Agave nectar is one of them. Praised for it's low glycemic response making it a perfect sugar substitute for weight loss, diabetics, and overall health.
Unfortunately agave nectar is just a bunch of stickiness!
The agave plant contains a naturally circulating fluid rich in sugars. The plant is pressed to extract this fluid which if the manufacturing process stopped here agave nectar could be considered to be a healthy alternative to sugar.
However the process does not. This agave nectar is then heated and exposed to specific enzymes that breakdown the healthier fructans into fructose.
What you are left with is a concentrated fructose syrup claimed to be a healthy alternative to sugar. Sound familiar...high fructose corn syrup!
Agave syrup is claimed to be healthier sweetener because it is low on the glycemic index (GI). The glycemic index measures how quickly the glucose in a food enters your blood stream. High GI foods trigger large insulin releases and low GI foods trigger low insulin releases with the latter being a much healthier and sought after response.
The reason that agave syrup has such a low GI is because it is almost exclusively fructose. Your body does not process fructose well and therefore is does not go immediately into the blood stream. Hence why high fructose containing foods have a low GI and are therefore claimed to be a healthier option for weight loss and for diabetics.
When looking at the results both from a weight loss and a health perspective fructose does appear to beat out it's cousin glucose...at least in the short term.
But over the long term it is a vastly different story.
You see every cell in your body needs glucose. It is a nutrient that is essential for life to exist. Because of this every cell in your body can metabolize and "burn" glucose.
Fructose on the other hand is a different story. Only your liver can metabolize fructose and in relatively small amounts. Therefore when a specific food is consumed that is high is fructose your liver quickly gets overloaded.
This over loading causes a whole array of issues some of which include fat gain, decreased metabolic health, increased LDL cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, and may be one of the main contributors to the poor overall health of many individuals eating a conventional western diet.
So two things may be running through your mind...
If fructose is so bad why is fruit considered healthy?
Fruit is healthy because it contains glucose, fructose and fiber. The amount of fructose in fruit is typically fairly low, at least low enough that our liver can handle it, and the fiber content in the fruit helps offset the GI response by slowing digestion.
Secondly, ok if agave syrup is so bad then why is sugar a healthier option?
Agave syrup is almost entirely fructose...about 85% to be exact. Your typical table sugar however is about 50% glucose and 50% fructose. The higher the ratio of glucose to fructose the healthier you could consider a sweetener to be. At least from a long term health perspective.
Clearly this is not an invitation to start eating loads of sugar. We as a society have crossed that bridge and it is not serving us very well.
The reduction of any sweeteners from your diet is a good thing. This goes for both natural and especially artificial. Your body can very easily get all the glucose it needs from vegetables, fruits, and starchy carbs such as yams, sweet potatoes, rice, quinoa, etc., without needing any from "sugary" sources.
What this is an invitation for is to become more aware about what really goes on behind the scenes. Just because something is claimed to be a healthier option does not make it so.
Don't be fooled...agave syrup is much worse for your overall health than your run of the mill table sugar!
In my opinion you can toss agave syrup right into the trash along with high fructose corn syrup.
Live Your Best Life!