________________ Concordia Cum Veritate

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#10

Re: Agave Nectar Isn’t a Sugar Angel

02/26/2010 7:48 PM

I'm a sugar sweetener myself, honey when suitable is a treat.

I've never tried the agave nectar or syrup. If it is largely fructose then I imagine it is similar to corn syrup or sugar therefore best for making beer!!

The alternative sweeteners don't appeal to me, I'm leery of it, not so much agave or other genuine sweets as the calorie-free substitutes. If my body says I want sugar, it seems to me I should supply what is asked for, not a fake.

I guess I haven't tried agave sweetener because it's pricey and unless there's a recipe for something special that would justify it, I'd have to stick with the cane.

Nice blog all the same, Jaxy, for the biochemical perspective for diabetics. My dad has some diabetes issues, and I would love to see some recommended recipes that are enjoyable and fit for him to eat. His birthday is coming up soon.. any recipes anybody?

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