Agave nectar is a sweetener that can be used as a substitute for sugar. It is mainly found in the health food sections of grocery stores, or in health food stores. But don’t let this fool you into thinking that it is natural, or that you can consume as much of this sweetener as you like. Regardless of its claims, agave nectar is not a natural sweetener; it is processed either by heat, or by the adding other enzymes.
It is important for you to read the label, and buy only raw agave nectar if possible. The raw nectar is heated at temperatures below 118 degrees, which means all the natural enzymes are left intact, and no additives or other enzymes are added. But even the raw agave has its pros and cons, and in some cases you may want to stick with sugar.
The Pros of Agave Nectar
In general, agave nectar is better than sugar, and by using it as a substitution for sugar you will reduce your calorie intake. When comparing the calories between the two, you will find that they both contain the same amount per teaspoon. But because agave is 1.5 times sweeter than sugar; you will not need as much, thereby you can reduce your calories.
Start by adding it to your morning coffee, tea, cereals, deserts and even in baked goods. When using it in your baking you will have to experiment as to how much you put in. Start by substituting between 1/2 to 2/3 cups of nectar for 1 cup of sugar. You will also need to reduce other liquids, such as oils and water, by about 1/4 cup for every cup of agave nectar.
If you are diabetic you will definitely want to switch to agave because it has such a low glycemic index. This is due to the high levels of fructose which are not as easily absorbed into the bloodstream. Sugar, on the other hand, is low in fructose, and high in glucose. It is easily absorbed into the bloodstream, which gives you a rush of energy. As this energy begins to wear off you find yourself craving more, but fructose will help to balance your energy levels, as well as your appetite.
Unlike sugar, which has no nutritional value, agave contains small amounts of calcium, iron, potassium and magnesium. It helps to fight colon cancer, and improves the functioning of the gallbladder by breaking down fats.
The Cons of Agave Nectar
If you are pregnant you should consume agave with caution, as some species of agave contain anordin and dinordin steroids, which can lead to a miscarriage.
Even though agave does not spike blood sugar levels, it does make its way into the bloodstream as triglycerides. These can cause the arteries to harden, and eventually may cause heart attacks and strokes. So if you have any kind of heart problems you may want to stick with sugar.
Just like sugar, agave nectar is an addictive sweetener, and you should always consume it in moderation.