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Agave Nectar: Good or Bad?

Is agave nectar good? Is agave nectar bad? Believe it or not, I thought I’d written a definitive post on this topic.

As it turns out, I hadn’t. Earlier this week a reader emailed me, seeking an answer to the classic question: Agave nectar — good or bad? She pointed out that she’d done a search for agave nectar on this site and only turned up two entries. In one, I’d said to avoid it. In another, I mentioned that I’d used agave nectar while experimenting with kombucha and didn’t enjoy the results.

So, she concluded: “Why, if agave nectar is a natural sweetener, should it not be used? What about it is bad? I’ve been preferring it to honey and maple syrup on my waffles, pancakes, and yogurt.”

I realized then that I needed to post a definitive guide to agave nectar, answering the question once and for all. This is it.

Agave Nectar: Good or Bad?

The short answer to that reader’s question is simple: almost all commercially available agave nectar is not a “natural sweetener.” Plus, agave nectar has more concentrated fructose in it than high fructose corn syrup. Now, let’s get into the details.

Agave Nectar Is Not A Natural Sweetener

Once upon a time, I picked up a jar of “Organic Raw Blue Agave Nectar” at my grocery store. It was the first time I’d ever seen the stuff in real life, and the label looked promising. After all, words like “organic,” “raw,” and “all natural” should mean something. Sadly, agave nectar is neither truly raw, nor is it all natural.

Based on the labeling, I could picture native peoples creating their own agave nectar from the wild agave plants. Surely, this was a traditional food, eaten for thousands of years. Sadly, it is not.

Native Mexican peoples do make a sort of sweetener out of the agave plant. It’s called miel de agave, and it’s made by boiling the agave sap for a couple of hours. Think of it as the Mexican version of authentic Canadian maple syrup.

But this is not what most so-called “agave nectar” is. According to one popular agave nectar manufacturer, “Agave nectar is a newly created sweetener, having been developed in the 1990s.” In a recent article now posted on the Weston A. Price foundation’s website, Ramiel Nagel and Sally Fallon Morell write,

Agave “nectar” is not made from the sap of the yucca or agave plant but from the starch of the giant pineapple-like, root bulb. The principal constituent of the agave root is starch, similar to the starch in corn or rice, and a complex carbohydrate called inulin, which is made up of chains of fructose molecules.Technically a highly indigestible fiber, inulin, which does not taste sweet, comprises about half of the carbohydrate content of agave.

The process by which agave glucose and inulin are converted into “nectar” is similar to the process by which corn starch is converted into HFCS. The agave starch is subject to an enzymatic and chemical process that converts the starch into a fructose-rich syrup—anywhere from 70 percent fructose and higher according to the agave nectar chemical profiles posted on agave nectar websites.

Compare that to the typical fructose content of high fructose corn syrup (55%)!

In a different article, Rami Nagel quotes Russ Bianchi, managing director and CEO of Adept Solutions, Inc., a globally recognized food and beverage development company, on the similarities between agave nectar and high fructose corn syrup:

They are indeed made the same way, using a highly chemical process with genetically modified enzymes. They are also using caustic acids, clarifiers, filtration chemicals and so forth in the conversion of agave starches into highly refined fructose inulin that is even higher in fructose content than high fructose corn syrup.

So there you have it. Agave nectar is not traditional, is highly refined, and actually has more concentrated fructose than high-fructose corn syrup. It is not a “natural” sweetener. Thus far, the evidence definitely points toward the conclusion: Agave Nectar = Bad.

“But,” you ardent agave nectar enthusiasts say, “agave nectar has a low glycemic index. I’m a diabetic, and it’s the only sweetener I can use!”

What’s wrong with fructose?

First, we need to clarify something. Concentrated fructose is not found in fruit, or anywhere else in nature. When the sugar occurs in nature, it is often called “levulose” and is accompanied by naturally-occurring enzymes, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and fruit pectin.  Concentrated fructose, on the other hand, is a man-made sugar created by the refining process. To clarify:

Saying fructose is levulose is like saying that margarine is the same as butter. Refined fructose lacks amino acids, vitamins, minerals, pectin, and fiber. As a result, the body doesn’t recognize refined fructose. Levulose, on the other hand, is [fructose] naturally occurring in fruits, and is not isolated but bound to other naturally occurring sugars. Unlike man-made fructose, levulose contains enzymes, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and fruit pectin. Refined fructose is processed in the body through the liver, rather than digested in the intestine. Levulose is digested in the intestine. (source)

I want you to pay special attention to those last two sentences, for they are a huge key that will help unlock the mystery of why fructose is bad for you.

