Agave: Hero or Villain
There has been a lot of negative press about Agave recently. A current article has stated that it is worse than high fructose corn syrup. Some agave is, but please note: Not all agave is processed the same. You can find healthy products.
I am a fan of agave. It is used it in a lot of my raw food dessert recipes. I use it because it only takes a small amount to get the results that I am looking for. The agave that I use has a much lower GI than other sweeteners, including dates. I use it because it doesn’t have a bad after taste. I use it because raw, properly produced agave is a good alternative to other sweeteners and also health benefits that other sweeteners can’t offer.
It is important to note that agave is a sweetener. It should be used in moderation, just like desserts should be eaten in moderation. But is it really the horrible villain that it is being made out to be? I would venture to say that it depends on the agave. Not all agave is created equal.
Because I do not want to write a novel, I am going to touch on a couple of points that were in the latest article stating that agave is worse than high fructose corn syrup. I suggest that you do your own research, check your resources and make sure you are buying a quality product. I would tell you that of every thing you buy.
I spend quite a bit of time yesterday, talking to Stephen Richards, the founder of BetterBody Foods and Nutrition. They are the producers of Xagave, a product that I am quite excited about. Stephen is a passionate man about health and nutrition. I asked him about the recent bad press that agave was getting.
According to Stephen, there are different ways to produce Agave. The unhealthy way basically harvests the agave root and boils it down until the only thing that is left is the nutrient void agave syrup. I believe this is the agave that deserves the bad press.
But there are other ways that agave is made. Xagave is made from both blue and white agave. They harvest the white nectar by collecting the sap or Aquamiel from the plant over a period of days after the flower has been cut off. “Aguamiel is not the sap of the leaves as some have noted (the sap from the Agave Salmiana leaves contain saponins, raphides and calcium oxalate rendering it inedible).” The Aquamiel is reduced to sap by a vacuum evaporation process that does not heat the agave above 105 degrees. The white agave is then mixed with blue agave which has had moisture removed through a distilling process that does not go over 113 degrees.
Xagave goes further by adding back in the inuline fiber. The result is an agave syrup that has a glycemic index of 30 (date paste has a GI over 103), and contains Inulin, (a prebiotic fiber, promotes the healthy function of your lower intestine that has also been shown to promote regularity, boost the immune system, increase calcium absorption and increase bone density.) The agave plants that they use come from free trade, organic plants (who’s controls meet the USDA requirements for organic). To read tons more about Xagave, including independent lab tests, click here: Xagave
Personally, I believe that you do need to be careful of the agave that you choose. Research the product that you are buying. Don’t just assume because it is agave, it is raw, organic or produced in a healthy way. But, please, let’s not throw out the baby with the bath water. In my book, a good, high quality agave, consumed responsibly, can allow us to enjoy a lot of the wonderful treats that we love.
I asked Stephen to respond to some of the points made in the Mercola article. Here is what he said: (his answers are in purple)
Ok. I wrote the novel. But please…do your own research and make your own decisions. I am not saying there isn’t bad agave out there, I am saying that not all agave is bad. Please note that I do not have any financial agreement with Xagave at the time of writing this post.