Agave Nectar: Natural Sweetener

March 17, 2008 by  
Filed under DIABETES

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What’s Agave?

Agave is a succulent plant native to Mexico. Native people used the agave for many different applications, from clothing to rope and some native people still use the agave in interesting ways. One use that you may not have imagined is nails! But for diabetics, agave is another natural sweetener that is a healthy alternative.

There are many different varieties of the agave genus, so when I speak of agave in this post, I am referring to the Blue Agave.

Agave is a huge plant standing 6 feet tall and with a spread of 7 to 12 feet. This is the size the Blue Agave normally reaches by the time it is ready for harvesting. It has long, sword like leaves with a very sharp point. So sharp that natives used the ends of the leaf as needles. By biting the end of the leaf, the pulling out fibers, a ready made thread and needle could be (and still is in some places) used. The core of the Blue Agave looks quite a bit like a pineapple. This is where Agave Syrup or nectar comes from.

Mmm, Syrup.

When the farmers are ready to harvest the agave for its’ nectar, all of the leaves are cut from the plant. This leaves behind the pineapple-like core which they cap with a stone. The fruit ripens or develops and then the entire plant dies. But don’t feel bad, from the base of the plant, new ones are started! Much like aloe, agave has ‘babies’.

The core or pina is pressed, then according to the process the manufacturer uses, it is steamed or perhaps roasted. This happens over several days to allow the carbohydrates to break down into fructose. The syrup is 90% fructose and 10% glucose in most cases. An enzyme is placed into the resulting liquid to remove the milky look and helop gain the consistency we are accustomed to.

What Else Is In It?

As long as you buy from a reputable source, nothing. No sulfur, no hydrochloric acid. No added sugar, no colors, no nothing, friend. Just pure, sweet agave. Agave contains minerals, though the amount depends on processing. It contains Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, and Potassium.

Why Is Is Good For Me?

Unlike high fructose corn syrup, fructose in its’ natural state is not a horrible thing for your body. Natural fructose and glucose in agave is absorbed slowly, giving it a glycemic index of 40-45. You do not experience the highs and lows as with refined white sugar or other sugar preparations.

Agave can be used in nearly every application as sugar. It is 25% sweeter than sugar, so reduce your measurements accordingly. (IE-1 cup of sugar would be ¾ cup agave). Some resources state that reducing oven heat by 25 degree will help bring better results to baked goods. Also, reduce liquids in all recipes by 1/3.

Want to try some? For $2.50 shipping and handling in the U.S., you can try Agave. I have no relation to this site, so please let me know if you try this brand before I get a chance!
Volcanic Nectar

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12 Responses to “Agave Nectar: Natural Sweetener”
  1. david says:

    Cool blog with great info

  2. Miriam says:

    Agave it is not good for people who suffer from Irritable bowel syndrome. Be careful if you consume agave. It could cause really serious problems in your small intestine.

  3. Angie says:

    So I’ve been drinking a glass of water with two table spoons of Agave, a pinch of dry chili and one lime squeezed into it before every meal for the last 8 months. The good news is I have lost 45 lbs & 5 sizes! The bad news my cholesterol has doubled! I had heard nothing but great thinks about Agave & I was feeling great. That is until I went in for a check up & I can not get my cholesterol down? I am going to stop drinking it.

  4. max/mare says:

