Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Agave Nectar - The New Black

Melissa Bosslet, RD, LN, CPT

After our quick review of glycemic index and glycemic load, it is time to talk about the nutritional devil: sugar. Sugar, or glucose, is digested very quickly, causing blood sugars to spike. Sugar draws out the body's nutrients, leaving it in a state of stress. The blood sugar roller coaster leads to mood swings, low energy, brain fog, poor concentration, headaches, and hunger. The best way to control blood sugar swings is reducing the glycemic load or sugar in your diet.

SO what do you eat instead of sugar? Agave nectar! Agave has an extremely low glycemic index of 30, meaning it is converted into sugar slower than potatoes, popcorn, oatmeal, and honey to name a few. If you must sweeten, do so with agave.

Agave nectar, or syrup as it is sometimes called, is made form the sap of the agave plant. Most of our agave comes from Mexico. Agave works very well as an alternative to sugar and artificial sweeteners - it is a natural product. It can be substituted for sugar when baking as well. Use about 1/3 to 1/4 less because agave is naturally sweeter. In other words, 1 cup sugar = 3/4 cup agave nectar. Since it is a syrup, or liquid, it is also a good idea to reduce other liquids in the recipe by 1/4. Agave is a good vegan substitute in place of honey, made from bees, and some sugars, which are often processed using tiny animal bones.

Remember, agave is a good substitute for sugar, but it still is adding calories (20 calories in each teaspoon) and does not have a nutritional benefit. So although agave is healthier, I am not promoting it as healthy.


Alejandro said...

wow I didn't know it was lower #on the glycemic index. But is it safe to assume it is also just empty calories like a soda?

EB Nutrition said...

You are correct. Although agave is a better choice than sugar, it is still adding extra calories and extra sugars without providing vitamins or minerals.