Well, add me to the ever growing numbers of decent (or maybe not-so) people who’ve been duped by the masterful marketing hoax that is agave. I can admit when I’m wrong. Due to the overwhelming negative response I received to the post I wrote on Agave, I felt it was necessary that I do more research on this natural sugar that is supposedly better than granulated sugar and high fructose corn syrup because of it’s low glycemic index, and report back to you.
First, I would like to say that when I originally wrote the article, I honestly did not come across articles that were against it. I was looking mainly for descriptions of it, how it’s made, the history, etc. and the other side of the story didn’t come up in my searches. Secondly, I feel a moral obligation to share these facts with you because I have found that research backs up my readers’ claims and I can no longer fully support it myself. My intention here is to report to you the findings of my research, and let the experts do the talking, although I couldn’t help but squeeze in a few of my own thoughts. However, I am not an expert, but my thoughts are based on the experts’ articles.
I did a thorough internet search for articles on agave and even convinced my husband to participate (which he did willingly, bless his heart!) by looking in EBSCO host, which is a journal and research database that college students and professors can access. Among these articles, there were none from credible, medical sources that promoted it over another sugar or sugar substitute, with many of them saying it is exactly the same as granulated sugar and even high fructose corn syrup. The problem I have had with all these articles is that buried deep in my searches, I found several sources who claimed not all agave is manufactured the same way, and some process it very little, making it lower in fructose and retaining the nutrients. So, I have been searching and searching for well-respected sources that discuss this issue and tell us which manufacturers to trust.
I found one article that supports the manufacturer, Volcanic Nectar, but it was not a scientific source. Then, soon after, I came across this article from the Wall Street Journal – Agave Syrup May Not Be So Simple, where they did a study with Volcanic Nectar’s agave and it caused their diabetic patients to pass out and sent them to the hospital! Woah. So, I really have no idea who to trust, which supports what almost everyone writes – there are basically no regulations on agave, so it’s best to just steer clear of it altogether. I’m okay with that conclusion, because it is way more expensive than sugar!
I’m not sure that agave should be demonized, but like I said, I am not an expert. However, any kind of false advertising really makes my skin crawl – especially the heavy marketing that was done to diabetics. I guess one of the lessons learned is just like everything else – do your research before falling head over heads with a diet trend.
Here are some additional articles I found to be really helpful. All are either credible, medical resources or written by registered dietitians.
Mercola.com – Shocking! This ‘Tequila’ Sweetener is Far Worse than High Fructose Corn Syrup
This article finally addresses what was my original argument – that not all agave is created equal and some process it way less than others (and that is good). But, they finally give a conclusion for which I am actually satisfied.
Nutrition Unplugged – Five Food That Have Jumped the Shark
This registered dietitian says Agave is really not different than sugar or high fructose corn syrup, and contains even more fructose than HCS. Just like sugar, use in moderation.
Nutrition Unplugged – The Top Overrated Food Trends of 2009
Bottom line – agave is still a sugar and sugar is sugar. Nothing more healthy or special about it. Eat in moderation.
Web MD – The Truth About Agave
This article says, and I quote “the American Diabetes Association lists agave along with other sweeteners (table sugar, honey, brown sugar, molasses, fructose, maple sugar, and confectioner’s sugar) that should be limited in diabetic diets.”
Eat Naked Now – Agave Nectar: Hope or Hoax?
Agave Nectar is just a big marketing hoax and is actually worse for you than sugar.