4 Reasons Why Agave is Not a Health Food

Agave Plant

Millions of people have their vices, and for many it’s that available-without-prescription drug known as sugar. Its destructive and addictive abundance has helped make more than two-thirds of American adults either overweight or obese, not to mention saddling them with life-altering problems like diabetes, heart disease, cancer and dementia. Its disease-promoting effects are proof that sugar is anything but sweet. Excess sugar, in all its guises, causes so much illness and suffering. I cannot stress enough how important it is to kick it and all sweeteners as well. And trust me, I know how challenging it is – I once had a sweet tooth too!

Back when I still felt I “needed” the sweet taste, I, like many others, looked for healthier alternatives, as in sweeteners found in nature not in the lab. I made the switch to agave nectar – and I wasn’t alone. Its popularity spread – it’s gluten-free! diabetic-friendly! vegan-friendly! – and seemingly overnight a billion dollar industry was born. Fast-forward a few years, and unfortunately, the stuff has revealed itself to be a classic case of ‘too good to be true,’ not the free pass everyone thought it was. So if you’ve been feasting on agave thinking it’s a health food, here’s your wake up call, and four reasons why you don’t need agave nectar:

1. It’s Tarted-up Junk Food, Marketed as a Health Food

Agave. It’s an exotic name that conjures up images of the azure skies and painted desert landscapes of Mexico, where much of it is grown. The ‘nectar’ (such a delicious word!) of this exotic plant is sweet and golden like honey, blending easily into just about everything you wish to sweeten. Problem is, it’s also a smoking pile of marketing hooey. As appealing as this dream-like image may be, in reality agave nectar little more than a high-fructose syrup, as nasty to your health as its corn-based cousin – and possibly even more damaging.

2. If You Like Your Sweeteners With Chemicals, You’ve Come to the Right Place

Along with the agave nectar mystique, there’s this little problem of processing. While many people envision sap flowing down the plant and farmers tapping the stalks they way they do maple trees, there’s no old-timey tapping going on here. Instead, the leaves are cut away, the juice is expressed from the remaining root base bulb, heated (concentrating the sugars) and then filtered into a syrupy, fructose concentrate. Along the way, most producers will treat the syrup with caustic chemicals, enzymes and acids to clean, tint, clarify and preserve the liquid. So, if you think you’re sweetening with some groovy, raw, pure, unfettered, close-to-the-earth sweetener, more likely, you’re not.

3. It Won’t Spike Blood Sugar BUT Worse, It Drives Insulin Resistance!

Among the reasons agave nectar took off was that it is gluten-free and a seemingly more natural sugar substitute for most vegan and paleo types. And doesn’t trigger blood sugar spikes, making it technically OK for diabetics. But all that should go out the window (along with your bottle of agave) when you take into account the fact that processed agave nectar can be anywhere from 55% to 90% fructose, whereas plain old sugar comes in at 50%. Keep in mind that does not mean one is healthier than the other – both are lousy choices. And while marketers continue to hammer home the happy-sounding news that fructose doesn’t spike blood sugar, the reality is that it gets sent straight to the liver where excessive amounts can trigger insulin resistance, a true health nightmare. Eat too much fructose – particularly in the form of agave nectar, sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, etc. – for too long and you’ll be on the road to diabetes and a host of other chronic diseases. My advice? Pull off the processed high-fructose highway long before your engine starts to sputter.

4. By the Time It’s Processed into Nectar, Agave’s Benefits Are “No Mas”

Raw and unfettered, agave is said to confer a number of health benefits. However, the stuff that comes in plastic packets or bottles has been so heavily processed and refined that by the time you’re pouring it into your tea, its benefits have been bled out of it. The healing, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and probiotic effects you think you’re buying are dead on arrival. Light years away from the original plant, the commercially bottled stuff is just one more cleverly packaged form of sugar that your body simply doesn’t need.

