Hi, I was wondering if any of you have heard this about agave nectar. Many vegan recipes call for it and now I'm nervous to use it. Here's what a doctor has to say via the Huffington Post:
"Agave syrup (nectar) is basically high-fructose corn syrup masquerading as a health food.
Extracts from the agave plant have been shown to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.Unfortunately there's zero evidence that any of those compounds are present in the commercially made syrup.
Agave nectar has a low-glycemic index for one reason only: it's largely made of fructose, which although it has a low-glycemic index, is probably the single most damaging form of sugar when used as a sweetener. With the exception of pure liquid fructose, agave nectar has the highest fructose content of any commercial sweetener. Agave nectar is a whopping 90 percent fructose, almost -- but not quite -- twice as high as HFCS.
Research shows that it's the fructose part of sweeteners that's the most dangerous. Fructose causes insulin resistance and significantly raises triglycerides (a risk factor for heart disease). It also increases fat around the middle which in turn puts you at greater risk for diabetes, heart disease and Metabolic Syndrome (AKA pre-diabetes) .
In the agave plant, most of the sweetness comes from a particular kind of fructose called inulin, which actually has some health benefits but there's not much inulin left in the actual syrup. In the manufacturing process, enzymes are added to the inulin to break it down into digestible sugar (fructose), resulting in a syrup that has a fructose content that is, at best, 57 percent and -- much more commonly -- as high as 90 percent.
"Agave syrup is almost all fructose, highly processed sugar with great marketing," said Dr. Ingrid Kohlstadt, a fellow of the American College of Nutrition and an associate faculty member at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health.
Good questions and research. It is often that we take the word of another when it comes to our nutrition and don't actually look any further. It was my understanding that the agave nectar is made from the agave plant and, yes, made to be a very sweet, but a 'natural' sweetener. As sugar and HFCS are made in a 'lab', the agave nectar is composed from that of a 'natural' source. So, although it is not "good" for us, it is a better substitute then sugar. I'm anxious to see what others say... I'll check back - I'm off to do some research on it!
I read that the problem with HFCS is not the fructose but that it has been GENETICALLY MODIFIED to have high fructose and that even regular corn syrup while not preferable isn't near as bad. The problem wasn't the fructose but the genetic tinkering.
Nicole, I have read a fair bit of the same and so it makes me very uncomfortable when I open up my Babycakes cookbook and nearly everything calls for agave. Or that many vegan alternatives (e.g. coconut "ice cream") contain it. Once upon a time it was a natural food, like sugar cane, but processing often strips useful parts and leaves less useful parts. As for HFCS, the majority of corn is genetically modified, which has its own issues, but also in the processing a portion of the glucose that occurs naturally is converted (by way of enzymes) to fructose to "bump up the sweet", so to speak.
But the high portion of fructose either way is troubling. Only the liver can metabolize it which can strain it at best or, at worst, lead to damaged and scarred tissue, depending on its percentage in the diet. And it can do some other unfortunate things too.
I will continue to avoid agave. But that is me and my piece.
Teff, KL; Elliott SS, TschÃ¶p M, Kieffer TJ, Rader D, Heiman M, Townsend RR, Keim NL, D'Alessio D, Havel PJ (June 2004). "Dietary fructose reduces circulating insulin and leptin, attenuates postprandial suppression of ghrelin, and increases triglycerides in women". J Clin Endocrinol Metab.89 (6): 2963-72. doi:10.1210/jc.2003-031855
Ouyang X, Cirillo P, Sautin Y, et al. (June 2008). "Fructose consumption as a risk factor for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease". J. Hepatol.48 (6): 993-9. doi:10.1016/j.jhep.2008.02.011.
No sugar is good for us and should be avoided most of the time. I use agave because it is low in the glycemic index, but I use hardly any. I'm not worried. I eat way less sugar than most people. Also, my triglycerides are awesome! Just got them checked!
Join the Discussion!
Login or create an account on The Kind Life today and you'll be able to leave comments, share photos and videos with friends, and participate in community events!