    Have you read Sugar Blues by William Dufty? It’s the difinitive work. Just type in Sugar Blues Book in your search engine and read the testimonials! Sugar is POISON. It was documented by physicians in London in the early 1800’s as a plague and the cause of a terrifying influx of diseases that physicians in that city had Never Seen Before. In Africa under Dr. Schweitzers care and the introduction of largely sugar rich European diets entire villages were wiped out. Never mind what the slave trade and rum production has done for the “betterment” of humanity. People made so much money from it’s sale and manufacture that they would rather kill you than stop making the stuff and stuffing into and onto everything they can get you to buy, because once they have you hooked you are theirs for the rest of your life. They put sugar on Tobacco to get you to inhale more frequently – and it Works. People attribute the sugar in cigarettes to cancer not the Tobacco. And you can’t get away from it by rolling your own because it cures faster with the sugar on it. The sugar industry was so threatened by Stevia that they sucessfully lobbied the FDA for it to be made exclusively a food suplement. Look around you. The health and obesity issues of the United States are not your fault. You’ve been pumped full of sugar from before you could walk. Finally we have been told by the more concientious of our doctors to make sure that sugar does not appear in the first five ingredients in the nutritional charts on the food we buy and that includes high fructose corn syrup. Now there are commercials on television that tell us that high fructose corn syrup is all natural and made from corn and has no more calories than sugar. “It’s fine in moderation” they say. It’s as ADDICTIVE as SUGAR! None of these sweeteners were a problem for humanity coming right out of the ground, but if you cook it and take the syrup and distill it down so it’s many times more potent that the original product you get something that is as heathy for you as heroin and just as difficult to kick! The pharmeceutical companies make lots of money developing medicines for diseases that are fundimentally caused by the continuous ingestion of sugar. I have to point to Diabetes, a disease that was Unheard of a hundred and fifty years ago. Now people are wondering if the spike of autism in our children is caused by mother after generation of mother eating sugar while pregnant. These weaknesses become generational diseases and eventually you have serious health issues. And why are entire hives of bees commiting suicide? Maybe because they have been fed sugar syrup and high fructose corn syrup generation after generation. When bees are tested before the hive bolts they are full of tumors and their immune systems are so shot they have fungus growing in their bodies. Of course the pesticides on the plants they have to polinate genersation after generation have something to do with that as well, I’m sure.
    I’m still struggling with sugar and sugar substitutes. I have a serious sugar addiction and I’ve been fighting it for years. It’s caused me terrible health issues including rampant candida which has compromised my immune system. I have looked for information about agave nectar and I’d love to know where the quick search was because I’ve never seen that agave nectar was an issue. Although, I wouldn’t be surprised because once again it’s something that has been harvested, cooked and distilled down so it’s much stronger than the original plant’s product. Sorry I don’t have any cheery recipes. I’m working on it though.

  5. Natalie says:

    La traduction française est pénible à lire…

  6. Alex says:

    Okay, I’m just trying to understand this. 🙂

    Diabetics like me aren’t supposed to drink fruit juice (it really messes me up), but agave is just that, isn’t it? 90% fructose and 10% glucose, thus the glycemic spike. Eating fruit is different, because to get a 8oz glass of juice you have to squeeze a lot of fruit, but there’s no fiber or anything else in the juice to metabolize, just the fructose.

    A quick search on the web shows plenty of agave side effects: it elevates cholesterol and triglycerides; increases blood pressure; increases Insulin resistance (reducing insulin’s affinity to its receptor), etc. So that’s why I’m a bit cautious, I don’t want to worsen my own condition.

    People are promoting agave like it’s a wonder sweetner for diabetics but I don’t understand how it can be.

  7. I would ask your doctor this…”So fruit is bad for diabetics?”

    Fructose in its’ natural state is fructose in fruit. If you eat nothing but super sweet fruits and nothing else, yes you will get a high spike. Agave is not as bad as high fructose corn syrup because it is not full of extra/added concentrated fructose stripped from many plants and placed into one syrup.

    Some doctors are still on a kick that all diabetics should avoid sugar in all forms. Recent studies show that avoidance just causes cravings and binges, while sugar really isn’t as bad as it has been painted. Just our overuse of it.

  8. Alex Majora says:

    The article states “Unlike high fructose corn syrup, fructose in its’ natural state is not a horrible thing for your body.” My doctor says fructose is fructose, and agave is just as bad a high fructose corn syrup, you will get the high glycemic spike just like with glucose, and diabetics like me should absolutely avoid it.

    So, how is fructose different in its “natural” state?

  9. sandy winz says:

    Hi! I have orderd from this place twice and am very pleased to share. They have great kosher organic and natural food products including agave nectar.
    Here is a link
    p.s. I used a code try if it works for you bldc08

  10. Hi Tina 🙂
    No, you didn’t get sucked into the spam, you’re right up there. I’m pretty careful to read the comments and it’s rare that a ‘real’ one is eaten by the spam guardians.

    We picked up a little mixer that runs on AA Batteries for frothing/mixing drinks. It works pretty well, so do those ‘bullet’ blenders. I love mine!

  11. Tina says:

    I think I got sucked into the spam filter when I posted last time.

    Great post and I am printing out the Strawberry muffin recipe to try.

    Here is an interesting site I found–I ordered a battery operated mixer for protein shakes from it but there are great food items and other diabetic items.

  12. Tina says:

    Hey, Julie. Great article. And the recipe post…I am trying that muffin recipe soon.

    I was looking for a small protein shake container with battery operated blades and stumbled on this site. The shaker is great but they also have quite an array of diabetic foods to order.

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