Sugar is ubiquitous in our diet. Many people also feel the need to add extra sugar or other sugars sweeteners to add to their food or drink. A (natural) replacement is increasingly being sought for ‘normal’ (white) sugar, such as cane sugar, honey, stevia or agave. In this article we look at the sugar substitute agave syrup). Is it really as healthy as it is said? And what are the benefits of agave over regular sugar?
What is agave?
Agave comes from a cactus-like plant, which resembles the Aloe Vera plant in appearance. There are several species of agave, which occur naturally in the Americas and especially in Mexico. The agave plant grows slowly. Only after seven to fourteen years the plant is fully grown and the leaves can be cut off, after which the core remains. In that core is the agave, which can be processed into agave syrup by means of filtering and heating. Agave syrup , agave syrup or agave nectar are different names for the same product. So it is a sweetener, which is produced from the agave plant. It is sweeter than regular sugar (between 20-30%) and slightly thinner than honey.
The healthy image of agave
The agave at the core of the plant is full of vitamins and minerals. During the processing of the pure agave into agave syrup, it does lose some of those vitamins and minerals. You can compare it with honey: the more processing, the less good remains. Agave syrup gets its healthy image mainly from the high fructose content (over 85-90%). Although it is a lot sweeter than regular sugar, the glycemic index of agave syrup also very low. This means that the blood sugar level doesn’t get such a big boost when you take the agave syrup. As a result, agave exerts a lesser influence on the blood sugar level than regular sugar, which has a large impact on the blood sugar level due to the high glucose content (50%). This gives Agave a good and healthy image .
Agave as a superfood
Agave is also known as a superfood because of its health benefits. As an alternative sweetener, agave is a superfood, which can be especially important for diabetic patients. Through the low glucose level and therefore low glycemic index, agave syrup has less influence on blood sugar levels than normal white sugar and sugars are absorbed more evenly in the body. This causes the blood sugar level to fluctuate less. Two nice side-effects of agave are that, because of its effect on the body, you are less bothered by appetite (which is good for the line) and that you need less of this natural sweetener than regular sugar.
Health Risks Of Agave
All that positive naturally leads to the question whether there are also health risks of agave to be. Excessive consumption of sweeteners is never good and neither is agave syrup, despite its positive properties. Too much (concentrated) intake of fructose can lead to various disorders such as fructose malabsorption, insulin resistance syndrome, impaired glucose tolerance and accelerated uric acid formation. Since agave consists for the most part of fructose and agave syrup a refined product it should be used sparingly. If you use agave syrup in normal amounts, you will be able to enjoy the health benefits of agave.
Fake agave syrup
Agave syrup is often mentioned as a healthy alternative to sugar and is very popular today. However, that also means that there are many products on the market that are not pure. These agave syrup products are mixed with cheaper forms of sugar, so that it no longer has the same composition and effect as real agave syrup. So pay close attention when buying agave products.
agave vs. Sugar
The big question is, of course, whether agave is really a lot healthier than sugar or worse. The answer is that it’s not necessarily healthier, but it’s also not necessarily worse than sugar. It is still best to reduce your sugar intake in any form. But if the intake of agave syrup is limited, it can be caused by the effect of agave for diabetic patientsn are more favorable to use agave than normal sugar. Also for people without diabetes agave syrup a good alternative to sugar for example in desserts or when baking pies and cakes. However, people with a fructose intolerance should stay away from agave.
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