We have seen it way too many times--a product comes out with a ton of fanfare and mass media marketing behind it and is labeled the next health craze of our time. It happened with soy, organic foods, energy drinks and a host of other items. While not hyped as much as the others mentioned, agave syrup can now safely be put in this category.
Let's first discuss what Agave really is. Blue agave comes from exotic plants in Mexico that gets its powerful nutrients from the tropical sunlight.
If you ferment the nectar, you now are blessed with a drink that has caused millions of people to do things that they normally wouldn't ever thought of and thus embarrass themselves in the process when drank in large quantities-Tequila!
But really, agave has recently been touted as the healthy alternative to refined sugar, when in fact it has been overly processed and stripped of most of its valuable nutrients.
This is basically all about fructose levels and blue agave has higher levels of fructose than any other sweetener on the market today and that includes even high fructose corn syrup-over 50% more!!
Keep in mind that fructose is the sugar that we find in our fruits and when consumed at moderate levels, are beneficial to your health because this natural sugar comes with enzymes, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. It becomes a big problem when the fructose starts to be synthesized in the local lab, creating a manmade ingredient. The agave that is found in most markets today is chemically processed and highly concentrated with fructose, which the body cannot normally breakdown and process.
High levels of fructose are linked with many conditions but primarily obesity, diabetes and heart disease and metabolic syndrome. Also, high levels of fructose can be very damaging to your liver causing it to become fatty and diseased.
We also know that agave nectar is made in almost the same way as high fructose corn syrup "using a highly chemical process dependent on genetically modified enzymes"(http://www.westonaprice.org/modern-foods/agave-nectar-worse-than-we-thought).
Other reasons not to use agave nectar are:
- high pesticide use
- quality control is not adequate: most products being used today are less quality and can even be toxic
- high levels of saponins: saponins are toxins that disrupt red blood cells and also have been linked to miscarriages due to increased blood flow to the uterus (pregnant women should stay away from agave products)
- Stripped of all nutrients: mainly enzymes because if left in, the agave can start fermenting and turn into tequila ( Watch what you put on little Johnny's oatmeal in the morning)
If you are like me and have that uncontrollable sweet tooth beckoning you at night, use natural stevia, LoHan and if you absolutely need agave nectar, make sure that you are getting the real deal. This will be difficult and require some research and maybe even a trip to Mexico!