6 Reasons to Avoid Agave Syrup

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6 Reasons to Avoid Agave Syrup  (Why Agave is NOT a Health Food) - DontMesswithMama.com

Look down the aisles of health food stores (or even the health food aisle in a grocery store) and chances are you’ll see a bottle of agave syrup. Similar in color and consistency to maple syrup, it’s been touted as a healthy alternative to artificial sweeteners and has become the go-to natural sweetener of choice for many people.


So what’s the deal with agave syrup? Why should you avoid agave syrup? I’ll explain below.

6 Reasons to Avoid Agave Syrup

1. Agave is NOT a health food. 

Agave has gotten a lot of attention as a low-glycemic sweetener many people think that’s a good thing. The truth is that agave syrup is made mostly of fructose, which causes insulin resistance (it doesn’t raise blood sugar) and increases the risk for metabolic syndrome, triglycerides, liver damage, mood instability and other health problems.1, 2


2. Agave syrup is mostly fructose. 

What’s the big deal with fructose? Not all simple sugars are the same.

Glucose is the main source of energy for your body. The hormone insulin helps cells to pull in glucose from the bloodstream to use as fuel. And nearly all foods with carbohydrates contain glucose – from fruits to vegetables to grains.

Fructose is the primary sugar in most fruit. The body breaks down fructose differently from glucose. It breaks down in the liver and converted in fats . Glucose is turned into a fuel source right after eating so not much of it ends up in the liver to break down.

While fruits and vegetables contain fructose, they also have fiber, enzymes, vitamins and minerals. Agave syrup, on the other hand, contains mostly fructose with no other nutritional content and it’s a highly processed sweetener (keep reading to learn more about this).

3. Agave syrup has MORE fructose than high fructose corn syrup.

Here’s a breakdown of the amount of glucose and fructose in common sweeteners:3

  • Typical cane sugar is 50% glucose, 50% frucotse
  • High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is 45% glucose, 50% fructose
  • Agave syrup is 30% glucose, 70% fructose

Keep reading to find out why you should avoid agave syrup.

4. Agave syrup can make you fat. 

When fructose is broken down in the liver, it turns into fats. This excess fat can lead to weight gain and tummy fat (the body breaks down fructose like alcohol and stores it in the belly). In addition, fructose impairs your body’s normal appetite-control system and metabolism – leading to weight gain.2

5. Agave syrup can lead to other health issues.

In addition to weight gain, the fructose in agave syrup can lead to other health issues, such as high bad cholesterol, raised blood sugar, increased blood levels of uric acid (leading to gout and increased blood pressure), insulin resistance (leading to obesity and type II diabetes).3

6. Agave syrup is a high-refined, chemically-produced sweetener.

Marketing ads and health claims position agave syrup as natural, it’s actually far from true.

Agave syrup is derived from a natural source – the agave plant – but that’s like saying high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is natural since it’s derived from corn. The process to produce agave syrup is actually similar to HFCS. Agave is derived from the starch root of the agave plant, called the piña – not the sweetened nectar from the flowers (which is misleading considering most consumers refer to the sweetener as “agave syrup” or “agave nectar”). The root is ground up and squeezed to extract the juice, which is then heated with genetically modified (GMO) enzymes and toxic chemicals such as sulfuric acid and hydrofluroic acid to make it concentrated like the agave syrup we see on grocery store shelves.3

Real Natural Sweeteners

So what are the real natural sweeteners that are safe to consume? Keep it simple. Stick with raw, organic honey (preferably from a local farm or get an authentic raw honey – find it HERE) or 100% pure maple syrup either grade A or grade B (find it HERE).

I typically use both raw honey and organic maple syrup for baking, cooking and even sweetening up my hot tea or hot chocolate.

There are other natural sweetener options, such as unrefined organic coconut sugar (find it HERE) and Stevia. I personally don’t use these often because while these are naturally sourced there is some processing involved to produce them. I prefer raw honey and organic maple syrup as they are minimally processed.

What’s your favorite natural sweetener?

6 Reasons to Avoid Agave Syrup  (Why Agave is NOT a Health Food) - DontMesswithMama.com

Sources:
1. http://www.today.com/health/avoid-these-10-bad-mood-foods-1C7145342 2. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/03/30/beware-of-the-agave-nectar-health-food.aspx
3. http://www.myhealthwire.com/news/food/660

Photo credit: DepositPhotos.com / hjapix




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DISCLAIMER: The content on the blog Don’t Mess with Mama is for educational and informational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice. I am not a medical professional and the information contained on this blog should not be used to diagnose, treat or prevent any disease or health illness. Please consult with a qualified health care professional before acting on any information presented here. Any statements or claims about the possible health benefits conferred by any foods or supplements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
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About Tracey Black

Hi, I’m Tracey. Welcome to Don’t Mess with Mama. Join me to stand up against junk food, processed food, and anything artificial. I’ll show you how to cook wholesome, gluten free (and grain free) meals with real food ingredients to nourish your family. Plus, learn how to get the toxins and chemicals out of your home for good with my favorite DIY and homemade recipes for beauty, personal care and cleaning products.

