02 June 2009

Agave

I had been curious about agave nectar and stumbled across a discussion on Richard's Free the Animal blog which referenced this article from Natural News. The bottom line is to be cautious what is defined as natural or healthy regarding sweeteners.

I think what is telling regarding avave nectar is the required processing. For instance, if one could fend off the bees, you could eat honey right from the hive. Actually, I've seen footage of bears doing exactly that - and getting stung the whole way. Whereas the Natural News implies that you can't just eat agave nectar like honey, or an apple. It requires factory time just like everyone's favorite: High Fructose Corn Syrup. Interesting quote from wiki...no wait actually shocking. Wiki is pretty middle of the road (imho), so it is surprising how they come down on this issue:

Due to its fructose content and the fact that the glycemic index only measures glucose levels, agave syrup is notable in that its glycemic index and glycemic load are lower than many other natural sweeteners on the market. [6].
However, the extremely high percentage of fructose (higher than that of high-fructose corn syrup) can be
deleterious and can trigger fructose malabsorption, metabolic syndrome[7], hypertriglyceridemia, decreased glucose tolerance, hyperinsulinemia, and accelerated uric acid formation.[8][9][10] Low-carb diet advocate Dr. Michael Eades M.D. advises to "avoid it [Agave syrup] like death".[11]

The fact that Dr. Eades really pans it carries some weight with me. Here is the link to the article where he mentions that. In his own words:

Agave was the big new product this year. Last year there were a few vendors; this year they were everywhere. They were selling agave syrup, agave nectar, agave crystals, agave this and agave that. An entire other group of vendors was promoting various products sweetened with agave. For those of you who don’t know, agave is the latest entry into the caloric-sweetener sweepstakes. It comes in a variety of forms - syrup, nectar, crystals - from the agave plant, a succulent plant found mainly in Mexico. The claim to fame of this sweetener, which was emblazoned on banners, literature, labels and just about everywhere, is that it is a low-glycemic sweetener. And it is was being touted as a great food for diabetics and any others with glucose-intolerance problems. And it is indeed low-glycemic because it is composed of about 90 percent fructose. If you think high-fructose corn syrup is bad at 55 percent fructose, just imagine what Agave syrup can do for you. Yet all these ignorant people are ga ga over it as if it were the second coming. My advice is to avoid it like death. But be prepared to be seeing it everywhere.

Another interesting graph from Wiki that I've seen before, but show the dramatic rise in HFCS consumption:


Plus here's another great discussion on Whole Health Source regarding fructose and glucose.

1 comment:

  1. In my opinion, the safest sweetner is still some fruit or no sweetner.

    The SoG

    ReplyDelete