Claudette's Specialties: Female and Male Hormonal Imbalances, PMS, Period Pain, Fibroids, Polycystic Ovaries/Syndrome, Endometriosis, Menopause, Prostate Problems, Low Libido, Natural Fertility Management: Contraception, Overcoming Infertility Problems (females and males), Preconception Care, Sex Selection, IVF support, Pregnancy Care: Pregnancy nutrition and remedies, Miscarriage support, Birth preparation, Doula: Childbirth support, Post-natal care for mother and child.

What about the Natural Sweetener Agave?

Many people interested in staying healthy have switched to Agave as a safer "natural" sweetener. They want to avoid well documented high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) but are unaware that Agave is neither healthy nor natural. I actually wrote a blog on Agave back in 2010 and unfortunately these arguments still hold true. 

Where does Agave come from? Blue agave is an exotic plant growing in the rich volcanic soil of Mexico. Traditionally the nectar is made from the sap of the yucca or agave plant, producing a rich sweet natural syrup.

However, nowadays agave syrup is manufactured by converting the starch into a fructose-rich syrup using genetically-modified enzymes and a chemically intensive process involving caustic acids, clarifiers and filtration chemicals. There are very few quality controls in products coming from Mexico so residues of these solvents and chemicals often remain in the syrup upon testing.

Agave is touted as a healthy sweetener since it is low glycaemic, compared to table sugar. However, it is not low calorie, containing about 16 calories per teaspoon, about the same as  sucrose (table sugar) and it is composed of up to 92% fructose, making it sweeter than sugar.  Yes fructose is low glyceamic but excessive consumption of fructose also leads to blood sugar irregularities, high insulin levels and insulin resistance which is a precursor to diabetes, high triglycerides (bad blood fats), metabolic syndrome, uric acid formation and gout

There are also concerns that some distributors are cutting agave syrup with corn syrup and have unacceptably high pesticide residues, such as Hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) which has potential toxic, mutagenic and carcinogenic effects.

Agave is nutrient void and is certainly not a whole food as some marketing I've read has claimed! Agave is a highly concentrated sweetener and is highly addictive. I do not recommend it to any of my clients and switch them off it immediately if they mention it. 

Stick to natural whole foods - if it comes in a bottle or packet, keep it to a minimum and remember the 90/10 rule - 90% for the body and 10% for the soul. Once you no longer need a dose of sugar everyday, you'll be able to see the real sweetness in your own life around you!

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