Agave nectar, also called agave syrup, comes from the plant called agave that grows mainly in Mexico and South America. This “natural” sweetener is very popular nowadays because not only does it taste sweet and good, and it’s convenient and easy to use, but also because it got great marketing behind it over the years. It now has changed though and most people in the health and nutrition industry know it’s best to stay away from it. Why? Because it’s not natural (unless raw/unprocessed) and not healthy. Here are 3 reasons why.
1. Agave is mostly fructose
Fructose is the main sugar found in fruits and vegetables. This fructose is healthier than the one found in processed foods, as fruits and vegetables are whole foods that also contain vitamins and minerals, fibers and antioxidants, which promote general health. Agave, just as most processed foods, is deprived of nutrients in their natural form and is metabolized differently in the body than whole foods.
Also, if not utilized by the body, fructose is quickly transformed into fats. However, it doesn’t mean you spend the energy you can consume anyways. You may not gain weight, but it still impacts your health, especially if consumed regularly.
Agave is very high in fructose and contains even more fructose than high-fructose corn syrup. Synthesized fructose is not healthy – the one that is found naturally in whole fruits is.
2. It’s highly processed
Agave is not natural or raw. It’s a highly refined and processed. To make agave syrup, the sweet water from the root of the agave plant is extracted and heated at high temperature. It’s then chemically treated to make a concentrated “natural” syrup that is as high as 90% pure fructose. The agave will range from light colored to dark amber, depending on the degree of processing.
3. It can lead to serious health problems
Agave – just as any type of sugar – should always be consumed in moderation, especially if you have a health condition that requires a low sugar or sugar-free diet.
One of the main problems with agave is its high fructose content, which may lead to different health problems such as obesity, diabetes, liver damage, gout, and cancer. Fructose is also known to contribute to the formation of AGEs (advanced glycation end products), which are related to other health problems such as cardiovascular diseases, Alzheimer’s, and arthritis.
As much as possible, avoid processed foods that contain fructose and stick to whole and natural foods.
5 Healthier Alternatives to Agave:
- Raw, organic, or local honey
- Pure maple syrup
- Coconut nectar
- Yacon syrup
- Fruit and root vegetable purees