Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Agave Nectar (a.k.a. Liquid Death?!)

Agave Nectar - what Robb Wolf calls "Liquid Death"; comparing it to corn syrup!

A common question I often hear is whether Agave Nectar is "ok" to use. Aferall, it has a low glycemic index and comes from a "natural" source, so it must be healthy...right?!
Perhaps delving a bit deeper into how that "natural" source is processed and, hence, how your body will digest it is the more important question.
Prior to going strict Paleo myself, the buzz that was going around was that Agave was the healthiest sweetener one could/should have, so I used Agave Nectar as my sweetener. Most people that are not strict Paleo are somewhat on the fence regarding this product. Ask Paleo folks, however, and most of them have the same opinion - eliminate it from your diet.
Once I joined the ranks of caveman-style eating, I decided to do more reading and research regarding real nutrition and the details behind Agave Nectar . Within a week, I made my decision to forgo sugar - ALL forms of sugar - including Agave Nectar.
The more I read about this sweetener, the more I realized it simply did not fit into my requirements for clean eating. I was simply substituting one sweetener for another, regardless of the source, and knew that the best decision would be to eliminate sugar completely.
So back to the question...is Agave Nectar ok to use?
Don't just take my word for it, make up your own mind by reading some excerpts below and going to the link provided for some detailed reading.
....Agave Syrup is not a “whole” food. It is a fractionated and processed food. Manufacturers take the liquid portion of the agave plant and “boil” it down, thus concentrating the sugar to make it sweet. This is similar to how maple “sap” that comes directly from a tree is heated and concentrated to make maple “syrup.” Agave Syrup is missing many of the nutrients that the original plant had to begin with.
...Agave Syrup and other concentrated sweeteners are addictive, so you end up trading a cooked addiction (eating candy bars or cookies) for a “raw” addiction which is not much better. Eating concentrated sweeteners makes it harder to enjoy the sweet foods we should be eating – whole fresh fruit since they don’t seem as sweet by comparison.
....Agave needs to be hydrolyzed so that the complex fructosans are "broken down" into fructose units or it won't be sweet!!


  1. Maria,

    What do you drink in your coffee? Or what would you recommend for someone who likes coffee, but only if it's sweetened a little?


  2. Laurie,
    I put unsweetened almond milk in my coffee. No sugar. I USED to drink my coffee with at least a heaping teaspoon of sugar until I began to realize and be conscious of what I put into my body. I started by cutting down on the sugar until I no longer used any.

    If you want to see complete results in your health and performance, I would strive to cut out sugar from your diet.

    If that's not something you are willing to do, I would still opt for sugar as opposed to artificial sweeteners. The amount of sugar you put in your coffee is probably not something to worry about, unless you use a lot. At the very least, cut down on the amount of sugar you use if it's a daily habit.

    Hope that was helpful.

  3. ive been printing lots of your recipes so the apple crisp uses this, what do u sub now? --banu

  4. Banu -
    This article is pertinent to those folks that rely on agave for their daily/weekly consumption. Using agave for that recipe is not something I would worry about except if you're doing the challenge and you are not allowed to be consuming any sugar - including artificial sweeteners/agave!
    If I were to make the apple crisp after the challenge, I would personally use RAW honey (it should say 100% raw on the label), since it goes through no processing compared to the high temperature processing that is necessary for the agave nectar.
    Vitamins, nutrients and enzymes beneficial to the body are present and easily assimilated from raw honey. Processed honey/agave (product that has been heated over 119 degrees) has had these natural nutrients destroyed before they are packed in the jar.