The Not So Pretty Truth About Agave Syrup
For years I’ve been speaking and writing about the problem of excess sugar in the diet. I’ve also been alerting people to the so-called ‘healthy sugars’ out there and one of them is Agave Syrup or Nectar.
Agave is a plant with a beautiful Greek name meaning ‘Noble’ (turns out the human tinkering version isn’t so noble) that is used to create a man-made laboratory fructose syrup. Agave is high in a sugar that is rarely brought up regarding its unhealthful effects and that is Fructose. In fact, agave is higher in fructose than the well-known toxic High Fructose Corn Syrup! Yes, fructose is sugar and its toxic health effects are very real.
Who would have thought the innocent ‘nectar of Agave’ was harmful to our health? Even the word nectar is crafted beautifully. It is far from a real, natural nectar and in fact..agave is highly refined fructose.
“If your goal is to lose weight, the last thing you want to do is tax your liver, as your liver is your #1 fat-burning organ”
You may say “But it’s Fructose Lori, it has to be healthy!” Not so fast… All sugars (including honey and fruit juice) are inflammatory because sugar is sugar no matter the form, in the way it metabolizes. The typical diet is high in excess sugar. Consider this statistic from the USDA: ‘The average American ingests 156 lbs of added sugar a year.” That is staggering. However, fructose itself lives a different life compared to other types of sugar in the way the body processes it.
We used to think that because Agave didn’t spike blood sugar like regular sugar, that it was okay for those with diabetes. Foods with a higher glycemic index (GI) tend to create higher blood sugar and trigger insulin – the hormone that helps the sugar get into cells. We now know that excess fructose is converted into fat – especially around the belly and can encourage insulin resistance and it doesn’t end there…
Fructose, unlike glucose, can only be broken down in the liver…and you know what happens next? This can trigger low-level inflammation not just in the liver but in your fat cells and other areas in the body. If your goal is to lose weight, the last thing you want to do is tax your liver as your liver is your #1 fat-burning organ. You want to keep your liver healthy and inflammation-free for optimal health and effective weight loss.
Your liver breaks down agave like alcohol leading to a fatty liver even the ‘beer belly’ What about fruit? Whole fruit can be a healthy addition to your diet as it is high in nutrients and fiber. However, there are some fruits such as grapes or mangoes that pack a wallop in terms of spiking blood sugar, But when the fruit is concentrated and processed, that is where double trouble begins. Agave can contain anywhere from 70% – 99% fructose compared to high fructose corn syrup which is 55% fructose – vast difference (yet still bad).
Excess fructose is linked to:
- Weight gain and obesity (that can lead metabolic health issues)
- Disrupts hunger and satiety hormones that trigger hunger and overeating
- Insulin Resistance (that can lead to diabetes)
- High Triglycerides (that can lead to heart disease)
- Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
High fructose corn syrup, white table sugar, evaporated cane juice, honey, agave and many other sweeteners including artificial sweeteners, should be avoided to prevent the health issues that come with the sweetener. Instead, opt for sugar replacements that are inherently healthy such as: erythritol, xylitol, monk fruit, and stevia (extract powder).
Don’t fall for the “Agave is a healthy sugar alternative” marketing hype – it isn’t.
© 2014 DLS HealthWorks, LLC.
Lori Shemek, PhD, CNC, Health and Weight Loss expert is the best-selling author of ‘Fire-Up Your Fat Burn!