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The Inside Scoop on Agave Nectar

The Inside Scoop on Agave Nectar

Forty miles northwest of Guadalajara, in the arid highlands of western Mexico, lies the town of Tequila. In the hills surrounding the town, the subdued blue of the Agave tequilana plant colors the countryside. The region’s farmers grow and harvest acre upon acre of the plant.

They discard the plant’s succulent, spiky leaves, despite their beauty, and focus instead on the pineapple-like heart of the plant, which has created a lot of buzz recently, not only for its best-known derivative, tequila, but also for its sweet, health-promoting nectar.

Increasing numbers of health connoisseurs have discovered that Agave nectar is an ideal substitute for sugar and artificial sweeteners like NutraSweet and Splenda.

Its appeal stems not only from its super sweetness–varieties of Agave nectar range anywhere from 25 to 45 percent sweeter than sugar–but also from its low ranking on the glycemic index (a chart that measures how much and how quickly a food raises blood sugar). Since the fructose in Agave gets broken down into glucose more slowly in your stomach, it doesn’t spike your blood sugar or insulin levels as much. That means you avoid a sugar crash-and the fatigue and hunger that go along with it.

The low-glycemic nature of Agave also helps protect you from diabetes-related problems like insulin resistance and insulin deficiency, both partly caused by dramatic swings in glucose levels.

Isabel H. Clark, RHN, a Washington, DC-based holistic nutrition counselor and founder of Clark Wellness (www.clarkwellness.net), uses Agave nectar instead of honey for this very reason. “Depending on the brand, honey can range from about 62 to 83 on the glycemic index, and Agave usually scores 11 to 19. That’s a big difference,” she says.

Vegans, too, consider Agave the perfect substitute for honey. You can easily mix it into any warm or cold drink, or substitute it for sugar or honey in many baking recipes.

“Agave works well as a 1-to-1 substitute in any recipe that calls for honey,” says Clark. “When using Agave in baked goods calling for sugar, such as cakes or cookies, keep in mind that Agave is a syrup, not a dry sweetener.” Adjust for that by using less liquid in the recipe (on average, about 1/4 cup less, though that varies depending on the recipe).

Also, take into account the extra sweetness of the nectar. You may need only 1/3 to 1/2 cup Agave for every cup of sugar.

Try these recipes from Natural Solutions Magazine online:
Chocolate Agave Mousse
Cinnamon-Cacao Smoothie

Or these from Care2:
Sweet Coconut Cream (Dairy-Free)
Healthier Carrot Cake
5 Raw Vegan Salad Dressings

Natural Solutions: Vibrant Health, Balanced Living offers its readers the latest news on health conditions, herbs and supplements, natural beauty products, healing foods and conscious living. Click here for a free sample issue.

Read more: Health, Basics, Diabetes, Diet & Nutrition, , , , , ,

By Andrew Behrendt, Natural Solutions magazine

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29 comments

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7:29PM PDT on Aug 8, 2013

I've often seen this at the health store but I've never tried it.

6:15AM PDT on Mar 11, 2013

thanks

7:02AM PST on Jan 2, 2013

Thanks. Remember though that honey is natural too and low GI.

2:31PM PST on Nov 19, 2012

good to know

3:02PM PDT on Jul 28, 2012

Thanks.

6:09AM PDT on Jul 28, 2012

But it has one advantage: it's used in making tequila!!! ;-)

3:48PM PDT on Jun 1, 2012

Thank you for sharing.

2:38PM PDT on Sep 5, 2011

Thank you

9:46PM PDT on May 6, 2011

I like it!

7:11AM PST on Feb 1, 2010

Agave is pretty tastey. But it is sugar (15g per T). So I try to use it in moderation like honey or any other sugar. I use it to make all natural lemonade. Yum!

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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