Comments

  1. I was only recently made aware of the dangers of agave. When maple syrup became really expensive, my family switched to agave because it was low-glycemic (my brother has type 1 diabetes) and cheaper than syrup. However, I’ve stopped using agave and usually use raw, local honey, coconut palm sugar, stevia, and maple syrup sometimes. Recently I’ve even cut back on my consumption of those things. I’ve finally cut out my strong sweet tooth! :)

  2. I. HAD. NO. IDEA. I am a Paleo momma of 3 and strict strict strict on the sugars- especially. Myself, however, has a really tough time ditching the sweet in my coffee. About 6 weeks ago, I was shopping in the US and came across a great bargin on Agave syrup; I thought, wow! Perfect for my coffee!! In the past 4 weeks- I’ve noticed that my moods are ridiculously out of swing, I’m gaining tummy fat and my immune system is WAY off balance!! I’ve been sick for the last 4 weeks- straight. Which is crazy unusual for me. Pair all that with the fact I’m eating more RAW food and BETTER food than I ever have- and still all this weirdness. It has to be the Agave, because the dietary changes have all been super positive (even cutting my glasses of wine to one night a week only). As soon as I post this comment, I’m throwing the remaining bottle away and the one in the pantry. I can’t thank you enough and I am SO glad I read this.

    • So glad this helped you! I think we’ve all been tricked into thinking agave is healthy when it’s far from the truth. I stick to natural sweeteners like honey and maple syrup. Good luck. Let me know how things go as you remove agave from your diet.

  3. What are your thoughts on brown rice syrup? I’m a triathlete so like to make my own energy and protein bars for training. Thanks.

  4. Shelly Mueller says:

    Rats! I had heard this about agave syrup before but didn’t want to believe it. I drink vanilla lattes and hoped that by switching out the vanilla syrup with agave was a good thing. I can’t imagine honey would taste good. By any chance, do you know of any healthy vanilla’ish substitutions? :-) Thank you!

    • Sarah Payne says:

      On the idea of finding a good tasting honey, try some local bee keepers. Here, we have a great bee keeper who has MANY differently sourced honey. We like the wildflower, but not so much the orange blossom. I like the buckwheat, but the kids don’t as much. He is very accommodating. He let me try different kinds to see what we liked. If you find a honey you like, you can mix some scraped vanilla bean in it to make a yummy vanilla flavoring.

    • You can get vanilla stevia packets at whole foods! I use in my smoothies! Smells like vanilla pudding!!

  5. Thankyou for this info, I did not know this! I bought a double bottle special at Costco, Brand “Absolute Organic” Agave Syrup, because it is labelled as 100% raw and pure, and Australian Certified Organic. Would the organic certification make a difference? (It’s product of Mexico)

    • No, it’s still a refined sugar – and the manufacturing doesn’t take away the fact that it’s made mostly of fructose, which causes all sorts of health issues. Costco has a fantastic return policy I think.

  6. May I ask, what about yaconsyrup? It’s also a rooth….

  7. While I completely agree with some of this I also think not all brands are created equal . One could argue about even honey and maple syrup and whether they are healthy ie. many bee keepers claim to have raw honey and yet heat it well beyond 118 degrees and in some instances continue to make it a non food by pasteurizing the crap out of it. :-( maple syrup is typically boiled down in large vats that are steel or aluminum for exceptionally long periods of time – leach heavy metals much? for me it’s about choosing lesser of the evils. When I see and hear the crap mainstream kids are consuming I shake my head :-( after living a very strict diet for 8 yrs (I’ve lightened up a lot lmao) with my kids (no pop chips junk chocolate candy etc ever – we do use coconut sugar, Maple syrup, honey or agave in moderation) I decided if my kids are sitting down to a raw sprouted granola breakfast or even cooked whole oats with unsweetened homemade almond milk- if they would like a tsp or tablespoon of agave they are most welcome too lol I think when people buy packaged anything they aren’t reading labels and they aren’t really aware of what goes it it – healthy or otherwise. Sure – be aware of the information but use it and experiment with it and how does it make your body feel? IMO for the majority of the population they do not have a strict diet ie. they give their kids chocolate and candy at Halloween, valentines, Easter, teachers and parents reward with candy, after school programs now routinely hand out candy at the end if class, and the list goes on so how can a bit of agave be worse ? Lol some good quality agave in moderation beats lots of other so called healthy and not so healthy treats. I am THAT mom lol I say NOOOO. to Halloween -Easter and valentines candy, my kids are the only kids who don’t get candy after karate or dance or in line at the grocery store… no pop, no sugar, no donuts , no processed juice , no chips, (on occasion I have now said yes to bday cake at a party) …. we make most meals from scratch , we juice, we make kale chips etc and we grow wheatgrass and sprouts etc blah blah anyhow my point is sometimes despite all of this we eat out on occasion and eat junky burgers and fries like normal folks ….and at the end of the day After researching and experimenting with THIS brand of agave even though I’m tHAT mom – I DO support using it in moderation :-) I know right? Haha Interestingly it does not give me a headache or make my kids crazy (honey and maple syrup do as does the wholesome brand of agave at the grocery store) and despite using it for years and years My 12 and 5 yr old boys have no cavities and my 9 yr old dd has a couole caused by a year of bad choices with rice cakes and crackers :-( soooo at the end of the day before we abandon anything – in this case agave, yes we need to be aware of the implications but also research it, read both sides, read your labels (find out who truly manufacturers it !!! Many large corporations are taking over small healthier companies including the agave companies
    ) . Also assess your diet and most importantly how you or your children handle consuming it and then Decide. :-) just my 2 cents painstaking typed on my little phone haha sorry for typos ! Ps I gain nothing from recommending either company – but I have ordered from the family for some many many years and love their information :-) http://realrawfood.com/category/library/agave

