Concerns about sugar consumption are really high currently due to the high diabetic population and our more health conscious society. This is why the sugar alternatives are everywhere, the oldies like Sweet n’ low and equal along with the newer versions like Splenda and Truvia. The most recent to the scene and one patients are often asking me if they should be using is Agave Nectar. All I really knew about it is that it has been touted as a much healthier alternative to honey minus the “sugar high” because it has a much lower glycemic index. I have done some research this week to see if I would recommend using this sparingly.
The agave plant is similar to a cactus, and the sweetener comes from both Blue Agave (commonly known for Tequila) and Salmiana agave. The liquid is collected from both the plants and then are processed thermally or by enzymes into agave nectar. The liquid is not naturally sweet but when its fructose units are separated in production, they syrup becomes sweet. However, through this process, many of the original nutrients that would be factors toward more optimal health are lost.
Furthermore, the end product is about 90% fructose. It is low glycemic, but research on the high consumption of fructose shows that other health related issues may arise like an impaired ability to metabolize glucose and interference with the formation of collagen and elastin (important for our connective tissue health). I was shocked to find further research that shows that agave nectar converts to fat more easily than any other sugar. Therefore, this is not an ideal alternative to table sugar. I recommend you avoid agave nectar due to it being highly processed and the health issues it may cause.