Many people concerned about health and nutrition feel as if they are caught in a sweetener maze. There are so many choices and many of them are downright dangerous. Making the commitment to natural sweeteners is a healthy choice, but not even all natural sweeteners are created equal.
One of the most popular natural sweetener choices is agave nectar. It is derived from the agave plant and is potent enough that only a small amount is needed to sweeten foods and beverages. Unfortunately, some research has shown despite agave’s natural status, it still poses some danger.
So if agave is natural, why do some consider it bad for you?
First, it is high in fructose. It does not lead to the same blood sugar spike as many sweeteners, but it can create insulin resistance. This is dangerous for those at risk for diabetes and anyone concerned with weight loss. Sugar is sugar and should be treated as an occasional food, no matter how natural.
Agave has a deceptive reputation. It is sold in health food stores and marketed as a natural, healthy alternative to aspartame and high-fructose corn syrup. Granted, most would agree it is a better choice than these products, but it is far from a health food. Unfortunately, when something is marketed with a health message, many people view it as permission to eat as much as they want.
Finally, agave is guilty of hiding in foods, just like other natural and chemical sweeteners. If you assume you are only getting the amount of sweetener you add to your coffee or tea, without realizing how much you are really eating in other foods, it can wreak havoc on your body without your even realizing it.
So, like some other sweeteners, should you eliminate agave from your diet? Maybe. The answer is different for everyone and depends on their personal health concerns. You should limit the amount of agave you eat and do the same with all natural sweeteners, especially those with calories. Stevia is a calorie-free alternative, but some find it too sweet for certain foods. Other options include black strap molasses and coconut sugar. Your best bet it to try different products until you find one that is right for you, while at the same time limiting your overall intake of sweet foods.