reviewed by Truman Perkins
Agave Nectar uses for centuries as a flavoring, though native populations have also been aware of its health benefits and used it medicinally. The Aztecs used a mixture of agave nectar and salt to dress for wounds and a balm for skin infections. And agave’s use as a folk remedy persists today. Read the article on the Health Benefits of Agave Nectar.
A modern medical study has confirmed agave’s remedial properties. Agave nectar applied to the skin has been effective against pyogenic (pus producing) bacteria such as Staph aureus. The tradition of adding salt to the nectar has been found to boost its anti-microbial property further. Agave nectar has a huge effect against enteric (intestinal) bacteria.
Especially in the last century, the western diet has become increasingly dominated by refined sweeteners such as granulated sugar and corn syrup. The problem with these substances is their high glycemic index and glycemic load – both measures of the relative impact that foods have on our blood sugar. Foods that raise blood sugar quickly trigger the release of the hormone insulin.
Excessive releases of insulin and, more specifically, chronically high blood sugar and insulin levels link to Metabolic Syndrome, a complex of health disorders. Associated ailments include insulin resistance and type II diabetes, abdominal weight gain and obesity, problems with blood lipids (raised triglycerides and cholesterol), and high blood pressure.
Unlike processed sugars, agave syrup has a low glycemic index. This means that it breaks down more slowly, producing a more gradual effect on blood sugar. This avoids the insulin rush caused by rapid increases in blood sugar levels. This is important to people with diabetes, who can use agave syrup to help manage their condition.
Even in non-diabetics, chronic high blood sugar and insulin levels correlate with Metabolic Syndrome, a disease linked with insulin resistance, type II diabetes, and abdominal weight gain. Agave, in common with ginseng, also contains saponins, compounds that have an anti-inflammatory effect. Saponins are also anti-microbial, and the Aztecs treated their wounds with a mixture of agave nectar and salt.
Another substance present in agave syrup is insulin. This type of fiber associate with increasing satiety (the feeling of fullness) and causing a decrease in appetite. This supports people who are trying to lose weight.
Today, the blue agave is perhaps most popular as an ingredient in baking goods—it is the star of the show in healthy sweetening alternatives. But why is it a good idea to use agave nectar as an alternative to sugar? Blue agave boasts of a considerably low glycemic index (gi), making it a favorable option for dealing with obesity, diabetes, thyroid disorder, and/or heart disease.
Blue agave is said to carry a gi of 11, clearly a long way down from the gi of regular agave, 39. The glycemic index refers to the ratio for measuring carbohydrates’ capacity to raise your blood sugar levels. If the gi is low, food could be digested properly, and all the nutrients absorbed slowly but surely. As a result, insulin production goes smoother, ensuring that your body receives all the energy the food you ate offers.
Its sweetness comes primarily from a complex form of fructose called inulin. Fructose is the sugar that occurs naturally in fruits and vegetables. The carbohydrate in agave nectar has a low glycemic index. That provides sweetness without the unpleasant “sugar rush” and unhealthful blood sugar spike caused by many other sugars.
Agave nectar is a delicious natural sweetener that can be used moderately -by dieters, diabetics, and health-conscious cooks – to replace high-glycemic and refined sugars.
About Truman Perkins
Truman Perkins is a Detroit-based SEO consultant who's been in the business for over a decade. He got his start helping friends and clients get their websites off the ground, and he continues to do so today. In his free time, Truman enjoys learning and writing about gardening - something he believes is a natural stress reliever. He lives with his wife, Jenny, and their twins in Detroit.