“Why do you use agave? I’ve heard that it’s very unhealthy” I’m asked this question about my “go to” sweetener on at least a daily basis.
First off, there really is no perfect sweetener, so I recommend everything in moderation.
We often take sugar and other sweeteners for granted, forgetting that they were not widely available to humans until the modern era (excluding of course, those living in the tropical regions feasting on mangoes and pineapple). Processed sugar was invented between the Medieval Period and the Enlightenment (more than 500 years ago), it became more widely available during the 1400 and 1500’s. By 1750 (with the advent of the Industrial Revolution and the invention of sugar mills) sugar became wildly popular.
So if we really think about it, up until a couple of hundred years ago, the majority of the human race (at least those living in colder climes) only experienced the taste of sweetness by eating fruit when it was in season (or when nursing, of course). The fruit that was eaten was not the overly ripe, super sweet fruit that is bred today. Think of wild blueberries –they are tiny and tart. The fruit we eat today has been cultivated for its juicy, sweet flavor.
I think the spike in diabetes and other diseases we have seen during the past decades may partially be due to the fact that humans are not accustomed to eating large quantities of sugar and are not able to efficiently metabolize this substance.
Sugar is sugar. Agave is sugar. An apple is sugar with some good vitamins, minerals and fiber. Basically, many of us (especially those with celiac) would be prudent to monitor our intake of sugar in any form (celiac and diabetes ride on the same HLA gene, so the presence of one increases the likelihood of the other).
While I do use agave in my dessert recipes, I am very cautious about my overall intake of this (and all other sweet substances) because I find that unfortunately, I am one of those whose body rebels against too much sugar. Of course, my husband and children can eat a lot more of this substance than I do and still feel great. That’s what keeps me baking like a fiend. They want their treats and they do just fine with them.
For those of you that are now on the anti-agave bandwagon, I have come up with this date sweetened recipe. Of course, I will still be using agave because I feel ok when I consume it in very small amounts.
These tasty gluten-free, Paleo (I think) muffins do not contain agave for all of the agave-phobes out there. I will be creating some desserts with alternative sweeteners just to spice things up (plus, I like a good challenge every now and then). However, I will still be using agave for some recipes.
In terms of the great agave debate, I want you all to know that I use Madhava Agave Nectar. While I’ve noticed a lot of your comments with links to articles about the evils of agave syrup I want to also point out this link posted by one of my readers, Shari, from Madhava’s President Craig Gerbore.
On a much lighter note, here’s a cool coincidence in regards to agave nectar. The winner of last weeks Freebie Friday is Karen from wrighttherapies.com. She left an interesting comment regarding the controversy over agave nectar on my Asian Salad Dressing post.
Agave or not, have a great weekend!