Agave Nectar: Natural or Not?

You may have heard about Agave Nectar, or seen it in your local health food store. You may have even used it before. I have heard all the buzz about agave nectar being this great healthy sweetener, but had not tried it. I wanted to do some research before diving into the world of agave. So I set out to do so…

Good, Bad, or Ugly?

Well let me tell you, what I’ve found has not been good. I now put Agave Nectar on the same level as High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS). Ouch! It’s pretty bad stuff. Let me share with you…

Agave is a processed sweetener. It may say raw/organic on the label, but in no way does that equal “good for you”. The agave sap is pressed/squeezed from the plant, is then boiled down, and hydrolyzed (enzymes are added to separate the starch from the fructose). This is the very same process that is used to make high-fructose corn syrup. And Agave is typically higher in fructose than HFCS…much higher. So I will be staying far away from agave nectar and going for truly natural sweeteners. (See this article by Dr. Mercola on just how bad Fructose is for you.)

But wait…..isn’t Fructose found in fruits?

Yes, that is true. But the fructose found in your apple, or other fruit is natural. It is not man altered. And not in the high concentrated amounts found in agave or high fructose corn syrup. See the chart below for the percentage of fructose found in some common fruits, compared to equal portions of sucrose, honey, and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).

Total Fructose Per 100g of Common Fruits

Fruit Total Fructose Total Sugars % Fructose
Mango 7.9 14.8 53.4%
Strawberry 3.0 5.8 51.8%
Grape 7.6 18.1 42%
Apple 9.3 13.3 70%
Sucrose 48.5 97.0 50%
Honey 43.2 81.9 52.7%
HFCS 42.4 77.0 55.1%
Agave Nectar —- —- 56% to 96%
Depending on Brand

What are Some Good Choices for Sweeteners?

Think of anything that occurs naturally, “in nature”. Such as raw honey, dates, bananas, organic maple syrup (yes maple syrup is boiled down, but it is not chemically processed or changed – choose organic to avoid formaldehyde), unrefined sugars like rapadura, sucanat, or muscovado, and stevia the sweetleaf. Keep in mind that all sweeteners should be consumed in moderation. When converting old recipes, try cutting back on the sugar; as they are usually way to sweet. I have had much success with this.

Please see the video below from Renegade Health for more on Agave Nectar.

UPDATE: Agave Clinical Trials Halted Due to Severe Side Effects in Diabetics 10/29/2009

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Disclaimer: The information in this post is meant for educational purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice. None of the opinions are meant to diagnose or treat any disease or illness. You should always consult your healthcare provider.

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