Your whole food, plant-based life.

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)

“In spite of manufacturer’s claims, agave “nectar” is not made from the sap of the yucca or agave plant but from the starch of its pineapple-like root bulb. The root is comprised mainly of starch, similar to corn, and a complex carbohydrate called inulin, which is made up of fructose molecules. The process by which agave starch and inulin are converted into “nectar” is VERY similar to the process by which cornstarch is converted into HFCS1.”
There is no starch in the agave plant.  The agave plant contains fructans which are broken down into sugars by simply applying low heat.  The process by which it is broken down is not even close.
“The agave starch is converted into fructose-rich syrup using genetically modified enzymes and a chemically intensive process involving caustic acids, clarifiers, and filtration chemicals.”
Xagave is USDA organic certified product and we have a GMO free certification.  Thus the statement that chemicals, genetically modified enzymes and caustic acids is incorrect — with respect to Xagave.  Again, I cannot speak for other brands
In addition the fructose content of Xagave is less than sugar (sucrose), about the same as honey and less than HFCS. In addition, Xagave has less total sugars than the above mentioned sweeteners.

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.

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