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Agave is Sweet, maybe it is too Sweet

April 1, 2015

By Joan McDaniel             April 1, 2015

A Word of Warning for the Sugar Substitute called “Agave Nectar”

There is a sugar “replacement” being marketed called Agave Nectar or Syrup.  It is being promoted as a “Natural Sweetener” , “Wholesome sweetener” and as an alternative to honey used in cooking and juicing. It is sold in the Grocery Store  in the cooking section next to the “Natural Honey”.  The promoters call it a “Low Glycemic Sweetener”.

With the growing awareness of the dangers of sugar substitutes as “NutraSweet” or Aspartame and its many side effects, many people concerned about their sugar intake are considering agave as a safer “natural sweetener”  alternative.


Agave Nector

Agave syrup isn’t as thick as honey, is easier to use and it comes from a plant rather than an animal. The syrup or nectar dissolves quickly and is commonly used as cooking alternative in vegan or raw foods recipes and in cold beverages.

But There Is More To The Story

I first notices the Agave sweetener when I saw it as an additive in a Protein Bar I use to eat. I then noticed it in a box labeled “Organic Stevia” I never thought much about it until I read a republished article  by Dr. Mercola, “Shocking! The “Tequila” Sweetener Agave Is Far Worse Than High Fructose Corn Syrup” said the article.

Agave is also commonly being used in breakfast cereals and other processed food as a binding agent and alternate to the other sugar substitutes like aspartame.

I Became Intrigued and Started My Own Research

My purpose  of this blog is to describe how I got well from being very sick.  One of the first things I did was slowly decrease my intake of processed foods especially food high in carbs and processed sugar.  I have a sweet tooth, and dare I say so does America.  I have found the natural sweetener from Sweetleaf called Stevia to help sweeten things up.

Stevia so far has been found to not affect the body as other sweetness but all intake of the sweet things of life need to be used sparingly.  Stevia is recommended by many including Dr. Mercola. Sweeteners using small amounts of xylitol can also be used.  I use my Smidgen of Stevia.

Glycemic Index is misleading

Agave syrup is being promoted as a “Low Glycemic Sweetener”.Stevia has a glycemic index of zero, but I find the glycemic index is very misleading.  The Glycemic Index developed in the 1980s by Dr. David J. Jenkins measures only how fast the sugar or carbohydrate rises your blood sugar level after the consumption of food. It does not cover the overall effects of what a diet high is sugar does to your cells. Sugar loves and feeds acid and an acid pH balance hates oxygen.  Without oxygen your cells can’t breath you then have inflammation and pain. Your cells are literally crying out for oxygen. It doesn’t really matter how fast or slow the process takes.

I have learned not to trust the glycemic index yet many manufactures use it to indicate how safe their product is. The Glycemic Index needs further research. Even a low glycemic index can cause insulin resistance which is worse than the normal high then low roller coaster effect sugar.

Sugar “the bad Carb” is Bad but High Fructose Corn Syrup is Worse.

As this blog and many others have indicated, a diet high in sugar is not good for your health.  Sugar is everywhere.  Sugar is a carbohydrate and is also called “the Bad Carb” which means carbohydrates that come from processed foods. “Good Carbs” are carbohydrates that are natural like fresh vegetables grown in your own garden.  Both contain Sugar just in different amounts.

Consumption of large amounts of sugar in any form can be dangerous to good health and can trigger border line diabetes, full-blown diabetes, malabsorption, metabolic syndrome, hyperglycemia, hypoglycemia, glucose intolerance, insulin resistance, leaky gut, and the formation of uric acid.

In other words high consumption of sugar in any form is not good for your health.

Agave Syrups are sold as a replacement for sugar or honey.

Agave syrup is being sold as a, “low-glycemic sweetener” with a pure sweet flavor.  It is sold in three varieties.  Light with a Neutral, mild flavor.  Amber with a rich, full flavor, and Raw a low-temp, smooth flavor.  Light is used for delicate-tasting dishes and beverages.  Amber gives the dish an almost caramel flavor and Raw or Dark has a much strong taste.  Used for desserts, seafood and meat dishes.  Both amber and dark can be used as a topping like maple syrup is used for pancakes.