BE WELL BONUS: So what’s a sweet lover to do? To quote Joan Rivers, “Grow up!” – as in do all you can to end your relationship with processed sugar and any sort of sweetener. If you need the occasional sweet treat, reach for a whole food, like an organic apple and savor the real, naturally occurring fructose which, unlike processed sweeteners, comes complete with fiber, vitamins and antioxidants. If the sweet monster has really got you by the throat and you’re hooked, try a detox to help change the course of your life and your health.

Also read 20 Ways to Get Sugar Out of Your Life  for more thoughts on how kick the sugar and sweetener habit.

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  • Diego

    Dr. Lipman, this statement is false: “Along the way, most producers will treat the syrup with caustic
    chemicals, enzymes and acids to clean, tint, clarify and preserve the
    liquid.” None of the major commercial producers use any chemicals, and this is documented by respected 3rd party organic auditors. This article is like a cut-and-paste from the original agave hit piece by Mercola and Nagel. I suggest more scientific research and current facts surrounding the processing of agave for a realistic discussion. The real discussion should be around dosage (amount of sweetener consumed). Any sweetener in massive doses is harmful. Agave in moderation has no proven negative effects, and in fact, a very recent study shows that mice who were fed agave gained about 50% less weight than mice fed with table sugar.

  • Julie

    I am confused as to why your book Revive contains smoothie recipes which include agave nectar if it is to be avoided.

  • Julie

    I am confused as to why your book Revive contains smoothie recipes which include agave nectar if it is to be avoided.

  • Mspina

    So have you modified the salad dressing receipes in your book Revive? If so, are you just removing agave from the receipts going forward? Thanks

  • Anonymous

    Hi Julie,
    Revive was published before this research came to light. We do not recommend agave but now would recommend stevia if needed to sweeten.
    ~ Jackie, Be Well Coach

  • Anonymous

    Hi,

    Yes, for the salad dressings we recommend removing agave and either using raw,local honey or no sweetener.

    ~Jackie, Be Well Coach

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  • Natasha Johnson

    How to Save Your Relationship And Marriage from Divorce or broke up

    An amazing testimony on a spell caster who brought my husband back to me.. My name is Natasha Johnson,i live in Florida,USA,and I’m happily married to a lovely and caring husband ,with two kids.A very big problem occurred in my family seven months ago,between me and my husband .so terrible that he took the case to court for a divorce.he said that he never wanted to stay with me again,and that he didn’t love me anymore.So he packed out of the house and made me and my children passed through severe pain. I tried all my possible means to get him back,after much begging,but all to no avail.and he confirmed it that he has made his decision,and he never wanted to see me again. So on one evening,as i was coming back from work,i met an old friend of mine who asked of my husband .So i explained every thing to him,so he told me that the only way i can get my husband back,is to visit a spell caster,because it has really worked for him too.So i never believed in spell,but i had no other choice,than to follow his advice. Then he gave me the email address of the spell caster whom he [email protected]}. So the next morning,i sent a mail to the address he gave to me,and the spell caster assured me that i will get my husband back the next day.What an amazing statement!! I never believed,so he spoke with me,and told me everything that i need to do. Then the next morning, So surprisingly, my husband who didn’t call me for the past seven {7}months,gave me a call to inform me that he was coming back.So Amazing!! So that was how he came back that same day,with lots of love and joy,and he apologized for his mistake,and for the pain he caused me and my children. Then from that day,our relationship was now stronger than how it were before,by the help of a spell caster. So, i will advice you out there to kindly visit the same website { http://enchantedscents.tripod.com/lovespell/},if you are in any condition like this,or you have any problem related to “bringing your ex back. So thanks to the Dr Brave for bringing back my husband ,and brought great joy to my family once again. [email protected]}, Thanks…..,,..,

  • Pamela

    Do you advise against Whole Foods’ Raw Organic Agave Nectar? Thank you for sharing all of this helpful information.

  • Anonymous

    Yes, we much prefer using raw, local honey or real maple syrup as they are less processed.

    Be Well!
    Jackie, Be Well Coach