Meet blue Agave! A sweetener highly recommended by natural health proponents which actually might just be worse for you than High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS).
People have been flocking to agave nectar to seek solace from the harsh processed sugars. But the way agave is processed by manufacturers, chances are that you might be leaving one poison and moving to the next.
What is Blue Agave?
Blue Agave, also known as Agave tequilana, is grown in the volcanic soil of Jalisco, Mexico. When the heart of this plant is fermented and distilled, what you get is the beverage enjoyed all over Mexico- Tequila.
Most of the agave syrups you get at grocery store is nothing but high fructose syrup masked by the marketers who by using beautiful words like exotic, natural, healthy or nectar, paint a very different picture- one that generates a lot of sales for them.
Here is why Agave is actually a Villain
Reason: 1 Agave has more Fructose than any other sweetener, including HFCS
This beautiful amber colored, honey like liquid, looks innocent and almost divine. But sadly, that is far from the truth. Where table sugar, and most other sweeteners including honey, contain ~45 to ~55% fructose, agave nectar contains fructose as high as 97%.
It is fructose that’s the most dangerous part of sugar. The fructose in fruits is perfectly fine as long as it’s not commercially extracted from it. Research shows that the high fructose content in agave can cause insulin resistance which causes insulin levels to remain elevated for a longer period of time. It raises the triglyceride levels, and affects the liver severely. It also increases blood pressure. Overall, it can increase your chances of acquiring diabetes and heart disease.
Reason: 2 The Problem Lies In The Processing
Agave nectar derives its sweetness from its root bulb, which contains Inulin– a type of fructose. Inulin is actually beneficial to the body. Now, despite what marketers tell you, what you find in the bottle does not come directly from the plant. In fact, before touching the bottle, the producers highly process this substance to convert it to a nectar. This process ensues the addition of genetically modified enzymes, acids and chemicals. By the end there isn’t really much inulin left in the nectar. There is however a lot of highly refined fructose- which is what you were trying to avoid in the first place.
Reason:3 Agave is neither natural nor healthy
Agave has about 60 calories per tablespoon, while table sugar only has 40 calories. This is because agave much more sweeter than sugar. The low glycemic level does not make it healthier, especially when you consider what refined agave does to your organs.
Fructose has been linked to overeating which ultimately leads to obesity. All sugars are not created equal, but Fructose is worse. Agave is primarily made of fructose, and only has a little glucose content which will expand your waistline. Fructose is predominately broken down by your liver into fat. It increases visceral fat, elevate uric acid levels and messes up the functioning of appetite control.
If You Must Have Agave…
Stick with small ethical companies who uses raw agave, and has only about 50% fructose. Also, remember that moderation is key here. You should limit your fructose consumption to 25 grams a day.
But the safest way to curb your sweet tooth is with fruits like apples, melons, oranges etc. Try to avoid artificial sweeteners including commercial agave nectar.
If you are consuming high levels of fructose, do it immediately before, during or after your workout, that way your body will burn it for fuel and not covert it to fat.
Nutritionally, agave nectar has small traces of Calcium, Magnesium and Potassium but not enough to outweigh its negatives.
So if you have agave sitting in your kitchen cabinet, you might want to think twice before using it. Before adding a new item to your diet, I recommend doing your own research rather than falling for dubious marketing tactics.
Unless you can get your hands on high quality agave, steer clear of it, and even if you do find some, use it very moderately.
If you are looking to lose weight, have diabetes, kidney problems, cholesterol or other heart disease, stay away from all sweeteners. You will notice a dramatic difference in your health.
In the comment section below, tell us…Are you an agave user? If yes, do you plan to continue using it?