Agave Nectar or Syrup is the latest health food craze in California and its popularity is spreading faster than syrup on a hot pancake.
It is is being promoted as a healthy alternative to sugar maybe it is too good to be true?
Sugar in all its various forms is bad for us, if we want to eat a healthier diet or lose weight we know we must eat less sugar but most of us enjoy eating sweet things so the idea of a healthy, low GI natural sweet product is very appealing. Here lies the problem, we truly want to believe the labeling and marketing hype and when we want to believe something we jump right in and don’t ask questions.
Having checked the facts I would never again eat Agave Nectar in any shape or form.
Agave nectar is 100% sugar and its calorie content is basically the same as any other sugar product.
Sugar does come in various shapes and sizes and the stuff in Agave Nectar is 70-90% fructose and the rest is glucose. This is a higher percentage of fructose than any food or drink . Fruits contain much lower levels of fructose so it is not accurate to compare Agave Nectar to fruit. The sugar in soft drinks such as regular Coke and Pepsi is 55% fructose and 45% glucose (it is called High Fructose Corn Syrup) so eating Agave Nectar has more in common with drinking a super fructose strong Coke than anything that ever existed in nature.
The medical community is very concerned about increasing fructose consumption as it may cause liver damage as well as obesity. (1, 2)
An important historical side note. Until the mid 80’s most sugar in the US was sucrose (the white stuff), but then the US Government subsidized corn from which high fructose corn syrup is made which lead to increasing fructose consumption. The increase in fructose consumption parallels the increase in obesity. No causal link has been proven but there are many concerns (1, 2). The body does not process fructose in the same way as normal white sugar (sucrose) which is another reason to have caution (thus the concern over liver damage.
The extremely high fructose content puts Agave Nectar in new territory and I have no desire to be a lab rat for a sugar chemistry experiment run by a bunch of tequilla makers. Agave Nectar is made from the same Agave cactus that is used to make tequila.
High fructose products need to be studied and the links to obesity and hunger need to be better understood. In the meantime I will be taking the Mayo Clinic’s advice and applying it to Agave Nectar “Avoid or limit foods that contain high-fructose corn syrup”.
1. Fructose, insulin resistance, and metabolic dyslipidemia Heather Basciano, Lisa Federico, and Khosrow Adeli
Clinical Biochemistry Division, Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology, Hospital for Sick Children, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada http://www.nutritionandmetabolism.com/content/2/1/5
2. Fructose, weight gain, and the insulin resistance syndrome American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 76, No. 5, 911-922, November 200