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Is Organic Raw Agave Syrup a Healthy Sweetener?
Posted on March 19th, 2010 by admin.
Agave syrup is a sweetener derived from agave, a desert plant found in the western and southern United States, Mexico, and parts of Central and South America. Agave is more popularly known as the plant used to make tequila but agave syrup (also known as agave nectar) has actually been used for thousands of years as a food ingredient. Mexicans call it aguamiel or “honey water” because it is about 40 percent sweeter than sugar.
Because of the increasing awareness of the dangers of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), people have turned to “healthier” sugar alternatives, which is what food manufacturers are marketing agave syrup to be. But don’t be fooled, Dr. Joseph Mercola warns, becauseagave syrup is actually WORSE than HFCS!
Before anything else, why is fructose so unhealthy for you? First, your body metabolizes fructose very differently from glucose, the form of sugar every cell in your body uses for energy. Fructose is broken down in your liver in the same way as alcohol and is directly converted into dangerous fats, making you, well, fat. Consuming too much fructose is a major risk factor for obesity and weight gain, spikes your uric acid levels and impairs your appetite control mechanism, among other things, Mercola explains.
Here are the reasons why Dr. Mercola believes you should avoid agave syrup like the plague:
- Agave syrup contains the highest amount of fructose – anywhere between 70 to 97 percent, depending on the brand – among all commercial sweetener s, which is FAR HIGHER than HFCS (55 percent on average).
- Agave syrup is a highly-processed sweetener. Food manufacturers would like you to believe that agave nectar flows from the agave plant to the jar when in reality, the syrup is produced similarly to how cornstarch turns to HFCS. A natural agave syrup is available in Mexico but it is too expensive to produce. What you gets to the States is either the light or dark syrup – due to poor quality control, some of the product gets burnt and turns dark amber in color.
- Agave syrup is highly addictive because it’s basically a sweeter and highly-concentrated form of sugar.
- Agave syrup may be a highly sprayed crop. The FDA has rejected shipments of the product due to excessive pesticide residues.
- Agave syrup has no nutritional value. It is not whole food or a live one. Processing has stripped it of the nutrients contained in the agave plant, and of natural enzymes to prevent it from fermenting into tequila.
- Agave syrup contains large amounts of toxic steroid derivatives called saponins, which are associated with diarrhea, disruption of red blood cells and vomiting. Saponins also stimulate blood flow to the uterus, which is why pregnant women should avoid agave products due to the possible risk of miscarriage.
- Agave syrup may contain an organic, heat-formed contaminant called hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF), which has suspected toxic, mutagenic and carcinogenic effects.
Dr. Mercola advises a severely reduced consumption of sugar if you want to improve your health. But if you need to satisfy your sweet tooth, there are healthier alternatives to HFCS and agave. Pure glucose will set you back about a dollar per pound and does not have the harmful effects of fructose when used in moderation. You can also try other health products and natural sweeteners like Lo Han andstevia. Again, the keywords are use in moderation.