What is agave nectar?
Agave nectar is a “natural” sweetener. It’s a vegan substitute of honey. You can use it instead of maple syrup, or sugar.
Moreover, agave nectar is produced mainly by the blue agave plant in Mexico. It’s the same plant that produces tequila…
So, is agave nectar good for you? Actually, no…
Agave nectar is highly processed food.
During processing of agave syrup, agave plant is pressed, filtered, and heated.
This syrup has no dietary fiber, and it’s mainly fructose. A type of sugar.
Agave nectar vs agave syrup
What’s the difference between agave nectar and agave syrup?
Actually, there is no difference… It’s the same product.
Agave nectar is for marketing purposes only. Actually, agave nectar is a heavily processed syrup.
Is agave nectar good for you?
Agave nectar has marketed as a keto sweetener, and as a natural sweetener good for people with diabetes.
That’s because agave nectar has a particularly low Glycemic Index.
The Glycemic Index shows how much food affects blood sugar. The lower the blood sugar increase, the better.
According to the University of Sydney, agave nectar has a Glycemic Index of 19. That’s pretty low.
Just for purposes of comparison, the Glycemic Index of:
- sugar, is 60. Sugar contains only sucrose.
- honey, is 58. Sugars in honey are approximately 43% glucose and 50% fructose.
- agave nectar, is 19. Sugars in agave nectar are 18% glucose, and 82% fructose.
How is this possible? Why agave nectar has such a low Glycemic Index?
Due to, the fact that agave nectar is mainly fructose. 82% of sugar is fructose.
Fructose is only metabolized in liver. This process is time-consuming.
Contrary, every cell in the human body metabolizes glucose. Therefore, foods rich in glucose spike blood sugar faster.
Moreover, glucose stimulates insulin release. Fructose doesn’t.
So, is agave nectar good for you, especially if you want to manage blood sugar spikes? Actually, no…
Agave nectar health risks
Actually, agave nectar is bad for you. Mainly due to the high fructose content.
Just for the purpose of comparison, the richest foods in fructose are (2):
- agave syrup has 82% fructose,
- high fructose corn syrup or HFCS has 55% fructose. In some cases, it can contain up to 90% fructose,
- honey is 50% fructose,
- soft drinks contain 55% fructose, and can cause weight gain.
But, why is fructose bad for you?
Fructose puts tremendous stress to the liver.
Liver is the only organ that can metabolize fructose. In contrast, glucose is instant fuel for every cell in the human body.
Therefore, fructose has been linked to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease or NAFLD (2). In this case, there is a rise of triglycerides in the liver.
Moreover, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease has linked to increased risk of (1,2,3):
- high blood pressure,
- insulin resistance,
- cardiovascular events, and
Other factors that contribute to non-alcoholic fatty liver are (2):
- high calorie diet,
- high consumption of saturated fats, and
- sedentary lifestyle.
Furthermore, a diet high in fructose has been linked to increased levels of (3):
- total cholesterol,
- low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol,
Fructose is so dangerous that it can worsen cholesterol and triglyceride levels in just 24 h.
Don’t forget… Agave nectar is the richest food in fructose…
Additionally, a diet high in fructose may contribute to weight gain.
Finally, the many supposed health benefits of agave nectar are due to the traditional agave products. Modern high processed agave syrup has no similarities with traditional agave products.
Other foods rich in fructose
There aren’t many foods rich in fructose. Only after the mass production of sugar, people started consuming large amount of fructose.
Natural sources of fructose are mainly fruits and honey.
Moreover, grapes, apples, apple juice, persimmons, and blueberries are also good sources of fructose. They contain approximately 5-10% fructose.
Nowadays, fructose is everywhere. For instance, high fructose corn syrup is in countless processed foods. It’s a pretty cheap sweetener. Unfortunately, it’s especially high in fructose.
Avoid soft drinks, processed foods, and sweets.
Is fructose in fruits good for you?
On the other hand, fructose in fruits is good for you. Why? Because fruits contain only a small amount of fructose. Furthermore, fruits are high in dietary fiber, inhibiting quick absorption of fructose.
Prefer eating fruits than any other sweetener. Even stevia which is considered a natural sweetener may cause weight gain!
Also, fruits are rich in phytochemicals and antioxidants, such as vitamin C, that inhibit fructose from harming you.
Fruits are good for you.
Remember… not eating fruits, is the number one dietary reason for dying early.
- The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: How bad is fructose?
- PMC: Dietary Sources of Fructose and Its Association with Fatty Liver in Mexican Young Adults.
- State University of New York at Oswego: Chronic Fructose Ingestion as a Major Health Concern: Is a Sedentary Lifestyle Making It Worse? A Review.