July 12, 2010
What About Agave?
Agave has about 60 calories per tablespoon, compared to 40 calories for the same amount of table sugar. But because agave is about 1 1/2 times sweeter than sugar, you can use less of it – which means you can achieve the same sweetness for about the same number of calories.
The bottom line is that refined agave sweeteners are not inherently healthier than sugar, honey, high-fructose corn syrup, or any other sweetener. Nutritionally and functionally, agave syrup is similar to high-fructose corn syrup and sucrose (Karo) syrup. It does contain small amounts of calcium, potassium, and magnesium, but not enough to matter nutritionally.
A study in the Journal of Clinical Investigation suggested that consuming fructose may be less healthy than consuming similar amounts of glucose. Study participants who consumed fructose were found to gain more unhealthy visceral fat, were more insulin-resistant, and were at greater risk of developing heart disease and diabetes.
One of the most celebrated properties of agave is its profile on the glycemic index, a scale that measures how much various foods raise blood sugar levels. Agave ranks lower than many other sweeteners on the glycemic index. As a result, some manufacturers tout it as a "diabetic friendly" sugar.
However, the American Diabetes Association lists agave along with other sweeteners (table sugar, honey, brown sugar, molasses, fructose, maple sugar, and confectioner’s sugar) that should be limited in diabetic diets.
Experts agree: The American diet contains way too much sugar, especially in the form of sweetened beverages.
One of the simplest ways to improve the healthfulness of your diet is to reduce the amount of all simple sugars -- agave, sucrose, honey, maple syrup, raw sugar, molasses, brown sugar, corn syrup, turbinado sugar, and more. When it comes to sweeteners, the choice is yours -- but keep in mind that all caloric sugars are virtually the same.
It's better to satisfy your sweet tooth with whole fruit than with any kind of concentrated sugar. Not only is it unprocessed, and fiber- and nutrient-rich, it has an even lower glycemic index than agave.
Posted by Lisa at July 12, 2010 9:23 AM
To send a trackback, use this url. If you know anything about this subject, please post a comment.