The Truth about Agave

Agave. It’s one of the best sweeteners on the planet! It’s one of the worst sweeteners on the planet! I’ve heard both.

What’s typically known and understood about agave is its low glycemic level–making it a natural choice for those with diabetes. Also, with agave being twice as sweet as honey you’re able to use less sweetener while preventing those sugar crashes.

The perennial succulent plant agave syrup is made from what is commonly known as Century Plant, and while it’s chiefly native to Mexico, it also grows well in the southern and western U.S. To harvest the agave nectar the root is collected from mature plants. Enzymes are used to break the fructans from the agave plant down into fructose and dextrose. These enzymes could be organic, or not. This substance is then heated (usually under 118°F) to let some of the water evaporate out of the plant juice (called Aguamiel) leaving a syrup consistency.

Authors from a few of the most read food blogs have written posts in the last couple years explaining how unhealthy agave syrup is. These posts though have little evidence to back up their claims, so in my search I dug deeper. I came across the claim from Dr. Mercola that agave has more fructose than high fructose corn syrup . . . that sure caught my attention. I’ve used agave, but I will give it up and quickly find a new sweetener if it’s actually worse on my body than HFCS!

I have wondered if the nutrition from one brand of agave syrup to another varies (the answer is “yes!”), so I decided to find more about the brand I use, which is Xagave, from BetterBody Foods & Nutrtion.  Xagave is a mixture of blue agave and white agave. Both are mixed together to create a product with the best qualities from each type. I found an informative, helpful letter President and CEO of BetterBody Foods & Nutrtion, Stephen Richards, wrote in response to Dr. Mercola’s bad rap on the products.

Here are the main points of the letter:

  • Xagave brand agave is made from plants grown organically
  • Xagave is processed with GMO-free organically certified enzymes
  • While being processed, Xagave is heated at a low temperature (maintaining the “raw” status)
  • Xagave is comprised of 47% fructose, 17% glucose, and 12% inulin (the rest being water with vitamins and minerals). HFCS has 55%-90% fructose in it.

All Brands of Agave are NOT Created Equal is another good post by Stephen Richards.

So with a low glycemic index, and a fructose level similar to honey, organic and raw agave syrup is a healthy substitute for blood-sugar-spiking table sugar and honey.

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