8 Reasons to Never Eat Agave

by Sarah Healthy LivingComments: 15

agaveAs a Health Coach, I advise people that just because something is on the shelf at the healthfood store does not, in fact, make it healthy. Agave is a perfect case in point. Let’s recall other health industry scams to clue you in as to why agave nectar, whether light, amber, or blue is yet another example of the wool getting pulled over consumer eyes.

Recall the major scam about soy and how it was promoted (and still is) as healthy back in the early 90’s. Consumption of soy is linked to all manner of ill health, in particular, hypothyroidism. Menopausal women who buy into the ploy of soy typically end up overweight, losing their hair, and depressed (are you listening, Oprah?). The effects on younger folks are no better, and for those unfortunate infants who were fed soy infant formula – well, they have a lifetime of hormonal issues to deal with once puberty hits (if it hits at all for the boys). Israel and New Zealand have banned the use of soy infant formula, by the way. Still think it’s the best thing for your baby? Oh and please don’t put edamame in your child’s lunch thinking its a healthy and green snack!

Another healthfood scam that is only now coming unwound is canola oil. Proponents of canola oil generally have no idea that the name itself is short for “Canadian Oil” after the country where it was developed. It is a genetically modified version of rapeseed oil. It is about as far from healthy as you can get where vegetable oil is concerned. Rapeseed oil, from which canola is made, is poisonous and serves as a very effective insect repellent.

Truth be told, canola oil is nothing more than an industrialized edible oil. It is produced by very violent and toxic methods. It cannot be classified as a traditional oil in any way, although clever and misleading marketing puts it in the class of olive oil. Canola oil is not healthy and should be avoided in all products and in all circumstances.

Agave Scam

Another shocking healthfood scam is agave nectar. The alarming obesity epidemic in this country and the millions of prediabetic people have caused the term “low glycemic” to suddenly become a very appealing and marketable term. When a food is “low glycemic”, this means that it does not spike the blood sugar as rapidly as a food that has a higher glycemic index.

Agave Nectar is Not a Healthy Sweetener

As a result, folks with blood sugar issues (about 80% of people over 25) who are avoiding sugar have been scammed into thinking agave is a healthy sweetener for them. While it is true that agave is low in sugar, agave is very very high in fructose. The concentration of fructose in agave is actually higher than in high fructose corn syrup (HFCS)! And, though it is true that agave won’t spike your blood sugar like white sugar will, this fact does not make it healthy. Using a concentrated fructose product like agave may spare your pancreas, but it does a number on your liver. Metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance, fatty liver, very dangerous belly fat can be worsened or even caused by excessive consumption of fructose which agave nectar has in spades.

Need a truly healthy low glycemic sweetener? Unprocessed stevia leaf would be the absolute best way to go. It has a GI of zero, is 30 times sweeter than sugar and has been used for centuries in South America as herbal food and medicine. Avoid processed versions though!

8 Reasons to Avoid Agave Nectar

  • Contrary to popular belief, agave is not made from the dried sap of the agave plant. Rather it is made from the starchy root bulb.  Not that a natural agave syrup made from the sap is indeed made in Mexico. However, it is very expensive and not widely available.
  • Conversion of the starchy agave root bulb into “nectar” requires a highly chemicalized and industrialized process. This method uses genetically modified enzymes. The process is very similar to the production of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).
  • Amber colored agave nectar is made by burning the fructose (above 140F) as it is being refined. There is no gourmet quality to it and it certainly does not contain more minerals that the clear, light agave syrup. Blue agave is no better either.
  • Agave nectar is not raw even if labeled as such. Perhaps the reason is that the heat required to produce agave is below pasteurization temperature (161F) which then allows a misleading, untruthful “raw” label via a USDA loophole. Similar deceit is used by Organic Valley in the labeling of some of its cheeses which are labeled raw but, in fact, are not raw cheese at all.
  • As consumers are becoming more aware of the problems with agave, manufacturers are starting to use “chicory syrup” instead. Be on alert for agave labeled this way to purposely mislead and deceive.

Agave Dangerous During Pregnancy

  • Saponins are present in the agave and yucca plants in large amounts. This toxic steroid derivative disrupts red blood cells. It should be avoided during pregnancy as it can induce miscarriage by stimulating uterine blood flow. Beware of industry propaganda which suggests saponins increase hydration and cellular uptake of water. Saponins have no beneficial effect when consumed and any suggestion to the contrary is simply a marketing ploy.
  • Agave nectar labels do not conform to FDA requirements. However, so far, the FDA has no attempt to enforce violations. Hence the consumer is led to believe that store bought agave is an unprocessed and traditional Mexican sweetener. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
  • The fructose in this sweetener is not L-fructose which is the primary fructose molecule in fruit or honey.  Rather, it is D-fructose which is a reverse isomer with reverse polarity to the small amounts of natural D-fructose found in fruits. Alarmingly, this means that the D-fructose is not recognized by the human body like natural fructose used for energy utilization. Instead, the unnatural form of D-fructose primarily raises triglyceride levels and increases adipose (fat) tissue.

More Information on Healthy Sweeteners

Yacon Syrup
Maple Syrup Truths Revealed
Coconut Sugar Alternative
Coconut Sugar: A Healthy and Sustainable Sweetener
Don’t Fall for Xylitol
Sugar Alcohol Dangers

The Healthy Home Economist holds a Master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania. Mother to 3 healthy children, blogger, and best-selling author, she writes about the practical application of Traditional Diet and evidence-based wellness within the modern household. Her work has been featured by USA Today, The New York Times, ABC, NBC, and many others.

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