Why I was wrong to recommend agave nectar

Posted by on Jun 30, 2011 in Nutrition | Comments Off on Why I was wrong to recommend agave nectar

Written by Wellness Warrior (Jess)


I wrote a post a couple of weeks ago claiming how great agave nectar is. With its sweet taste and natural, organic, raw and low GI guise, I thought it was the best thing since Ashton Kutcher in a rom com (we watched No Strings Attached on the weekend. Awesome movie). However it turns out that I, and many others in the natural health industry, was fooled. A couple of my clever readers left comments in the post alerting me to the fact that agave is not all it’s cracked up to be. After first being resistant to look into it further (I didn’t want this tasty treat taken away from me), I realised what a hypocrite I would be if I didn’t do the research. Boy am I glad I did, because agave is getting the boot from my diet for good. I feel thankful that I only had a couple of teaspoons of the stuff.

Agave syrup has been touted as a “healthy” natural sweetener that, because of its low glycemic index, was said to be great for diabetics. It is derived from the agave cactus plant in Mexico (the same plant that gives us tequila). But it’s the processing of agave that destroys its health cred. According to Dr Joseph Mercola agave is no better – and perhaps even worse – than the evil high fructose corn syrup.

“Most agave “nectar” or agave “syrup” is nothing more than a laboratory-generated super-condensed fructose syrup, devoid of virtually all nutrient value, and offering you metabolic misfortune in its place,” says Dr Mercola.

“Most agave syrup has a higher fructose content than any commercial sweetener – ranging from 70 to 97 percent, depending on the brand, which is far higher than high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), which averages 55 percent.”

You might be thinking that fructose can’t be all that bad, seeing as it is the main sugar in fruit. Fructose itself isn’t the devil – it’s the high amounts of it that we are exposed to that is doing the damage. Because fructose is so cheap and makes foods taste so much better, it is added to virtually every processed food. It is also important to understand that the fructose in fruits and vegetables is not the same fructose molecule you’ll find in synthetic high-fructose corn syrup and agave syrup, which is manufactured in the lab. Naturally occurring fructose comes with fibre, enzymes, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, whereas fructose sweeteners have been stripped of all this nutritional value. Fructose is one of the leading causes of obesity because it is almost exclusively broken down in the liver and is directly converted to dangerous fats.

Dr. Ingrid Kohlstadt, a fellow of the American College of Nutrition and an associate faculty member at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, confirms the dangers of agave:

“Agave is almost all fructose, a highly processed sugar with great marketing.”

The news isn’t all bad though. We don’t need agave to make the world go round. Check back in tomorrow and I’ll give you the low down on the best healthy natural sweeteners so that you can choose the right ones for you.

Click here to read about the dangers of artificial sweeteners.

Were you already aware of the agave con? Does this information make you want to avoid it?

Positive affirmation for the day: My life is determined by how I react to my circumstances. I have the power to create the life I want.