Is Agave Nectar bad for you?
I remember first discovering a wonderful non-sugar “syrup” called agave.
I read for months about agave and how it has been said to have low glycemic index(so low in glucose). does not raise blood sugar as much as other types of sugar or provoke as much of an insulin response.
I remember thinking how amazing is it that something so delicious doesn’t raise blood sugar as much as other “sugars”, How great for diabetics!!!”
But I also remember being very skeptical. Now I know I was right to question this so-called “miracle sweetener”.
As more and more testing is being done on Agave nectar, they are discovering it‘s not a good as we all once thought.
I used to assume also that Agave was pure and with minimal processing needed to extract it.
Oh boy was I wrong.
I spend lots of time researching where our food comes from. I am known for this in our family and circle of friends.
The way our food is processed is extremely important to me. I always look for food that is the closest to it’s natural state as possible. So even Corn Flakes, or dried fruit didn’t always appeal to me.
What I was learning about agave syrup was very disappointing to me.
Agave nectar is often processed with many chemicals. Why is this not great for our bodies, other than the obvious?
Because the way our bodies process agave nectar is more like the way our body would process refined sugar. Very different from how our bodies process natural fruit sugar.
(For more information on sugar substitutes, see here: 7 Better substitutes for sugars….at least they won’t KILL us )
There is a silver lining…even though it’s very thin
Raw, unprocessed agave sap is still used by some companies to make their nectars, but only those who have the organic stamp of approval.
Agave nectar can be used in moderation by some people. But typically it’s not a healthy alternative to regular, refined sugar
** I will point out that if you continue to use Agave, make sure to use the ones with USDA Organic labels. This will ensure the Agave is processed without using chemicals. It will be more pure. Organic nectars wouldn’t have been sprayed with pesticides and don’t contain any High Fructose Corn syrup.
I am not going to get into the process of how Agave is extracted and made. It’s beyond the scope of this particular article.
But I will further explain why it’s not as healthy as many Raw foodists or health aficionados assume.
Here are some answers
Nowhere in the natural world does the ratio of fructose to glucose occur as it does in Agave syrup. It’s over 90% fructose.
Just to put it into perspective, the amount of fructose in high-fructose corn syrup is about 55%. Table sugar is about 50%. (By the way, the last two sweeteners I mentioned are still more unhealthy, simply because they are SUPER processed, refined, bleached and not natural in the least.)
Wait a minute, isn’t fructose the “good” stuff, like in fruit? Actually, fruit (even the fruit highest in sugar) has a relatively low fructose concentration. Especially compared to Agave, HFCS, even honey.
Many people, however, cannot eat large amounts of fruit. Eating huge quantities of fruit can also have negative effects. The key is to eat a balanced diet. If you eat meat, go organic/grass fed. If you’re vegetarian or vegan, make sure to eat lots of food with calcium (see here: How to get loads of Calcium without the dairy ) and protein (see here: 9 Plant-Based sources of protein you NEED to try!)
Long time ago, sugar was consumed much, much less than today. Even fruit that was consumed daily contained much less sugar/fructose than the fruit available today which has been hybridized.
Unless you lived in a tropical region, there were very few fruit varieties.
We are now accustomed to refined sugars (and foods that are derived from cane sugar) that the developing world has been exploited for. All to satisfied our taste buds, cravings and well, quite literally, our addiction.
We have hybridized our fruit (since over 150 years ago) to make sure they are stronger, sweeter, bigger and more abundant.
Today, it’s getting worse. We grow and ship fruit on an such a large, international scale just to provide it year round all over the world.
We have been using chemicals and modern industrial processes to create and manufacture sweeteners that are not found in nature at all.
This is the main reason North Americans have seen a huge increase in disease. Our sugar intake is just about 160 lbs a year (that’s per person). This is disgusting, truly.
