We’ve gotten a question from one of our Facebook friends, who is confused about agave nectar, a sweetener that has gotten itself a health halo in some circles over the past few years. Below you’ll find the facts. Bottom line – the health halo is not justified, but that does not mean agave nectar is bad for you. But then again, neither is sugar. It’s all a matter of limiting intake, something we have trouble doing, what with all the processed foods “fortified” with sweeteners out there.
What you need to know:
1. Agave nectar is derived from Agave plants grown in Mexico. There are several processing methods used to obtain the syrupy sweetener, but you can’t just tap into the plant like you would with maple syrup.
2. Agave nectar is composed mostly of fructose, and also glucose.
3. It has a slightly lower glycemic index than table sugar, due to the fact that glycemic index measures only glucose levels, and agave nectar has less glucose than sugar.
4. Agave nectar has the same number of calories as sugar, 4 calories per gram. that works out to 16 calories per teaspoon.
5. Agave nectar is about one and a half times sweeter than table sugar, which means you need to use less to reach the same sweet point. That works out to slightly less calories for the same level of sweet.
6. Many vegans prefer to use agave nectar in recipes calling for honey as no animals are involved in its processing.
7. Agave dissolves quickly in water and is sometimes used as a sweetener for cold drinks.
8. Tequila (yes, the alcoholic drink) is a cousin of agave nectar. Blue agave (Agave tequilana) is the source for both. Agave nectar can also be made from other types of agave plants.
What to do at the supermarket:
Agave is a sweetener thats neither bad nor good for you. Like all sweeteners, it is best consumed sparingly.
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