Agave is often touted as a super healthy alternative to sugar. We have been told over and over again that it is raw, all natural, does not contain glucose, does not spike blood sugar, and so on… however, these claims are not necessarily true.
Agave nectar is indeed made from the agave plant… but not the actual nectar. Agave “nectar” is actually made from the starchy root of the plant. It is combined with inulin, a complex carbohydrate comprised of chains of fructose molecules through a highly chemical process. By the time we consume this “nectar” it is in the form of a highly indigestible fiber. Furthermore, it contains 70% (or higher) fructose. To put this in perspective, high fructose corn syrup (also not on the “healthy sweeteners” list) only contains 55%.
Why is fructose frowned upon? Fructose in moderation, and in it’s natural form (i.e. fruit) is not the issue. The problem is when it’s ingested in high quantities. Fructose is metabolized for energy by the body and stored as adenosine triphosphate, or ATP. When your ATP levels are high excess fructose will be converted into fat and stored by your tissues for future use. In our society, we rarely need to call upon these fat reserves, as new calories are constantly being ingested, stored as energy, etc. Not only is fructose stored as fat, an abundance of fructose can be very damaging to the heart and liver.
In short, agave syrup is highly refined, highly concentrated, and highly unnatural. Don’t fret! There are many healthy alternatives to satisfy your sweet tooth. Opt for coconut nectar, palm sugar, or stevia in place of agave. Your body will thank you.