Agave Nectar: the sweetener you thought was healthy
Here’s the truth
I used to think Agave nectar was a good substitute in baked goods and in replacement of processed sugar too for many years. In fact, I gave my kids plenty of foods with this ingredient thinking I was doing a good thing.
My husband bought some jam from the store the other day and he proudly displayed his purchase to me. The label says it has a low glycemic index. Thus diabetics think this sugar is safe to use. Read on to find out why you should not be using agave nectar.
I realized I need to clear this myth up for many of you.
Why agave nectar is not as healthy as you were led to believe
- It is made from the tequila plant and is about 1 ½ times sweeter than regular sugar
- Agave nectar is marketed to diabetics because it “supposedly” has a lower glycemic index. I once thought this too. Research does not support this claim however.
- This seemingly healthy sugar is made by using a process that strips the naturally occurring agave juice of all its nutritional value.
- This chemical process that is used to make agave nectar uses caustic acids, clarifiers and filtration chemicals. So in the end they have taken a natural product and turned it into a refined and processed product using chemicals.
- It is very high in fructose (roughly 85% or more of agave is fructose). Fructose gets metabolized by the liver and stored as fat. It contributes to metabolic syndrome and excess belly fat. Diabetes is part of metabolic syndrome, along with excess weight stored around your middle and hypertension.
- Because of the high fructose content it contributes to insulin resistance, elevated triglycerides, and increases your risk of heart disease and liver damage.
- Agave nectar is no better than high fructose corn syrup and I think by now you all know to avoid that processed sugar.
- Too much fructose impairs your normal appetite control system. Listen up here if you are trying to lose weight-it makes you want to eat more!
- It has a low glycemic index because of all the fructose it contains. However processed fructose is damaging. (I am not talking about fructose in your fruits)
- Just like there are “fake” olive oils, there are also fake agaves on the market as well. Some have been found to be mixed with corn syrup.
- They have done a great job at marketing agave nectar leading you to believe it is a healthy option
So what are some healthy options?
- raw honey and pure grade B maple syrup (in minimal amounts)
- dates (use dates as a sweetener in baked goods)
- raisins (good fuel source for athletes/sport events)
- stevia (NOT Truvia and PureVia as these are processed stevia products)
- bananas (great substitute too in baked goods)
- xylitol or erythritol (in small occasional amounts)
- Lo Han
- get your sugar fix from whole foods such as berries, beets and carrots instead of processed foods.
What happens to your body when you remove all the processed sugar from your diet?
- Within 10 days your LDL levels could decrease by up to 10%. It can lower your blood pressure, and reduce triglyceride levels.
- It will decrease your risk for type 2 diabetes.
- It can lead to improved mood, reducing or eliminating depression, anxiety and ADHD.
- Improved sleep: you will have more energy through the day too!
- Weight loss: less empty calories and more nutrient rich calories.
- No “sugar crashes” or “sugar slumps” through the day-instead you will have sustained energy so plenty of energy for work and play!
Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services LLC in Castle Rock, CO believes in food first to restore the body and mind. For more nutrition information, visit her website at www.trufoodsnutrition.com
Pelc, R. Saying Goodbye to Sugar. Hammer Nutrition. Issue 100/July 2016.