Agave isn’t so healthy after all!
For months, I’ve been convinced that agave nectar won’t spike your blood sugar
like regular sugar because of its low-glycaemic index (GI). But it turns out that although agave doesn’t contain much glucose, it contains more fructose than any other common sweetener – including high-fructose corn syrup. Initially, we thought moderate amounts of fructose weren’t unhealthy, but we now know better.
So what happens when you eat fructose-rich agave? Well, for starters, your body doesn’t release nearly as much insulin as it does when you eat regular sugar. This can affect how your body releases a hormone called leptin, which helps control your appetite. At the same time, experts believe that fructose converts to fat
more rapidly than glucose. This can lead to several alarming consequences…
The risks of eating agave
The first is that people who eat a lot of agave are at risk of weight gain, especially belly fat
. The second is that agave might actually increase insulin resistance for both non-diabetics and diabetics.
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In addition, fructose poses a danger to your cardiovascular system. This could increase your risk for metabolic syndrome and heart disease
. Unlike glucose, fructose can only be broken down in your liver. As you metabolise it, uric acid and free radicals form, which can trigger inflammation and damage your cells.
Plus, one of the most dangerous final products of fructose metabolism is triglycerides, which can contribute to the fatty arterial plaques responsible for cardiovascular disease. High triglycerides are particularly dangerous for women, whose risk for cardiovascular disease rises three times as much for every single unit increase in triglycerides compared to men.
Alternative natural sweeteners to try
Fortunately, agave nectar isn’t the only natural sweetener you can turn to when you have to satisfy your sweet tooth. Organic raw honey has less fructose than most agave, and is the only natural sweetener with other health benefits. These benefits include anti-microbial, heart-healthy and anti-inflammatory effects.
Some research also suggests that honey can soothe a sore throat and a cough as well as, if not better than, many over-the-counter cough syrups!
I love honey so much. I think it’s a great alternative to agave nectar. As much as I love agave nectar, now that I’m aware of the risks involved in eating it, I’ve decided to steer clear of it in the future. If you’re not a fan of honey and have to use agave, I urge you to use the smallest amount possible.