Because fructose is digested in your liver, it is immediately turned into triglycerides or stored body fat. Since it doesn’t get converted to blood glucose like other sugars, it doesn’t raise or crash your blood sugar levels. Hence the claim that it is safe for diabetics.

But it isn’t.

That’s because fructose inhibits leptin levels — the hormone your body uses to tell you that you’re full. In other words, fructose makes you want to eat more. Besides contributing to weight gain, it also makes you gain the most dangerous kind of fat.

This has been verified in numerous studies. The most definitive one was released just this past year in the Journal of Clinical Investigation. The full study is available online, but for the sake of space I’m including Stephan’s (of Whole Health Source fame) summary here:

The investigators divided 32 overweight men and women into two groups, and instructed each group to drink a sweetened beverage three times per day. They were told not to eat any other sugar. The drinks were designed to provide 25% of the participants’ caloric intake. That might sound like a lot, but the average American actually gets about 25% of her calories from sugar! That’s the average, so there are people who get a third or more of their calories from sugar. In one group, the drinks were sweetened with glucose, while in the other group they were sweetened with fructose.

After ten weeks, both groups had gained about three pounds. But they didn’t gain it in the same place. The fructose group gained a disproportionate amount of visceral fat, which increased by 14%! Visceral fat is the most dangerous type; it’s associated with and contributes to chronic disease, particularly metabolic syndrome, the quintessential modern metabolic disorder (see the end of the post for more information and references). You can bet their livers were fattening up too.

The good news doesn’t end there. The fructose group saw a worsening of blood glucose control and insulin sensitivity. They also saw an increase in small, dense LDL particles and oxidized LDL, both factors that associate strongly with the risk of heart attack and may in fact contribute to it. Liver synthesis of fat after meals increased by 75%. If you look at table 4, it’s clear that the fructose group experienced a major metabolic shift, and the glucose group didn’t. Practically every parameter they measured in the fructose group changed significantly over the course of the 9 weeks. It’s incredible.

Back to our original question — Agave Nectar: Good or Bad?

The conclusion is clear. Agave nectar is bad for you. It’s not traditional, not natural, highly refined, and contains more concentrated fructose than high fructose corn syrup.

What natural sweeteners do I recommend?

If you’re interested in what other traditional sweeteners are out there that are actually natural, check out My Natural Sweeteners of Choice.

Or, simply skip straight to what I buy and use:

Where to buy organic, raw honey.
Where to buy coconut palm sugar.
Where to buy maple syrup.
Where to buy stevia.
Where to buy sorghum syrup.
Where to buy maple sugar.

(photo by edgeplot)

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I am a passionate advocate for REAL FOOD -- food that's sustainable, organic, local, and traditionally-prepared according to the wisdom of our ancestors. I'm also an author and a nutrition educator. I enjoy playing in the rain, a good bottle of Caol Ila scotch, curling up with a page-turning book, sunbathing on my hammock, and watching my three children explore their world.

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347 Responses to Agave Nectar: Good or Bad?
  1. Dewyleaf
    January 7, 2010 | 1:20 pm

    Concentrated fructose? Reason enuf 2 avoid! RT @FoodRenegade Agave nectar: Good or Bad? The definitive answer: http://su.pr/2sqBSO

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

    • Nicole
      January 8, 2010 | 3:24 pm

      I would love to hear your feedback on the agave nectar from Ultimate Super Foods. Their Agave is Clear in color. Whatever process is used by them is different. They claim agave should not be caramel color and that the ones that are have something else going on (sounds like what you are describing above).

      Would you let me know if Ultimate Super Foods Agave is different?

      From the Ultimate Super Foods Website: http://www.ultimatesuperfoods.com/ProductDescription.aspx?comcode=NC&plinid=AGVNEC&selection=0&listitem=agave

      “Ultimate SuperFoods’ “Real” Raw Agave Nectar is gently manufactured in a way to minimally take away from the natural benefits (no enzymes or acids are added and the temperature is maintained at a low rate).”

