If you’re in the market for a natural substitute for sugar you may have probably heard of agave nectar. There are many choices of natural sweeteners but today I would like to talk about one of the most popular ones which is raw agave nectar.
Just like its name suggests, it is derived from the agave desert plant. Because of its natural origins, it’s easy to assume that it’s a healthy substitute to refined sugar. Although this is a sound assumption, it’s not as clear cut as that. Being natural, doesn’t automatically means completely healthy.
So, let’s take a look both at the pros and cons of using agave nectar as a refined sugar alternative. If that helps you become a smarter shopper my job on this subject is done.
Pro: It won’t spike your blood sugar
The kind of sugar found in agave nectar is immediately processed in the liver, therefore will not cause havoc to your blood sugar. Therefore, if you are diabetic, agave is a better option for you. Similarly, because it doesn’t lead to a blood sugar spike, there’s no crush that usually follows a sugar high.
Con: But it may still cause insulin resistance
Although it’s completely natural it actually contains more sugar than other natural sweeteners. Therefore, consuming excessive amounts over an extended period of time, may cause insulin resistance (a condition where our cells are less responsive to the hormone insulin hence making it less efficient). Insulin resistance is considered a risk factor for type 2 diabetes and sometime it is referred to as pre-diabetes.
Pro: It’s ok for vegans
If you need an alternative to honey agave can fill up the void. Other plant based alternatives are stevia, maple syrup and barley malt syrup.
Con: But it’s still full of calories
Even though it doesn’t trigger a surge in blood sugar, it doesn’t mean that you can have as much as you want of it. If looking after your weight is a priority, use agave in moderation. In this respect, it’s no different from other natural sweeteners.
Pro: You only require a little bit of it
As it is one of the sweetest natural alternatives to refined sugar you don’t need to have a lot of it for your food to taste sweet. Which is also more economic. In other words, you need less of it to get the same level of sweetness.
Con: There’s not a lot of nutritional value in agave
As opposed to honey, which has an impressive nutritional profile, agave does not boast the same nutritional properties. It might be sweeter than honey, but it has less nutritional value.