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Product Review: Agave Nectar

agave nectar

Sweetness is the first taste we experience in life, the primal taste of our infancy, of mother’s milk.

For several years I researched delicious, healthy alternatives to sugar that held up well in the baking process, yet did not substantially raise glycemic index levels. Enter agave, the nectar of the agave cactus plant –a golden liquid readily available in health food stores.

I prefer agave because as you can see below, it is lower on the glycemic index (GI) than other sweeteners:

  • sugar (95)
  • honey (77)
  • maple syrup (54)
  • agave nectar (26-40)

Agave also has a very neutral flavor, unlike honey and other natural sweeteners.

There is a range of purity in the available agave nectars on the market. Most people agree that the finest, purest agave is manufactured in Jalisco, Mexico. Agave from this region is renown to have no added fillers or sweeteners.

Volcanic brand agave is from Jalisco. This brand is touted by the Oprah doctor, Mehmet Oz. According to the manufacturer, Volcanic blue agave has a (GI) of 26. Volcanic is pricey, about two to three times more expensive than other brands.

Madhava is a more readily available, less costly brand of agave. You can find it at most health food stores. When I contacted Madhava’s manufacturer/distributor (Nekutli/Colibree), they were very helpful and forthcoming, responding to all of my questions immediately. According to Nekutli, the glycemic index of Madhava agave is under 40; this is still well below the GI of sugar. To purchase madhava agave nectar, click on the bottle to right.

In all of my recipes, I use “light” agave nectar, as opposed to amber or dark, as light has a more neutral flavor than the other options, and most closely resembles sugar in taste when added to baked goods.


posted on February 27, 2007, 15 comments

  1. Hi Elana,
    I am wondering what you know about determining if a person is “allergic” to sugar or not. I have done elimination with other things. What are your symptoms when you ingest sugar? I am at the point where I need to test some other things, too.
    thanks

  2. Hi Jeanne-
    When I eat sugar, I tend to feel quite moody and find myself on a rough emotional roller coaster; once I gave it up things evened out. I really noticed a difference. I highly recommend a book called Sugar Blues. Great read. Hope this helps!
    Elana

  3. Samantha

    I was wondering if you could help me with converting recipes. What I mean is, when a recipe calls for sugar and I want to subsitute with agave nectar, how do you figure that out?

  4. Hi Samantha,

    Thanks for stopping by. I don’t have a formula, I just experiment until it tastes good to me (and my family).

    Elana

  5. Dawn

    I am really excited to see each of your new recipes. I love all the gluten, dairy and sugar free recipes. Thank you for making meals so much easier. Do you ever use “raw” agave nectar? If so, how do you feel it does in a recipe compared to the regular agave nectar?

  6. Hi Dawn,

    I haven’t tried cooking with the raw agave. I would think that the recipes might not work out, becoming a bit watery or mooshy since the raw agave would likely have a higher water content.

    Elana

  7. christin

    I know you know alot about food science so I thought I would share this article with you.
    I have been wondering alot lately about high fructose corn syrup and wondering how agave was any different. Here is a great article someone sent me. I really hope you read it. I just found your website about a month ago and I love it!!!! http://www.naturalnews.com/z024892.html
    I think I will stick with maple syrup from now on, bummer it’s way more spendy.

  8. Christin,

    Thanks for sharing this great article, I’ve seen it. Basically, I think the most important part of it is that it warns us all to stay away from sugar of any kind –except just a bit of fruit sugar. I completely agree with that point and view any kind of sweetener (other than fruit) as something to be eaten on a weekly, not daily basis.

    Elana

  9. Melanie

    As a vegan I use agave nectar in place of honey – is agave nectar considered sugar free? It is a question I have been asked many times and do know that it is better for diabetics but do not know if it is considered sugar free.

    Thanks

  10. Melanie,

    I am not sure how to answer your question. Agave is full of sugar (simple carbohydrates) though lower on the glycemic index than the overly processed white sugar that most people bake with.

    If you are looking for a sweetener that is sugar free I would recommend stevia.

    Hope this helps.

    Elana

  11. Sarah

    Hi! I need a little help. I am wanting to make a chocolate cake this weekend for my sister’s 35th birthday, but she cant have ANY sugar. She has a rare condition and cant have any….but can use agave nectar. I have searched the web and havent found any recipes and I am not the best baker, so I need a little help. She can have flour, just no sugar or artificial sweeteners. Any thoughts?

  12. ~M

    I wanted to let you know that earlier today I found organic Blue Agave Nectar at Costco. It’s 2 23.5 oz bottles for $7.79, making it $0.166/oz, the cheapest I’ve found anywhere. :)

  13. Does this taste better than stevia? I hope so because I’m looking for an alternative to sugar and didn’t like the taste of stevia.

  14. Alfred Currier

    Agave syrup is almost all fructose, highly processed sugar with great marketing,” said Dr. Ingrid Kohlstadt, a fellow of the American College of Nutrition and an associate faculty member at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. This was published in the Huffington Post

    As someone who watches my sugar levels, I found information very upsetting. Agave manufacturers claim “low glysemic” but it is not. I bought this from Costco and couldn’t figure out why my blood sugar lever shot way up. I read lables! After four weeks of using blue agave, I decided to cut it from my diet and go back to artifical sweetners. My blood sugar level dropped 30 points!

    I then reseached on line and found support for what I found. Please correct future food articles that might feature agave as it could hurt those who are trying to live healthy.
    Thanks, Al

    • Lisa

      Absolutely!! I do not consider agave to be a healthy sweetener AT ALL and won’t touch it. Although it is touted as a low glycemic sweetener, it’s affect on our bodies is awful. There is a lot of info out there on it, anyone can do a search on “agave liver” to find out how consuming agave nectar affects your liver. Nutritionists on both the vegan side and the traditional foods side warn people away from agave.

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