      Thanks for your time~
      Nicole

      • Ravi
        February 13, 2011 | 6:24 pm

        Although their processing may be different – you are still talking about an end result that is exceptionally high in fructose – we just do not need to go there with all the other healthier and more natural sweeteners available – and besides – for REAL health one must cut sugar across the board – white death, ya know?
        Ravi, DaiaSolGaia, Discoveries for a Full Life

        • Carlos
          June 11, 2014 | 10:01 pm

          What are the “other” Natural sweeteners out there?, I have just been turned on to Coconut palm sugar and syrup too, now looking into Maguay nector, but wondering is I should spend so much now that Agave has turned out to be bunk.

    • mary
      February 24, 2012 | 2:02 pm

      agave ups ldl and damages the liver

    • Reginald
      October 20, 2012 | 9:27 pm

      It is glycemic level of a sweetener that counts. And 100 percent blue agave sweeteners are very low glycemic and totally safe for diabetics because their glycemic load is low. It also does not contribute to the adiopose fatty tissue growth in weight gain problems.

      • Karen Vaughan, L.Ac.
        August 1, 2013 | 9:49 pm

        Well no, Reginald.
        Glycemic index only measures glucose, and fructose is not glucose. But fructose which is all metabolized in the liver instead of all over the body, is worse for diabetics than glucose. It triggers fat accumulation.

        One of the main drawbacks of the glycemic index and load is that it only measures the changes in blood glucose. Fructose, lactose, and other sugars that can increase blood insulin levels do not show as raising blood glucose. The problem with diabetes is that sugars of all kinds can spike blood insulin, which increases both insulin resistance as well as inflammation in the body. But it is not easy to measure blood insulin, so the information on low insulemic foods is less available. In other words, just because agave nectar and fructose show up as low in glycemic values, it does not follow that they are good for blood sugar. In fact the Glycemic Institute banned all work on agave because of the damage it does for diabetes.

        My article on agave syrup shows pictures of its industrial production: http://www.acupuncturebrooklyn.com/alternative-health/agave-nectar-a-healthy-sweetner

        • César
          November 5, 2013 | 2:37 pm

          Well, eat air then!

          Everything looks bad for you!

          Glucose, Fructose, Galactose, Mannose, Lactose, Sucrose, Starch! So don’t know why Nature created them then!

          I think you can eat everything, of course, with moderate use. The dose makes the poison.

          Don’t push yourself!

        • Doreen Shababy
          August 3, 2014 | 10:05 pm

          Hey, I really liked your article, Karen, and appreciate that you have gone into so much detail.

    • Jenny C
      July 11, 2013 | 3:24 pm

      Great article, thank you!!

    • Lori
      February 9, 2014 | 3:51 pm
    • Jackie Christiansen
      September 11, 2014 | 9:09 pm

      Kristen,
      Do you know if there is ANY organic, raw agave that is good for you (not refined)?

  2. burnkitty
    January 7, 2010 | 1:21 pm

    Enlightening! RT @FoodRenegade: Agave nectar: Good or Bad? The definitive answer: http://su.pr/2sqBSO

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  3. kitchenmonki
    January 7, 2010 | 1:24 pm

    Very interesting….RT @FoodRenegade: Agave nectar: Good or Bad? The definitive answer: http://su.pr/2sqBSO

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  4. Rebecca
    January 7, 2010 | 1:39 pm

    Thank you for this informative article about agave nectar! Can you infer why many health food vendors promote it and why it is associated with all-natural foods and beverage products? Maybe it was just successful target marketing…
    .-= Rebecca´s last blog post …Drink Inside the Box- La Boite =-.

    • KristenM
      January 7, 2010 | 1:45 pm

      I think so. Alternative sweeteners are a big market, particularly ones that don’t immediately affect your blood sugar levels. But it wouldn’t be the first time something completely industrialized and non-healthy became a hit in the health-food community (think: soy).

      • Joy Bono
        September 13, 2010 | 4:33 pm

        Is soy truly unhealthy?

