September 18th, 2014

Why Agave is Worse Than High Fructose Corn Syrup

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Groovy Green Livin Agave Nectar

For those of you still using agave as a sugar substitute, I have some bad news. But before I break the news to you, I have a confession: I still use agave. It’s in my ketchup and probably a few other places in my kitchen. I fell for the hype, and I know I’m not alone.

No more. It’s time to ditch it. Once the ketchup’s gone agave is no longer welcome in my kitchen. Here’s why.

What is Agave?

Agave nectar (aka agave syrup) comes from the Blue Agaves that grow in the volcanic soils of Southern Mexico. The plants are large, prickly and look like a cactus. The same plant is used to make tequila.

Why We Should Avoid Agave

Most agave nectar or syrup found in the US is actually a highly processed and refined sweetener made from the root of the agave plant. Actually, it turns out that agave is processed in a very similar way to high fructose corn syrup, and has a higher fructose content than any other common sweetener, even more than high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).

Many who once stood behind agave as a sugar substitute are now saying something very different.

Dr. Andrew Weil says:

I’ve stopped using agave myself and no longer recommend it as a healthy sweetener. The reason agave ranks relatively low on the glycemic index is because it has a high content of fructose. Fructose does not readily raise blood sugar (glucose) levels because the body doesn’t metabolize it well. New research suggests that excessive fructose consumption deranges liver function and promotes obesity. The less fructose you consume, the better.

As it turns out, agave has a higher fructose content than any other common sweetener, more even than high fructose corn syrup (HFCS)

Agave is made through a chemically intensive process, including the use of genetically modified enzymes. It’s basically high-fructose corn syrup (or worse!) disguised as a health food.

What Should We Use Instead of Agave?

There are a few natural sweeteners that are on my ‘A’ list.

Raw Honey

Honey is at the top of my sweetener list. If honey isn’t for you, check out my top three natural sweeteners HERE.

It’s important to remember that sugar is sugar. It can be disguised in may ways on a food label, but it’s all sugar. Sugar is hiding everywhere: cane sugar, beet sugar, High Fructose Corn Syrup, glucose, agave. There are over 50 names for sugar.

What’s your go-to sweetener?


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Photo credit: Kelly Sue via photopin cc

22 Responses to “Why Agave is Worse Than High Fructose Corn Syrup”

  1. I use coconut palm sugar or stevia.

  2. […] continue reading this post → […]

  3. Bleh! That’s too bad. I never got on the agave bandwagon and will confess to still using some regular sugar. I try to use as little sweeteners as possible and sub honey when possible.
    Green Bean recently posted..8 Ways to Save Water in Your GardenMy Profile

  4. I use honey that I pick up from my local farmers market. It’s really interesting to know more about agave, I hadn’t used it yet but now will avoid!
    Sara Vartanian recently posted..Compelling Reasons To Visit Pick-Your-Own FarmsMy Profile

  5. Good thing you never used agave, Green Bean. I think I would rather use regular sugar at this point. Agave is just awful.

  6. Honey is my sweetener of choice too Sara. I’m weaning off of agave right now….

  7. What a shame. I still use honey as my primary sweetener but I did love agave syrup. Oh well!
    Larissa @ Agave Villas Mexico recently posted..How Well Do You Know Puerto Vallarta?My Profile

  8. Thank you for sharing this, this is truly enlightening as Agave has always been recommended as a healthy sweetener.

  9. I need to research stevia a bit more Anna. I have some, but seem to remember reading something about it. Any thoughts?

  10. I know Jon- good to have all the information before making a choice.

  11. I have really only used agave syrup for cocktails and was always kind of meh about it. Thanks for posting this info – so hard to keep up with the facts!

  12. Augh! I just bought some agave but also bought honey 🙂
    nancy b. recently posted..Mabel’s Labels and MoreMy Profile

  13. I just use sugar. I’ve tried a bunch of other things in my morning tea or coffee, but in the end I always go back to sugar.

  14. I always learn so much from you. I use sugar but have been trying to use less and less of it and get my taste buds used to less sweetness.

  15. Thanks Jodi. I’m trying to cut back on my sugar intake right now too. There are so many great substitutes out there. I love dates at the moment.

  16. I have agave too Nancy. I won’t be buying anymore- go with the honey!

  17. You’re so welcome Michelle. The info changes so fast- it is hard to keep up!

  18. I learn something new every single day. I really need to cut back on the sweeteners. It’s so hard to change habits when you are old. 😉

  19. I stand my ground on a lot if things. I buy corn syrup for some recipes, am a huge fan of tequila but not a fan if the hype that surrounds food and food trends incessantly. My principles are know your food, your farmer and your ingredients (as much as you can). If I want to use something less processed than sugar cane sugar I use maple syrup or honey.

  20. Wow…passing this info on, Lori…bummer.
    I still put raw sugar in my coffee 🙂

  21. I will use honey in tea, or applesauce to replace other things, but usually, sugar is just my standby.
    Krystyn @ Really, Are You Serious? recently posted..6 Reasons to Visit Diagon Alley (Even The Non-Harry Potter Lover)My Profile

  22. Nice post. I’m glad you’ve come to the conclusion that sugar is sugar! Remember, honey is sugar too (50% fructose 50% glucose). The bottom line is this – moderation. Excess sugar is unhealthy, the type you choose is not as important as the amount, and also the overall quality of your diet. Rather than worry about sugar, folks should focus on eating more vegetables. Fructose is the new fall guy in the sweetener category. Once the media lets go of it, the same conclusion will be drawn – sugar is sugar. There is no evidence that moderate amounts of sugar in the diet ’cause’ anything. Here’s a link to some research:

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About Lori

Hi! I’m Lori, a recovering attorney, writer, and mom to three boys. Join me as I uncover and share the latest info on healthy living. Learn more.

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