The Dishonest Sweetener

Over the past few years, it has gradually stepped into “the limelight” and is especially popular amongst vegans and diabetics. It is sold at almost every health food store and carried by some conventional grocers. This alternative sweetener marketed as raw, natural, and diabetic friendly possesses none of those attributes and is more detrimental to your health than high fructose corn syrup.

What is this dishonest sweetener? Agave Nectar!

But agave nectar is just cactus juice, right? WRONG! Agave sap, used for thousands of years and known in Mexico as miel de agave, is the juice like substance that comes from the leaves of the agave plant. It is boiled for several hours and used as a sweetener. Agave nectar, invented in the 1990s, is made from the plant’s starchy root bulb. The process by which the agave bulb is turned into agave nectar is almost identical to the process by which corn is transformed into high fructose corn syrup. This high heat, enzymatic, and chemical process produces a starchy, nutrient void, high fructose syrup. Agave nectar is 75-90% fructose. High fructose corn syrup is only 55% fructose! Astonishing, isn’t it?

So, what’s wrong with fructose? Fructose is digested in the liver, not the intestine, and thus greatly increases one’s risk of severe liver damage and raises uric acid levels. Excessive fructose consumption is also a leading cause of obesity. Fructose turns directly into triglycerides in the body. Simply put: it turns into bad fat which makes you fat. Fructose inhibits leptin, the hormone that makes you feel full or satiated. Inhibited leptin causes insulin resistance (there goes the diabetic friendly argument). A constant case of “the munchies” is a common result of consuming fructose.

But isn’t fructose in fruit? Yes, but no…Fructose naturally appears in fruit, but in a non-concentrated form. It is accompanied by fiber, vitamins, and nutrients, and is often called laevulose. The fructose that occurs in high fructose corn syrup and agave is highly refined and nutrient void.

Agave syrup is not natural, raw or diabetic friendly. It is repeatedly heated and treated heavily with enzymes and chemicals. Its extremely high fructose content comes with a long list of severe symptoms and consequences. “Just Say NO” to this dishonest sweetener.

Well what sweeteners SHOULD I use? Good question. If you’re staying away from white sugar and artificial sweeteners, it can be difficult to find a healthy, completely natural alternative that tastes good. My sweeteners of choice are pure maple syrup, raw honey, coconut sugar and pure stevia. Stevia has no glycemic index. Honey, maple syrup, and coconut sugar have a low to moderate glycemic index depending on the variety, with coconut sugar possessing the lowest average index. While honey, technically being the liquid created by industrious bees who have collected pollen and flower nectar, is not eaten by strict vegans, maple syrup, coconut sugar, and stevia are completely free of animal products. Stevia is naturally extracted from the stevia leaf, pure maple syrup is the sap of the maple tree, and coconut sugar is the product of tapping the coconut palm tree for its sap and evaporating the liquid at a low temperature. I recommend replacing unnatural, processed sweeteners with these great sweeteners that are both delicious and nutritious.

References:
Dr. Joseph Mercola “This Sweetener is Far Worse than High Fructose Corn Syrup”
Dr. Andrew Weill “What’s Wrong with Agave Nectar.”
Real Food Forager “Why I NEVER use Agave”
Food Renegade “Agave Nectar: Good or Bad?”

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