With all these #IQS and #SugarFree diets making the rounds in the health and nutrition industry, it’s difficult to not come across words like xylitol, rice malt syrup and agave nectar.
They sound like a healthy thing to eat and include in your baking section of pantry, but in reality, are they really all that healthy and good for you?
Agave might sound like something out of a fairytale with its nectar-full goodness, but in reality, it’s the biggest marketing gimmick out on the shelves to get you.
What Is Agave Nectar Made From?
Be prepared for some science…
According to FoodRenegade.com, “agave ‘nectar’ is not made from the sap of the yucca or agave plant, but from the starch of the giant pineapple-like, root bulb. The principal constituent of the agave root is starch, similar to the starch in corn or rice, and a complex carbohydrate called inulin, which is made up of chains of fructose molecules.Technically a highly indigestible fiber, inulin, which does not taste sweet, comprises about half of the carbohydrate content of agave.
The process by which agave glucose and inulin are converted into ‘nectar’ is similar to the process by which corn starch is converted into HFCS. The agave starch is subject to an enzymatic and chemical process that converts the starch into a fructose-rich syrup — anywhere from 70% fructose and higher according to the agave nectar chemical profiles posted on agave nectar websites. They are indeed made the same way, using a highly chemical process with genetically modified enzymes.
They are also using caustic acids, clarifiers, filtration chemicals, and so forth in the conversion of agave starches into highly refined fructose inulin that is even higher in fructose content than high fructose corn syrup. Agave nectar is not traditional, highly refined, and actually has more concentrated fructose than high fructose corn syrup. It is not a ‘natural’ sweetener. Thus far, the evidence definitely points toward the conclusion: agave nectar is bad.”
Is it Bad for Diabetics?
The concentrated fructose, i.e. what’s in agave nectar, is just as nasty. It’s digests in the liver and it turns into stored body fat. It doesn’t convert like other sugars; that’s why people claim it’s safe for diabetics.
What’s the Alternative?
Have real maple syrup or manuka honey that’s of the nice kind – don’t cave in for agave nectar just because Cameron Diaz has it on her morning cereal.
Or skip it all together and add extra herbs, citrus, or even spices! I’m obsessed with cinnamon as a sweetener in my a.m. coffee because it evens out blood sugar and it cuts the bitterness. Basically using spices for sweetener is a win-win.
What’s your favourite kind of sweetener?