Agave Nectar Good or Bad?

Recently I posted this little tidbit of information on Facebook about the top 10 Worst Food Ingredients.  Agave Nectar was mentioned on the same list as MSG, Aspartame and High Fructose Corn Syrup.

Does this surprise you?  I was not surprised to see it on the list since, just about 5 weeks earlier I listened to an interview done with David Getoff; a Naturopath and board certified Nutritionist.  His interview revealed the truth about sweeteners such as Agave Nectar.  Since I had not taken notes during that interview, I decided to contact David by email to request some more information about Agave.  He very quickly replied and sent me a 1 hour audio file on sweeteners – which you can listen to in full on his website.

The Shocking Truth:

What we don’t know as consumers is how our food usually is manufactured. Whether that is a plant based or meat based product, we often have blinders on, or some of you may just choose to not know.  Well…not me.  I want to know about my food, and sometimes I think I wish that I didn’t, but I can’t help but be curious about everything I put in front of my family to eat.  When I first discovered Agave Nectar a few years ago, I thought it was too good to be true.  I was a parent who did not allow white sugar in the home, nor did I bake with it.  When I discovered I could bake with it instead of maple syrup I thought I was in Sugar Heaven!!

The truth is, agave nectar is highly processed and the industry has cheated in marketing it to the public.  First, it is not completely raw – meaning that it has been heated in order to get the sweetness out of it.  There may be some companies out there that claim to be raw, but if this important, then do your research and consider the alternatives.  Second, agave nectar has been promoted as a sweetener for diabetics since it is low glycemic.  I have discovered this is impossible to concur, since Agave Nectar is Fructose and not Glucose.  The test used to show an item on the glycemic index measures blood glucose, and the rate at which the food is turned into glucose in your blood.  Well….agave nectar is FRUCTOSE, which means it does NOT convert to glucose at all, therefore cannot accurately be measured by a blood glucose test.  You would need to do a blood Fructose test to measure this.  So, seems like it’s been a marketing scam to trick the public into thinking this is a healthy alternative.  In reality, consumption of Fructose leads to insulin resistance and fatty liver disease, which usually happens without the person knowing it.  Fructose is one of the major causes of Type 2 Diabetes.

As a consumer and parent, you need to be aware of these discrepancies.  Agave Nectar can sometimes even be higher in Fructose than High Fructose Corn Syrup, especially when purchased in large quantities by bakers and large companies that make snacks using Agave Nectar.  The agave they purchase can be higher concentrated so they can use less, save money, but make their sweet treats even sweeter – and more unhealthy for the naive consumer.

So now What?

Mr. David Getoff sites some great resources in the audio file on his website.  He also recommends other sweeteners that are healthier.  I have personally replaced all my agave nectar (after using it up) with Yacon Syrup.  Since Yacon is plant based, but again is new and still requires further research to identify it’s health benefits, I am limiting the amount of sweet treats at home.  I think no matter what we do as parents and consumers, it’s important to remember that even ‘healthy’ alternatives need to be moderated and to not go overboard in thinking, “well it’s healthy for me so I can eat lots of it”.  The other sweeteners recommended by David Getoff are Stevia and LoHan (Luohan) – but I will save those for another post.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on Agave Nectar! Do you use it in your home? Will you continue to use it?

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