Thursday, May 17, 2012

Say What?: Agave Nectar

When I first heard about this substitute for honey and sugar additives I was so excited to try it. But it took me forever to buy some. I will note that while I've been trying to cut down on my daily caloric intake it has helped quite a bit to cut out honey. For the most part it does seem like its a great solution, but unfortunately there's a bit of controversy surrounding the pro's of agave nectar.

"[Agave Nectar is] indeed made the same way [as HFCS], using a highly chemical process with genetically modified enzymes. They are also using caustic acids, clarifiers, filtration chemicals and so forth in the conversion of agave starches into highly refined fructose inulin that is even higher in fructose content than high fructose corn syrup." source

A great many people swear and die by their thinking that Agave Nectar is amazing for you. While it does have its benefits specifically being listed as the only sweetener Diabetics can use because it has extremely low glucose levels, it contrastingly has rather high fructose levels which is what makes it so sweet but appropriate for diabetics. So what does this mean for you? Well if you recognize the phrase 'high fructose' than 'high fructose corn syrup' should come to mind. And we all know (hopefully) that HFCS is bad bad bad bad bad for you. As a matter of fact to give you an idea of how much fructose is in Agave Nectar, HFCS is about 50-75% fructose while Agave Nectar can sometimes be approximately 75-90% fructose. 

So you ask why does this matter since diabetics can have it? Well its extremely bad for people who are trying to loose weight or diet which often is anyone who uses it is. You see fructose is digested by your liver and then stored as body fat bypassing your blood system which is why its acceptable for diabetics to use. Who wants to be ingesting something that is said to help you cut out sugars that make you gain weight, when in reality this sweetener will cause the same amount of gain if not worse? A study done on fructose' affect on the body actually proved that substituting fructose for glucose cause the same amount of weight gain, but visceral gain which is the most dangerous. Additionally since the liver is what metabolizes the fructose if, over used could cause damage to your liver in the long run. Last but not least, Agave Nectar is not a natural substance and only occurs after long and numerous chemical manipulations. Essentially it's processed, and with all processed foods they can be potentially bad since you don't have a guarantee they're healthy for you.

In the end if you do supplement sugars with Agave Nectar do it sparingly and with awareness that it is in the end stored fat and can have negative effects on your body just like any other sugar and processed food.

1 comment:

Kelsey Cole said...

I think it depends on how you use it! :) I love using agave because you can use like 3 or 4 time less of it and have the same flavor effect as using honey or normal sugar (for example, I can use just 1 Tablespoon of agave in a recipe that would normally call for a 1/4 cup or more of sugar! So, I end up using FAR less sweetener in general. So for me, that is the main idea!