**** Side note: We have heard that the Glycemic Research Institute has warned manufacturers (who produce agave and use it in products) that they can be held legally responsible for any negative health incidents related to eating agave. They have put a stop to all future clinical trials of agave, “de-listed” it on their site. and have placed a ban for it’s use in many different foods and beverages. All this came about because of the results of 5 years of human in-vivo clinical trials. **** WOW!
For those of you ‘naysayers’, skeptics and doubters, I beg you to look at the results of all this:– more tooth decay than ever before
– higher diabetes rates (see more on diabetes here: Diabetes: A Disease? Or Innate Intellegence working at it’s best?)
– higher obesity rates
– much more heart disease than ever
– other degenerative diseases
This would certainly suggest that what we put in our bodies (namely all toxic chemicals, including sugar and other processed foods) is extremely harmful to our health and prevents survival and quality of life.
Let me end with this.
Why don’t we want so much fructose in our system (especially Agave nectar, HFCS and refined sugar)?
Here are a few of many reasons:
— Fructose must first go to our liver before it can be converted to glycogen—a source of energy. When we don’t burn this energy right away, this fructose gets converted to fats in our blood. These are associate with many complications, including heart disease.
— The very types of problems and damages seen in diabetics can be a direct result of accelerated aging due to this type of Fructose. In other words, it can make you age faster!!!!
— Because blood triglycerides made from fructose can be stored as fat, the size of your fat cells increase. In other words, fructose can contribute to weight gain and obesity. Or more simply put, make us fat.
— The development of metabolic syndrome and diabetes can still happen (in a “back door” fashion). How? Insulin levels are boosted when your body creates excess triglycerides from eating fructose (like sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and yes, even Agave). This increases insulin resistance.
— Hearth disease, Gout and other problems have been said to be associated with an increase in Uric acid. This can result from an over-consumption of fructose.
— Bone and tooth demineralization can occur from mineral loss, especially excretion of iron, magnesium, calcium and zinc. This can be the result of high fructose consumption.
— Fructose can prevent collagen and elastin from being able to properly form by interfering with copper metabolism. This Collagen and elastin are components of the connective tissue which essentially holds the body together.
— Anemia, high cholesterol, porous bones, infertility, heart attacks, and an inability to control blood sugar levels can also come from a deficiency in copper.
As you can see, high Fructose can massively damage many organs of your body.
How ironic is it that diabetics have been advised to use fructose for sweetening because it doesn’t “directly” cause a glucose or insulin spike? Craziness.
I used to LOVE Agave.
Now, with a sad heart, I must spread the word about why we’ve parted ways with this sweet, yet harmful sugar substitute
Naturally Down To Earth mom xo
- Fields, M, Proceedings of the Society of Experimental Biology and Medicine, 1984, 175:530-537.
- American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, November 2002 Vol. 76, No. 5, 911-922.
- Hallfrisch, Judith, Metabolic Effects of Dietary Fructose,FASEB Journal 4 (June 1990): 2652-2660.
- H. Hallfrisch, et al., The Effects of Fructose on Blood Lipid Levels, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 37: 5, 1983, 740-748.
- J. MacDonald, Anne Keyser, and Deborah Pacy, Some Effects, in Man, of Varying the Load of Glucose, Sucrose, Fructose, or Sorbitol on Various Metabolites in Blood,American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 31 (August 1978)): 1305-1311.
- Klevay, Leslie, Acting Director of the U.S. Agriculture Department’s Human Nutrition Research Center, Grand Forks, N.D.
- Fructose Metabolism More Complicated Than Was Thought, 2008
- A. E. Bergstra, A. G. Lemmens, and A. C. Beynens, Dietary Fructose vs. Glucose Stimulates Nephrocalcinogenesis in Female Rats, Journal of Nutrition123, no. 7 (July 1993): 1320-1327.
- Roger B. McDonald, Influence of Dietary Sucrose on Biological Aging, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 62 (suppl), (1995): 284s-293s.
- Fructose Linked to Fatty Liver Disease, 2010
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