The agave craze has caught on in the world of natural cooking and healthy eating. Agave is a honey colored liquid that tastes sweeter than sugar, is gluten free, and is low on the glycemic index. Due to it’s low glycemic index rating it’s often marketed as “diabetic friendly”.
What you might not know about this sweetener, is agave nectar is basically high fructose corn syrup masquerading as health food. The high levels of synthesized fructose put people at risk for obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, and insulin resistance. A recent study found that obese individuals who drink fructose sweetened drinks with meals have triglyceride (a form of cholesterol) levels 20 times higher than equally obese individuals who drank glucose-sweetened drinks.
You might be surprised to hear that there really is no such thing as agave nectar. Agave was developed in the 1990’s in mexico from the starchy root of the yucca plant. In order to produce nectar, the leaves are cut off the plant and juice is expressed, filtered, heated, and converted to a liquid nectar using caustic acids, clarifiers, and other chemicals. The end result is a syrup that is 70-92% pure fructose- an even higher amount than what’s found in high fructose corn syrup (which contains 55% fructose).
Coming up next week: The Burden of Fructose