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.