Throughout my posts, I have included a lot of recipes that utilize agave nectar as a sweetener, and I have been totally fine with this. Mainly because I–like most folks– have been under the impression that it is a worthwhile substitute for refined sugars. I have enjoyed using it in baking and cooking, for my chia gel (which I touted a couple weeks ago)…I thought I was on the right track.
However, it was pointed out to me the other day by my lovely, intelligent, and highly educated aunt (also a health coach) that agave–like so many things in this world–might not be all it’s been cracked up to be.
So why exactly is this, I hear you ask? Well, turns out that the reason agave ranks so low on the glycemic index is because it has a high fructose content…and fructose doesn’t really raise blood sugar all that much, since the body doesn’t metabolize it very well. New research suggests that ingesting too much fructose can damage liver function and contribute to obesity. Total bummer. To top it off, agave actually has a higher fructose content than any other common sweetener, including high fructose corn syrup.
Fructose is partly responsible for all kinds of crappy health side effects, most notably contributing to type 2 diabetes, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, heart disease and cancer. And frankly, Americans consume waaaay too much of it for their own good. So if you’re trying to err on the healthy side, my suggestion would be to gradally replace your agave use with something like maple syrup, or even blackstrap molasses (dark as tar but high in iron and other minerals). Any of the recipes I’ve posted here so far would be fine with a substitution of maple syrup.
I discussed this in one of my posts a few weeks ago, but the over-arching message is to moderate your sugar intake as a whole, in whatever form that might be. You’ll drop weight, feel better, and have more energy to do all the great things you love to do.