|Agave is like a cross between honey and maple syrup, but thinner and easier to use with a low glycemic index.|
Unfortunately, I no longer use agave nor can support it. Please read my post, Agave Part 2 – The All-Amazing Agave Hoax to learn all about my research and findings on this masterful marketing hoax!
The original article continues…
A few months ago, my good friend Amy told me she was buying agave instead of sugar due to its health benefits. I was intrigued – I had never heard of it before, not knowing it is what Tequila is made from, and put off buying it until a month ago due to its high cost in grocery stores. I finally found it for a bargain at Costco - 2, 23.5 ounce bottles for $7.49 – and snatched it up, still not knowing hardly anything about it. After doing quite a bit of research, I have concluded that not all agave is the same, and it must come in raw form, it must be minimally processed, and come from a trusted manufacturer that performs both of those things. I address this at the end of the article.
First, my disclaimer - I am not a paid affiliate of Volcanic Nectar, Madhava or any other manufacturer of agave. This is not a sponsored post. This article was done out of my pure curiosity and genuine interest! I am also not an expert on the issue, but I have done my best to gather the facts and claims from around the web to present them to you. I understand that you will make your own decision based on what you research as well, and I respect that.
I’ve been using it in my morning coffee and tea, smoothies and to sweeten homemade oatmeal and have been very happy with the taste. It adds sweetness without the strange aftertaste of artificial sweeteners, and without the over sweet taste of raw cane sugar and granulated sugar. I used to use honey as a natural sweetener, but had to use quite a lot in my coffee to satisfy my taste buds. I use about 1/2 tablespoon Agave in my coffee.
So, what makes Agave special?
|I’ve been using agave every day now for a few weeks and have hardly made a dent in this 23.5 oz bottle!|
Some Neat History & Facts
- It comes from the nectar of the plant, aguamiel, which means “honey water” in Spanish (source) and looks very similar to an aloe vera plant.
- It comes from Mexico and the southern United States where the Aztecs and native Hohokam people of Arizona treasured it as a gift from the gods, using the nectar to flavor drinks and food.
- It looks very similar to maple syrup, but it is not as thick and is similar to honey, with a lower glycemic index.
- There are over 100 species of Agave, but Blue Agave is the preferred species due to the high percentage of fructose in the nectar.
- The best news – unlike artificial sweeteners, agave can be used as a sugar replacement in baking! (see substitution info below) Even better, you need 25% less of it (source).
Wonderful Health Benefits
- It has a low glycemic index meaning that it is absorbed and digested more slowly than sugar, producing gradual rises in blood sugar and insulin levels instead of spikes (source).
- According to the glycemic index (GI), 10 grams of sugar has a GI of 58 and 10 grams of Agave has a GI of 11 – huge difference!
- Recent studies at Harvard University show that risks of coronary heart disease and type 2 diabetes are strongly related to the glycemic index (source), so reducing foods with a high GI contributes to coronary health.
- The Aztecs used it, in combination with salt, as a dressing for wounds.
- In modern times, Agave has proven to be effective in treating staph on the skin due to its microbal properties! It also is effective in treating intestinal bacteria!
- A tea can also be made from the leaves to treat constipation and gas and from the roots to treat arthritis (source).
- 2/3 cup Agave for 1 cup granulated sugar and reduce all other liquids by 1/4 to 1/3 cup
- Reduce oven temperature by 25 degrees and increase cooking time slightly
The Agave Debate – Chose Your Brand Wisely
Thanks to one of my Facebook fans, Camille, I have been inspired to do more research on the debate of whether or not agave, as it is manufactured today, is still healthy because of the chemical processing done to extract the nectar of the leaf. Just like many other food products we purchase, it is important to buy from the right manufacturer, and all-natural and even certified organic can mean nothing if agave is highly processed. According to this article, the brand we can trust is Madhava.
Here is what they write about processing the agave:
“Madhava Organic Agave Nectar is an all-natural, organic, Non-GMO Project Verified sweetener made from the natural juice (aguamiel) of the agave plant.
Our agave is organically grown and sustainably farmed in the Sierra Madres region of Mexico. The heart of the plant is pressed to extract the agave juice. The juice is then filtered to remove any plant debris. Once filtered, the juice is heated to approximately 140 degrees to achieve the sweet nectar. The nectar is then filtered again to produce the varying flavor profiles.
No other ingredients are added during processing.”
From another article I read, the type of processing that turns the nectar into a refined fructose is with chemicals and cooking (which is hotter than 140 degrees), and Madhava claims to do neither of those things.
Here is another very good article that also says agave is just fine if it comes from the right manufacturer, and the author recommends Volcanic Nectar’s Blue Agave. On their website, they claim to have the lowest amount of natural fructose, lower than even honey. They have also done research (by an independent company) that proved their claims.
Here are other articles that are against agave, but none of them mention raw agave, just processed agave. So, I’m not sure what to make of all of it!
Web MD – The Truth About Agave
Wall Street Journal – Agave Syrup May Not Be So Simple