For those of you still using agave as a sugar substitute, I have some bad news. But before I break the news to you, I have a confession: I still use agave. It’s in my ketchup and probably a few other places in my kitchen. I fell for the hype, and I know I’m not alone.
No more. It’s time to ditch it. Once the ketchup’s gone agave is no longer welcome in my kitchen. Here’s why.
What is Agave?
Agave nectar (aka agave syrup) comes from the Blue Agaves that grow in the volcanic soils of Southern Mexico. The plants are large, prickly and look like a cactus. The same plant is used to make tequila.
Why We Should Avoid Agave
Most agave nectar or syrup found in the US is actually a highly processed and refined sweetener made from the root of the agave plant. Actually, it turns out that agave is processed in a very similar way to high fructose corn syrup, and has a higher fructose content than any other common sweetener, even more than high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).
Many who once stood behind agave as a sugar substitute are now saying something very different.
Dr. Andrew Weil says:
I’ve stopped using agave myself and no longer recommend it as a healthy sweetener. The reason agave ranks relatively low on the glycemic index is because it has a high content of fructose. Fructose does not readily raise blood sugar (glucose) levels because the body doesn’t metabolize it well. New research suggests that excessive fructose consumption deranges liver function and promotes obesity. The less fructose you consume, the better.
As it turns out, agave has a higher fructose content than any other common sweetener, more even than high fructose corn syrup (HFCS)
Agave is made through a chemically intensive process, including the use of genetically modified enzymes. It’s basically high-fructose corn syrup (or worse!) disguised as a health food.
What Should We Use Instead of Agave?
There are a few natural sweeteners that are on my ‘A’ list.
Honey is at the top of my sweetener list. If honey isn’t for you, check out my top three natural sweeteners HERE.
It’s important to remember that sugar is sugar. It can be disguised in may ways on a food label, but it’s all sugar. Sugar is hiding everywhere: cane sugar, beet sugar, High Fructose Corn Syrup, glucose, agave. There are over 50 names for sugar.
What’s your go-to sweetener?
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Photo credit: Kelly Sue via photopin cc