The Bad Rep: Agave Nectar – is it as bad as everyone says?

By Bryan Stralow

1/28/17

The Agave has been harvested for a millennia and used in various sweetening syrups. As it is plant-based, the Agave nectar or syrup is digested by vegans as opposed to honey and sugar. Traditionally, and predominately, Agave has been used as sweeteners by native American Indians, and more recently, used in the fermentation process of making Tequila; Mexico’s No.1 export.

In researching the agave, it would seem that the jury is still out on whether in fact the attached article by the “authoritynutrition.com” website is too strong perhaps; especially with the title page being labelled- ‘Agave- Even worse than Sugar’.

The journalistic tendencies that the author used in writing the attached article, seem to portray ‘white sugar’, which is chemically altered and incredibly refined beyond any point of recognizing it’s original state (Cane Sugar), as better for you than Agave syrup or “nectar”, as the dietitian goes on to explain.

Let’s break it down into some “known facts”.

Diabetes, amongst many contributing factors, is known to be majorly caused by refined sugars. The Aboriginals in Australia face, and have faced, serious effects from the settlement and colonisation by the British due to the introduction of small pox, typhoid and, wait for it, diabetes; due to the introduction of refined sugar- not Agave syrup.

The ‘Originals’ physiology, having been refined over tens of thousands of years, is less able to digest and metabolize sugar which causes huge issues with Diabetes in theirs’, and the broader ‘global’ community; even still today. They survived on natural ‘simple sugars’ that are found in organic produce- there really was no need for sweeteners. Trees like the Bottle-brush (Grevillea), native to Australia, provided ample sweeteners provided by sucking on their flowers or through immersion into water.

The Authority Nutrition’s author goes on to state that agave syrup, categorized in the article as an equivalent to corn syrup or molasses, can contribute to ‘insulin resistance’ when used in larger doses.

The author does state that agave syrup sold today is refined past any point of nutritional value and that it is not the glucose index (GI) that is the problem with Agave, but that it is the excessive amount of fructose in Agave syrup which can  cause damage.

Perhaps the true statement of this article should be to inform users that anything in excess is bad, refined sugars can hurt you and that studies on the Agave are inconclusive. Also, subjectively, you would also assume that “not all Agave syrups are made equal”, as some ‘less refined’ and more ‘pure’ Agave syrups’ do exist…

‘Eating large amounts of fructose can also have various other harmful effects… such as increasing small, dense LDL particles and oxidized LDL (very bad), cause belly fat accumulation, to name a few (17).’

Anytime anyone uses acronyms without explaining the meanings sets off alarm bells. Click on the ’17’ reference link which will take you to another abstract about the studies on  fructose from 2002; perhaps a more recent study should be referenced as I am sure that the science has progressed more on this subject. Also, there is no reference to Agave in this study. 

My verdict: the jury is still out, more testing and firm assessment needs to be made and that anything ‘refined’ or chemically-altered is just not as good for your body as anything ‘unrefined’ or ‘organic’.

Source: Agave Nectar: A Sweetener That is Even Worse Than Sugar

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