    • Thanks for your comment. The article was meant to inform readers to make their own informed decision. I agree that some honey and maple syrup is heavily processed too. In fact, some honey isn’t honey at all. I think the best thing is to know the source and research. I buy my honey from a local farm typically or buy raw honey online from reputable sources. I would just caution with agave (like anything) to just monitor if you notice any health issues. Love your site, by the way!

  8. Thanks for this great information. I used agave for a few months before realizing it really wasn’t a health food at all. I use stevia primarily because I have some blood sugar issues. I’m so glad there are natural healthy sweeteners out there.

  9. Excellent post. Excellent information. This is why I only bought agave syrup once. after purchasing I started looking into it. I wouldn’t call stevia natural fro the same reasons – it is derived from a natural source, but is highly processed to extract the fractions that are considered safe. I whole heartledly agree with your two favourite go to sweeteners – honey and maple syrup. The less processed the better

  10. What are your thoughts on black strap molasses ?

  11. i’m going to be growing and drying my own stevia…

  12. Is agave syrup and agave nectar the same thing?

    • My understanding is that they are basically the same thing. There aren’t strong regulations on the difference between the two so agave manufacturers use the term “agave nectar” because it sounds more natural when it’s really the same as plain agave syrup.

  13. Just read your post. Found it very informative. I just wondered….is raw honey less in calories than other honey? Honey has sooo many calories I worry about using it in things too much. I have grown up on raw honey….my DAd was a bee keeper and we still have a endless supply. It is fabulous! But I am very very carb sensitive (I have polycystic ovarian syndrome) so I am always looking for a way to “sweeten” without the calories. I would love to hear your thoughts. Thank you!

  14. My mother is diabetic and she read a study about agave and diabetics. Basically they had to stop the study because, when given agave, the diabetics were passing out! I also do not like stevia. Both agave and stevia are really not natural when it wastes so much energy in the processing. I was glad to see someone blog about these dangers. Thank you

    • Thanks for your comment. Great to hear such wonderful feedback. I’m so glad your mom got the right information before she went down the road of agave.

  15. Meghan Zeile says:

    Thanks so much for the info!

    • Great advice. I have only used Agave in my 1 cup of coffee in the morning for at least a couple years. I wonder if a teaspoon a day WAS bad? I am now switching to maple syrup or honey :).

      Kiki

  16. Geneviere Freedman says:

    I think raw honey is the best sweetener there is. Unfortunately, for people who are used to refined sugar etc., it can be such a dud to be offered unrefined coconut sugar instead.

  17. Kim Ranson says:

    Not dumping my Agave syrup. I use maple syrup, coconut sugar and honey as well as sweetners. Overconsuming anything is bad for you Moderation is the key. Will use it sparingly, as I always do. until the bottles are gone. No need to panic

  18. preparat says:

    Snog Frozen Yogurt is using agave as a sweetener in their products, I was right about not believing in it’s miraculous goodness…
    It’s just another marketing scam!!!

  19. What are your thoughts on xylitol?

    • I avoid it because I find it to be too processed for my taste. I prefer natural sweeteners with minimal processing such as raw, local honey and organic maple syrup.

Trackbacks

  1. […] An alternative sweetener often touted in health circles that’s probably worse than High Fructose Corn Syrup: 6 Reasons to Avoid Agave Syrup […]

  2. […] Read more here: 6 Reasons to Avoid Agave Syrup – Don’t Mess with Mama. […]

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