agave

Sweetener: What is Agave?

Photo by  Erol Ahmed  on  Unsplash

Photo by Erol Ahmed on Unsplash

Agave

The agave plant is native to the southern US, Latin America and South America. Although agave is a new phenomenon in the West, it has been used in Mexico for hundreds — and perhaps thousands — of years.

Traditionally, agave was believed to have medicinal properties. Its sap was also boiled to produce a sweetener known as miel de agave. The sugars in agave are also fermented to make tequila. In fact, tequila is the most common commercial use of agave today and one of Mexico's best-known exports. Like many plants, agave probably does have some health benefits. However, refining and processing tend to destroy some — or all — of these beneficial health effects. The refined agave sweetener that people consume today is no exception. (Source: www.healthline.com )

When the agave has grown to 7-10 years old, the leaves of the plant are cut off, revealing the core of the plant (called the "pina"). When harvested, the pina resembles a giant pineapple and can weigh in at 50 to 150 pounds. To make the agave nectar, sap is extracted from the pina, filtered, and heated at a low temperature, which breaks down the carbohydrates into sugars. Lighter and darker varieties of agave nectar are made from the same plants. Because of the low temperatures used in processing many varieties (under 118°F) raw foods enthusiasts generally regard agave nectar as a raw food. (Source: www.allaboutagave.com )

It is believed by many in the wellness community that the agave sweetener sold today is made by treating agave sugars with heat and enzymes, which destroys all its potentially beneficial health effects. The end product is a highly refined, unhealthy syrup. (Source: www.healthline.com )

Agave nectar is low in glucose and therefore doesn't spike blood sugar levels much. This gives the sweetener a low glycemic index. (Source: www.healthline.com )

Because agave syrup is much higher in fructose than plain sugar, it has a higher potential for causing adverse health effects, such as increased belly fat and fatty liver disease. (Source: www.healthline.com )

NOTE FROM TIFFANY: While attending a juicing retreat many years ago, I spent a lot of a time with a Naturopathic doctor who recommended that I not use Agave. She explained information similar to www.healthline.com that the modern processing of the agave nectar strips it of its traditional medicinal uses and you are left with a highly-refined syrup that is marketed as healthy.

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