Agave as a Health Food Uncovering the Myths
Agave is often listed as a health food. After all, it is naturally sourced and agave extract is known to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Unfortunately, manufactured blue agave syrup, also cleverly marketed as “nectar of the gods”, is closer to high-fructose corn syrup than actual fruit.
How Agave Syrup is Produced
Although agave nectar is acclaimed as being gluten free and suitable for vegan diets, it is highly processed, has the highest fructose content of any commercial sweetener and retains none of the properties of the original agave extract.
This chemically intensive product uses toxic chemicals, genetically modified enzymes and acids to extract the starch from the agave root bulb rather than from the sap. It is then processed to produce a highly artificial chemical-packed fructose that has absolutely no goodness or health-promoting properties whatsoever.
Different Types of Fructose
In the agave plant, most of the fructose is a type called inulin, which is considered a fiber, but precious little of this beneficial substance is ever found in the highly processed agave syrup. In contrast, natural fruit contains levulose, which includes amino acids, natural fiber, minerals, pectin and fatty acids. Manufactured fructose, such as agave syrup, is a free-formed isolated compound that is not bound to any of these good properties that makes the sugar digestible. In fact it so foreign and unnatural that it cannot be digested in the intestine. The body has to metabolize it in the liver where it turns into triglycerides and adipose fatty tissue – all likely to induce obesity and heart disease.
The Dangers of Agave Nectar
If you already know to avoid products containing unhealthy high fructose corn syrup, then consider this: high fructose corn syrup is 55% fructose but agave nectar contains 70-90%! It is simply a highly concentrated, liver-fattening sugar. Perhaps it should be known by a less romantic name, such as hydrolyzed high-fructose inulin syrup, which is a more accurate definition.
In addition, synthetic fructose such as agave syrup is known to inhibit the production of leptin, a natural hormone used to regulate hunger, another trigger for obesity. Agave nectar also contains high levels of toxic steroid derivatives called saponins, which can cause everything from mild diarrhea and vomiting to a disruption in our red blood cells.
Agave for Diabetics
Agave is frequently hailed as being a suitable sweetener for diabetics as it has a low glycemic impact. However, high levels of fructose from any source interfere with the body’s metabolism and people can become fructose intolerant if fed an overload, such as from agave syrup. Even though their blood sugar readings appear to be normal, they can develop the symptoms of diabetes, or may erupt with spots and acne.
Sugar is something our body does not need and it should only be consumed in small amounts, whether in actual sugar, high fructose corn syrup, or even agave. Any type of sugar, including fructose, should be avoided in large quantities. It is known to accelerate the signs of aging, promote chronic disease, put on weight and actually saps you of energy rather than giving an energy boost.