Raw Agave is considered raw for it is produced at temperatures below 118 °F (48 °C) this protects the natural enzymes and also prevents the syrup from being fermented and turned into Tequila.

The sweetener Agave is actually worse than HFCS. 

As it turns out what is in the Agave nectar is twice as harmful and High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS).  All processed sugar contains HFCS, from table sugar to honey.  Most sugar is a mixture of fructose and glucose.  Table sugar is a 50/50 mix, HFCS is 55/45 and Agave nectar is 90% fructose almost twice as high as HFCS.

 imagesAgave Plant showing Water-storing cells in leaves

So What Exactly Is Agave?

Agave is an exotic plant grown in the rich volcanic soil of Mexico under a hot tropical sun.  It has a stately flower that blooms only once in its lifetime.  “Agave” is translated to mean “noble”.  The ancients regarded the plant as a healing plant.  The leaves would be cut and chewed for its sweetness and healing power.  Ferment the plant and you have Mexico’s favorite adult beverage Tequila.  The name “agave” conjures up images of romantic tropical excursions and mysterious shamanic medicine.

When not distilled the leaves are used to make Agave syrup.

The Agave Plant May Look Like Aloe Vera but is More like Sugar Cane

On the outside to the untrained eye the Agave and Aloe Vera plant look very much alike.  Both plants look like cacti but neither plant is from the cacti family.  Cacti leaves are covered with spikes for inside it holds the magic of hidden water when in a dry arid desert.

Aloe and Agaves are succulent of the yucca family, more closely related to amaryllis and other lilies.

The difference between Agave and Aloe is on the inside the leaf. The Agave leaf is used to produce Agave nectar (or agave syrup).  The leaves of the Aloe Vera Plant are used to heal.

Aloe Vera reputation is that of health and healing.  The Agave reputation is that of being distilled into alcohol that is used to make Tequila.  Agave is sweet and is now being marketed as a Natural Safe Sugar Substitute.

Like many plants in their natural state, Agave has health benefits.  But the agave leaf is hard and cannot be eaten or digested, it can only be chewed and sucked.

However, as is so often the case, when the product is processed and refined it tends to lose some (or all) of these beneficial health effects. This appears to be the case with the refined Agave sweetener that people are consuming today.


Agave Plant Leafs must be cut with an ax

Aloe-Vera-ExtractAgave on the outside may look like Aloe Vera but it is anything but. Inside the Aloe Vera Plant is a soft slimy mucus gel which has the reputation and is used to help healing.   In my article, I called “Aloe Vera: I may look rugged but I’m just a big softy.

canstock5449950The Agave Leaf once cut looks more like sugar cane than the soft insides of the Aloe Vera Leaf

Agave Plant Leaf – Is used to produce Agave nectar (or agave syrup).  It is a sweetener commercially produced from several species of agave, including Agave tequilana (blue agave) and Agave salmiana.


images-2Sugarcane – belongs to the grass family (Poaceae).  It is a seed plant that includes many forage crops, rice, sorghum, maize, and wheat. The main productive sugarcane is sucrose (sugar) and is fermented to produce ethanol.



Both Sugar Cane and Agave Need to be Processed

To Process Sugar cane it first is cut from the field than milled and refined into 99% sucrose

To Process Agave Syrup is much more complicated for the sap is normally fermented into Tequila alcohol.  It is a complex process to get into but essentially it requires a lab and a complex process to stop enzyme production and fermentation to create the syrup. The difference is controlled in the lab.

Now What is Tequila?

Tequila – A regional distilled beverage.  Tequila generally exists in two-forms: 100% blue agave and mixes.  The best Tequila or the high-end uses what is called blue agave primarily from the area surrounding the city of Tequila.  This area thrives in the Jalisco’s red volcanic soil and over 300 million plants are harvested each year.

Only Tequila using 100% blue agave can be labeled as such, the other Tequila’s use a mixture (mixtos) of agave and other processed sugars. Tequila can only be produced in certain areas in

Most Tequila sold in North America are a mixture, including the well-known brands such as Jose Cuervo and Sauza. The 100% agave label indicates all government standards have been met.  Also note the salt and lemon ritual is a North American ritual.  It is unheard of anywhere else.

Agave is used to make all forms of Tequila


High Grade Tequila


The Truth About Agave Nectar: It’s All Hype

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