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Agave Nectar & "Natural" Sugars

For some reason, agave nectar still seems to have a health halo around it. My healthiest clients and friends that strive to eat whole and healthy foods often use agave instead of sugar. Yes, it sounds fancy and perhaps you have heard it has a lower glycemic index than sugar. That’s true. Even though it has the same amount of calories as sugar, it is 1.5 x sweeter than sugar, so you shouldn’t need to use as much. Which is great. But I still do not like agave. I bought some before doing any research a while back, and ended up giving it away.

Why? Yes, it is processed and it does not contain vitamins, minerals or antioxidants. And it contains more fructose that high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). Sources vary, but agave can be up to 90% fructose, where as HFCS is 55%. What’s wrong with fructose? Fructose can cause decreased glucose tolerance, high triglycerides and metabolic syndrome (which can lead to heart disease, stroke and diabetes). Considering that, if you eat a little bit of agave here or there it likely won’t harm you! But if you substitute all sugar for agave, I do not think this is a healthy change. At least to your pocketbook ☺

In fact, a lot of “natural”sugars have a health halo. Read a box of organic cookies that claim to be healthy, and you may see: enriched flour (white flour), brown rice syrup (sugar), honey (sugar) etc etc. No better for you than: enriched flour, sugar, sugar. This video compares the nutritional value of sweeteners like brown rice syrup (at the very bottom of the pile) with honey, brown sugar (white sugar with molasses), white sugar, maple syrup and agave. The only two sweeteners with nutritional value are date sugar (ground up dates ) and molasses (this is nigh in minerals like iron). I am going to try date sugar in baking. What about you?

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