The harmful effects of sugar are among the few things that most health experts agree on. Everyone knows that sugar is unhealthy and most health conscious people try to avoid it.
Not surprisingly, all sorts of other sweeteners have become popular, both natural and artificial. One of those is called Agave nectar, a sweetener that is found in various “health foods.”
It is claimed to be natural, and marketed as a diabetic-friendly sweetener that doesn’t spike blood sugar levels. However, if you ignore the marketing claims and take a look at what Agave nectarreally contains, you will learn that it is actually even worse than plain sugar.
Let me explain why…
What is Agave?
The Agave plant grows natively in the southern U.S. and South America. It is most commonly associated with Mexico. Although most Westerners only recently started hearing of Agave, it has been used in Mexico for hundreds (if not thousands) of years. Back in the day, the Mexicans used it for various purposes and believed it to have medicinal properties.
The Mexicans also used to boil the sap (sugary circulating plant fluid) to produce a sweetener known as miel de agave. But the most common use of the Agave plant is fermenting the sugars in it to produce the alcoholic beverage called tequila. In fact, tequila is the most common commercial use of Agave today and one of Mexico’s best known export products.
Like many plants in their natural state, Agave probably does have some health benefits.
However, as is so often the case, when the product is processed and refined it tends to lose some (or all) of these beneficial health effects. This appears to be the case with the refined Agave sweetener that people are consuming today.
Bottom Line: Agave is a plant that grows in large amounts in Mexico. It has a long history of use as a medicinal plant, sweetener, and can also be fermented to make tequila.
How is Agave Nectar Made?
The sweetener commonly sold as Agave nectar would be more accurately labelled as Agave syrup.
The truth is… it has very little in common with the traditional sweetener made by the Mexicans.
The starting process is the same. They take the plant, then cut and press it to extract the sugary circulating fluid. This fluid is high in sugar, but it also contains healthy compounds like fructans, which are linked to beneficial effects on metabolism and insulin.
However, when processed into a syrup, the manufacturers break the fructans down into fructose by exposing the sugary fluid to heat and/or enzymes.
This process destroys all of the health promoting properties of the Agave plant, but instead produces the concentrated syrup available on store shelves that is falsely claimed to be healthy.
The manufacturing process is similar to how other unhealthy sweeteners are made, such as High Fructose Corn Syrup.
So… the sweetener sold as Agave nectar is NOT truly “nectar” – it is a refined, processed sweetener made from Agave nectar.
Bottom Line: The Agave sweetener sold today is made by treating the sugars with heat and enzymes, which destroys all the beneficial health effects of the Agave plant. The end product is a highly refined, unhealthy syrup.
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