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Have you become a fan of agave nectar? I have been using it for over two years, and it is now my favorite sweetener. I originally wanted to get rid of the white sugar and high-fructose corn syrup in my diet, and I had heard about agave nectar from a friend.

Agave nectar is about 25% sweeter than table sugar. And it is sweeter than honey, though you might mistake its appearance for honey. Agave nectar, however, will never crystallize like honey does. It will keep for a long time in its nice syrup form.

Plant Origins

Agave nectar is made from the blue agave plant, which is indigenous to Central Mexico – the same blue agave plant from which we get tequila. I must confess that I have never liked the taste of most alcoholic beverages, but I do enjoy the taste of tequila. Perhaps that spiky blue agave plant has more to recommend than looks would indicate.

The agave plant takes a long time to mature. But when it does, the laborers are ready to strip the leaves and get to the pina, the central part of the plant. They cut out the pina and take it to the mill, where it is crushed and pressed and its juice extracted. The dietary fiber (inulin) in the juice is not naturally sweet, but becomes so as it is heated. For the light nectar, a higher temperature is used for a shorter time. For the raw, darker agave, they use low temperatures for at least twice as long. The inulin then becomes a sweet syrup.

Blue Agave Plants in Mexico

Photo courtesy WikiMedia Commons
Photo courtesy WikiMedia Commons

Your Benefits

Agave nectar is better for us than sugar, simply because agave is fructose. A refined carbohydrate like sugar is released very quickly into the bloodstream once it is consumed. It creates quick energy, but with a huge blood sugar spike caused by the release of insulin. A fructose like agave has a low glycemic index, and its conversion to glucose within the body happens on an even, timed release. The average glycemic index of sugar is 68, while that of agave nectar averages 39. Anything below 55 is considered low glycemic.

Any type sugar – agave nectar, turbinado sugar, molasses, honey, high-fructose corn syrup, or table sugar – is, in essence, a carbohydrate source that needs to be used in moderation. Except for molasses, none of them contribute much in the way of nutrition, and therefore they can’t be particularly good for you. So you’re the only one who can judge what is moderate consumption.

Why Use It?

For me, moderate use of agave nectar means sweetening my morning cup of tea with it. Cold rooibos tea is terrific sweetened with agave. Agave nectar tastes good, dissolves readily in hot or cold beverages, and contains plenty of sweetening power. It sure beats using chemicals like aspartame or saccharine, and it tastes much better than the horrid stevia. It’s good enough for my needs, and you may find that it satisfies your sweet tooth as well.

If I were to go to my closest retail source of agave nectar, I would pay $7.99 for a 23.5 oz. bottle. As you can see, it’s much more economical to buy it online.

My Favorites

Wholesome Sweeteners Organic Blue Agave

My favorite agave nectar product, brought to you by Wholesome Sweeteners in Sugar Land, Texas. All of their products are certified fair-trade, certified organic, and non-GMO. This nectar is a light version, but one which is strong enough to use in my beloved tea. Outstanding price for a duo-pack.

You will find other brands of agave nectar on Amazon, but I've tried very few of them.  Some of them are lighter and not as sweet as this one.  This makes me think they might not be 100% pure agave.

Wholesome Sweeteners Organic Raw Blue Agave

Darker, richer product. Has a little more of a molasses taste, but not too much. For baking, this is the recommended version.  With Wholesome Sweeteners brand of agave, you can be sure that the product underwent the heating and extraction process in the Sugar Land plant, although the agave plants were imported from Mexico.  The product is pure, and not cut with corn syrup.

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