The smartest way to sweeten today is through agave nectar, also referred to as agave syrup. If you still use or consume loads of sugar regularly, you are likely not the healthiest individual. Likewise for those that use sugar alternatives or fake sweeteners, who are literally digging their own graves.
Agave nectar is a natural sweetener that is similar to honey and that is derived from the same plant used to make tequila. The nectar of the plant can be used to sweeten both drinks and food. The agave nectar that I use is a raw, healthy, organic and vegan alternative to sugar. In addition, the health benefits of agave nectar are numerous. Some benefits include weight loss, wound healing, cancer prevention, enhanced immune system, and the fact that it’s an all natural sweetener that has a low-glycemic index. Read further for more reasons to try agave within your diet.
What is Agave?
There are several hundreds of species of agave. Agave has been grown and harvested for centuries, by Native Americans at first, then Europeans, once agave plants were brought back by the Portugese and Spaniards near the 17th century.
Agave is related to the lily and yucca, which grows in the western and southern United States, and in tropical and central regions of South America. The plants have large thick leaves, each that typically end with a sharp point.
Agave Nectar as a Low-Glycemic Sweetener
What makes agave better or healthier than sugar? Sugar is a processed sweetener and has no nutritive value, with the exception of calories. Compared to other sweeteners, agave nectar has a beneficial low-glycemic index, meaning it won’t cause a sharp rise or fall in blood sugar when consumed.
Below is a list of sweeteners and their glycemic values. The higher the glycemic value, the bigger impact the sweetener has on your blood sugar.
Raw Organic Agave Nectar – 27
Fructose (sugar from fruit) – 32
Lactose (sugar from milk) – 65
Honey – 83
High fructose corn syrup – 89
Sucrose (sugar) – 92
Glucose – 137
Glucose tablets – 146
Maltodextrin – 150
Maltose – 150
If by chance you are diabetic, and/or tend to monitor your exchanges with food, one-teaspoon of agave nectar is a “free food.” Two teaspoons is 1/2 carbohydrate exchange.
Replace Sugars and Other Sweeteners With Agave Nectar
Replace sugar in your diet, and take advantage of agave’s low glycemic impact. Like other natural sweeteners, you can substitute agave nectar for sugar in basically any recipe by using 1/3 cup of agave nectar in recipes for ever cup of sugar required. Also remember to reduce liquid ingredients within the recipe by about a third, since agave nectar is a liquid and sugar is dry. It is also recommended to reduce oven temperatures by approximately 25 degrees.
Health Benefits of Agave Nectar
Promotes Weight Loss/Weight Management – Agave nectar lowers your overall calorie intake in two different ways. First, it is slightly sweeter than sugar, so you consume less calories from using less. Secondly, agave nectar is a low GI food with inulin (fiber), which leaves you feeling more satisfied and moderates blood sugar levels. Simply put, are more satisfied from consuming less.
Improves Energy Levels – Unlike high fructose corn syrup and sugar, agave nectar will not cause a “spike” in your blood sugar levels. Agave nectar contains fructose, sucrose, and inulin in levels that manage and moderate consistent blood sugar levels. Eating small regular meals of foods that are low GI can provide consistent energy levels all day long without you feeling hungry or tired.
Enhances Immune System – Much of our immune systems are located in the digestive tract, meaning that a healthy gut converts to a healthy you. The naturally-occurring inulin found in agave improves your digestive health because it stimulates growth and activity of the good bacteria, while preventing the growth of bad bacteria in your intestinal tract. Daily consumption of inulin may reduce the frequency of diarrhea, fever, and other ailments/illnesses.
Improves Bone Density – Inulin enhances the absorption of calcium by as much as 20%, while increasing bone density by as much as 15%. This is of beneficial importance to women as they age. Inulin, similar to calcium, is a substance that is known to increase overall bone density.
Improves Motility – The inulin that is found in agave nectar improves the endocrine process. Inulin (fiber) helps to emit waste quickly, flushing it from the body leaving you feeling healthier and emitting toxins.
Reduced Risk of Type II Diabetes and Heart Disease – Diets rich in fiber and low GI diets appear to reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease, and Type II Diabetes. Type II Diabetes was once referred to as “adult-onset diabetes.” Unfortunately today, there is a high incidence in children. In fact, 1 in 3 children born today will become diabetic. This epidemic mostly due to the growing rate of obesity. An estimated 67% of Americans are overweight and at for the three major chronic diseases that plague our society today (i.e. diabetes, cancer, and heart disease). By simply avoiding sugar, we can dramatically improve our weight and overall health. Agave nectar makes eating healthy delicious and simple.
Reduced Risk of Cancer – Studies of animals have demonstrated that the regular consumption of inulin has reduced the growth and size of cancer-causing lesions within the lower intestine.
Where Can You Buy Agave Nectar?
Agave nectar is sold in health food stores and online stores. I prefer to order mine online, as the closest health food store is about an hour away. Make sure you buy/order organic!
Most of the products I order for myself are from Sunfood.com, which specializes in raw organic superfoods. I always feel safe ordering through them, and know I am getting the highest quality products at all times. They also do free shipping when you order more than $49, which I typically do.
Sunfood agave nectar runs about $12.95 for a 16 oz bottle, which is a good price considering that it is non-gmo, raw and certified organic, and the size of the bottle. Although buying in bulk is obviously cheaper in the long run, I find the 16 oz. bottles tend to last quite a while. I use mine on a daily basis for coffee, herbal teas, and even kombucha. Regardless of where you decide to buy it from, your best and safest bet will always be to opt for raw and certified organic varieties.
If you’re looking for a new and healthy way to satisfy a sweet tooth, try agave nectar. You’ll be happy you did.
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