My sister in law introduced me to agave syrup, she said it is 1.4 to 1.6 times sweeter than sugar. I said great! I purchased a small bottle of the Organic Blue Agave Sweetener. She said it is a good substitute for honey and because it is sweeter than sugar a little goes a long way.It tasted yummy so I use it in everything, in my tea, coffee, toast. In short I am embarassed to tell you that I consumed the whole 11.7 oz bottle in 1 week which translated to 1,404 calories or about 200 calories per day or almost 1/2 lb. weight gain in i week and if I did not stop,it could have totaled to 2 pound weight gain for something that I normally did not need to use. Agave was new to me. Normally I read about the product before I go head on with it. My sister in law is a diabetic and she tells me she read somewhere that it does not raise blood glucose. Great! Nevertheless I was curious so I research agave. This is what I found out.
Agave nectar, syrup or sweetener is manufactured in Mexico. This sweetener can be processed from different types of agave plant. However, the blue agave is the preferred agave for making agave syrup. This plant is spiny with swordlike leaves .The plant resembles a yucca. Blue agave is high in carbohydrates which produces a high percentage of fructose in the final nectar
It will take 7-10 years before an agave plant is ready to produce nectar. To harvest nectar from a mature agave plant,the top of the plant is cut, thus revealing the core or “pina” which weighs about 50-150 pounds. Nectar is collected from the “pina” by siphoning it daily. Similar procedure for making tequila.
The main polysaccaride is called inulin or fructoscan. The hydrolyzed juice is filtered and heated at low temperature to breakdown the carbohydrates into simple sugars then concentrated into a syrup where the color range from light amber to dark amber, like pancake syrup. The syrup contains, iron,calcium ,potassium and magnesium.
The vegans use agave as sweetener because it is plant base, Individuals who follow a raw food diet argue that while manufacturers label some agave product as raw, it is not so, because it still is subjected to heat of over 100 deg F . A Newly patented alternative has been approved by US FDA (Food and Drug Administration) . Instead of subjecting agave to heat to convert polysaccharides into simple sugars, a mold, aspergillus niger is added to the product to hydrolyze the polysaccharide fructose extract into fructcose by fermentation.
Now that we know how agave is processed , lets find out what benefits it has to offers that sugars and honey do not.
Agave nectar or syrup contains primarily fructose . The percentage of fructose and glucose varies from one manufacturer to another. Some manufacturer water down there product by adding honey to the product because it is cheaper than agave. The claim that agave syrup or nectar is natural is untrue. Agave nectar is not a natural sweetener. It has more concentrated fructose than high fructose corn syrup,neither is it raw or natural as the agave manufacturers claim it is.
Natural sugar is called levulose and is found in ripe fresh fruits along with vitamins,minerals and pectin. Agave contain fructose which is formed when complex carbohydrate is hydrolyzed. Unlike glucose which is absorb by all cells in the body, fructose is absorb and digested in the liver, which in turn increase your triglycerides. After the liver digest the fructose,it is stored as fat. Since it does not get converted into blood glucose,like other sugars,it does not raise blood glucose. Fructose inhibit keptin levels, a satiety indicator, which can result in weight gain. Increase trigylcerides and weight gain can put one at risk for metabolic disorders like diabetes, high blood pressure,heart disease. This explains my weight gain from consuming agave I could not figure out why I was hungrier than usual. I also had my blood drawn for my regular doctors visit and my triglycerides and cholesterol which was always normal was elevated.
The verdict: Agave is a bad sweetener. I will stay away from it .