Agave is a monocot plant that grows in the hot regions in Southern US, South America, and Latin America [R].
Agave is used in traditional medicine, but processing or refining it can ruin some, if not all, of its medicinal properties. Its sap, when boiled, can also produce a natural sweetener with a low glycemic index called miel de agave [R].
This sweetener is called agave syrup but is commonly and inaccurately known and sold as agave nectar [R].
The sap of the agave plant has a high content of sugar and soluble dietary fiber such as fructans. Fructans have been associated with metabolic and insulin-related benefits [R]. However, when agave sap is processed into the so-called agave syrup, exposure to heat and enzymes break down fructans into fructose [R] [R].
This process is similar to how high-fructose corn syrup and other harmful sweeteners are made. This takes away all the health benefits an agave plant has to offer.
Agave syrup has a low glycemic index, which means that it’s low in glucose and doesn’t cause a sudden and excessive spike in blood sugar levels. Although this may be perceived as beneficial for diabetic patients, its high fructose content can have detrimental effects to your health in the long run.
The liver is the sole organ in the body that can metabolize a significant amount of fructose [R]. A high fructose diet can negatively impact your metabolism and overload your liver [R]. The excess fructose is turned into fat and increases triglyceride levels in your blood. Research shows that this causes fat buildup in the liver or fatty liver disease [R] [R] [R].
Consuming excessive amounts of fructose can cause insulin resistance, thereby increasing blood sugar and insulin levels in the long run. This puts you at a high risk of developing type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Additionally, a high-fructose diet can increase the levels of bad cholesterol in the blood and cause fats to accumulate in the belly [R] [R] [R].
On average, agave nectar is a commercial sweetener with the highest fructose content at 85%, which is higher than plain sugar [R].
Whole fruits, on the other hand, are induced with fiber and contain only small amounts of fructose that the body can easily handle.
So, in conclusion, when looking for a healthy alternative to plain sugar, agave nectar might not be the best option in the market.
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