What's the deal with agave nectar

What’s the deal with agave nectar?

You might have heard of agave nectar. Hailed as the healthy sugar substitute, this little number can pop up in some healthy foods – particularly things like granola and health bars. So what’s the deal with it?

What is agave nectar?

A light coloured syrup, a little more runny than honey and with a milder taste. Agave nectar, as the name suggests, comes from the sap extract of a cactus-like plant. However, by the time it reaches our shelves, it’s usually been heavily refined and processed. A negative before I even start!

Healthy or not?

Agave is marketed as healthy for two main reasons:

  1. It has a lower GI than regular sugar
  2. It is sweeter than sugar so you need less of it

What's the deal with agave nectarWhilst both of these things are true to some extent, the outweighing problem is that agave can be up to 90% fructose. I’ve posted about fructose previously, but just to hammer it home, you need to limit your total consumption of fructose because…

  • An excess of frustose can lead to elevated uric acid levels (which can lead to gout), and is also associated with diabetes and kidney stones.
  • Too much fructose converts to fatty acids which are then stored as fat (belly fat if you really want to know)
  • Fructose is the addictive ‘I want more’ part of sugar that causes the emotional attachment and physical craving

In a nutshell, if you’re trying to cut your sugar consumption (i.e your fructose consumption), agave nectar is a no go. If you spot it on a list of ingredients, beware. I’ve noticed quite a few ‘healthy’ products which have it. Your sugar savvy radar should now be primed with this one.

Fruit or raw honey (approx. 30-40% fructose) would be better. Brown rice syrup or rice malt syrup would be even better (only 2% fructose).

Have you tried agave nectar and heard any of the hype? Spotted it anywhere?

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