Friday, September 10, 2010

Friday's Food for Thought: Agave Nectar: Not So Sweet

When we first got started on the Maker's Diet, we switched over all our white sugar in favor of Rapadura and raw honey. While shopping a Whole Foods, I saw something in the sweetener section called, "Agave nectar."

I was curious about it, but never bought it, because it's not listed in the Maker's Diet as an approved food. It just doesn't mention it.

In the last couple of years, however, I started hearing about it everywhere. It seems that agave nectar has become all the craze in the health food world. It's advertised as being a great choice for diabetics, and a safe and healthy sweetener for just about everybody.

Unfortunately, it turns out that not only is agave nectar not healthy, it is actually worse for you than high fructose corn syrup- which most health aficionados are
working hard to avoid.

The reason is that it is incredibly processed-, and also insanely high in fructose content. (80% in some brands!) HFCS has a fructose content of 55%)

But don't take my word for it- check out these great articles from the Weston A. Price Foundation, and from Dr. Mercola.

If you want to know which sweeteners I recommend, check out my Guide to Natural Sweeteners.

Have a "sweet" weekend everyone! (Sorry, I couldn't resist!) ;)


Maryea said...

When I first read Mercola's article about agave nectar, I was stunned and devastated. I don't use it over abundantly, but it was a great go-to sweetener when I needed to sweetened something without refined sugar. I have recently dug deeper and found some of his claims to be unsubstantiated. Please check out the following report of one company who used agave nectar's quest to find the truth:

And another article about the controversy:

It's always important to look at both sides of the story and figure out what it the truth. My personal conclusion is that agave nectar is anything that is sweet in moderation.

Maryea said...

Sorry for all the typos; I am multi-tasking right now. :-)

Maryea said...

FYI-honey has the same fructose percentage as HFCS. Sorry for the multiple comments--I forgot to add this to my original.

Catherine said...

Maryea, thanks so much for your comment! You brought up great points! It sounds like both Vanessa at Gnosis chocolate and Dr. Mercola are correct. As she says herself, the plant she visited IMAG, is obviously one of the exceptions that he refers to in his original article.

I like the Weston A. Price's Foundation's stance on fructose- limit the amount, and whenever you eat it, eat it with a fat like cream, milk, coconut oil, cheese, or even eggs to slow down its absorption into your blood stream.

And with all the controversy surrounding agave, and the difficulty of knowing for sure if the manufacturing plant you are purchasing from is similar to the one Vanessa discusses, I'd rather stick with natural sweeteners that have been used for centuries, like Rapadura, or honey, which is mentioned all throughout the Bible.

Oh, and about honey, while the fructose content may be the same as HFCS, the difference is the package that it comes in- HFCS is obviously chemically refined and adulterated, an anti-nutrient to be sure, while truly real and raw honey is a whole food, as God intended, and thereby complete with enzymes, is a natural antibacterial, and has even been proven to have anti-cancer properties. I think the key is limiting the amount of sugar, even natural sugar, and when we do eat them, making sure they are paired with good fats.

ejemama said...

Catherine, what do you use in baking, if the recipe calls for a liquid sweetener? I have only one recipe for a soaked, gluten-free baked good. It is soaked quinoa muffins that are great. It calls for 2/3 C. raw agave. Would you use maple syrup in it's place? My big concern is how pricey that starts making my muffins!! Is there a way to replace with rapadura - like could you mix it with water to liquify? Maybe it's a silly question, but I'm curious about your thoughts.

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