Like a lot of people, I jumped on the agave-nectar wagon several years ago, believing the packaging that said it was “raw,” “all-natural,” often “organic,” with a “low glycemic index” (I’ve always had blood-sugar issues). I quickly noticed a bad reaction whenever I had more than the tiniest amount: It gave me an intense sugar rush and I wanted to keep eating it and eating it and eating it like a junkie. I stopped consuming it, and have since learned about its high fructose content (you can read about the science of that in the linked articles) and the misleading claims about its origins.
“Native Mexican peoples do make a sort of sweetener out of the agave plant. It’s called miel de agave, and it’s made by boiling the agave sap for a couple of hours. Think of it as the Mexican version of authentic Canadian maple syrup.
“But this is not what most so-called ‘agave nectar’ is. According to one popular agave nectar manufacturer, ‘Agave nectar is a newly created sweetener, having been developed in the 1990s.'”
“Agave nectar is not traditional, is highly refined, and actually has more concentrated fructose than high-fructose corn syrup. It is not a ‘natural’ sweetener.”
“In spite of manufacturers’ claims, 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 [high fructose corn syrup]. The agave starch is subject to an enzymatic and chemical process that converts the starch into a fructose-rich syrup—anywhere from 70 percent fructose and higher…. For comparison, the high fructose corn syrup used in sodas is 55 percent refined fructose.”
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