        • KristenM
          September 13, 2010 | 4:36 pm

          YES! Please see my post on the dangers of soy.

        • Julia
          April 13, 2011 | 9:57 am

          Soy isn’t bad for you, but it depends on the type you eat. GMO, non-organic soy, soy protein isolate and such are bad for your health. Whole organic soy is good for you. This is a good discussion about the different claims and information about soy: http://www.edenfoods.com/articles/view.php?articles_id=80 They do use soy in their products, but they clarify a lot of the information instead of pushing the cheapest version for the most profit. I stopped buying food from companies like Yves and LightLife because they have SP isolate, I didn’t know it was that bad until I read that article. Like with everything, whole foods are the best, with minimal and simple processing if needed and as with everything – in moderation.

          • Julietta Cochrane
            March 24, 2012 | 4:35 am

            Only fermented soy is ‘good’ for you … all other soya products should be avoided.

            • Hanna
              March 30, 2012 | 8:43 pm

              And the amount, I cant remember the numbers but westerns eat like 5 time the amount of asians per day – too much of anything isnt good for you

              • Natasha
                August 20, 2012 | 12:34 am

                I am vegetarian, so I don’t eat any Asians at all.

                • Sara
                  August 26, 2012 | 8:33 pm

                  Lollll!!! @Natasha

                • gauvinma
                  March 7, 2013 | 7:03 pm

                  lol, amazing.

                • JamesD
                  May 29, 2014 | 1:25 pm

                  LOL…maybe one of the hazards of also roaming around the Texting World? Abbreviated speech will always bite you.

    • Deb
      January 7, 2010 | 2:30 pm

      I’ve been shopping at health food stores since the mid-90′s and have seen many miracle foods come and go – these stores are just as likely to jump on a fad and make money off it as the mainstream stores are.
      .-= Deb´s last blog post …Monthly Measure =-.

      • Chris
        July 29, 2010 | 4:28 pm

        Yeah, brown sugar was in fact once a “health food” item, saying it was purer and not at all like white sugar. In reality, it is white sugar with a little molasses added.

  5. susanwake
    January 7, 2010 | 1:43 pm

    Nice summary of why we avoid it! RT @FoodRenegade: Agave nectar: Good or Bad? The definitive answer: http://su.pr/2sqBSO

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  6. mishmashed
    January 7, 2010 | 1:52 pm

    FYI hippies: agave is a load of old shit! RT @foodrenegade Agave nectar: Good or Bad? The definitive answer: http://su.pr/2sqBSO

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  7. drrichardschiro
    January 7, 2010 | 1:52 pm

    Agave “nectar”–is it actually High Fructose Agave Syrup? RT @FoodRenegade: Agave nectar: Good or Bad? http://su.pr/2sqBSO

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  8. coosbaylarson
    January 7, 2010 | 1:58 pm

    Never jumped on Agave nectar bandwagon. This sums up why http://su.pr/2sqBSO From @FoodRenegade

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  9. tastytouring
    January 7, 2010 | 2:00 pm

    Mind blown. Reading @foodrenegade Agave Nectar: Good or Bad? http://tinyurl.com/ygctwr5 (via @Rbcammendations and @ediblearia)

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  10. passion4eating
    January 7, 2010 | 2:06 pm

    enjoy Agave? check this out! RT @foodrenegade Agave nectar: Good or Bad? The definitive answer: http://su.pr/2sqBSO

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  11. Bonnie141
    January 7, 2010 | 2:06 pm

    Excellent article on agave nector: http://bit.ly/6Lf8S8

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  12. Miachel
    January 7, 2010 | 2:10 pm

    @SamPlacette Err…what? (RT @MisoHungry RT @FoodRenegade) Agave nectar: Good or Bad? The definitive answer: http://su.pr/2sqBSO [YIKES!]

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  13. SamPlacette
    January 7, 2010 | 2:15 pm

    I need a new fix RT @Miachel (via @MisoHungry, @FoodRenegade) Agave nectar: Good or Bad? The definitive answer: http://su.pr/2sqBSO [YIKES!]

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  14. esteban
    January 7, 2010 | 2:27 pm
    • KristenM
      January 7, 2010 | 2:56 pm

      Esteban — I read the article you linked to when conducting my research. A couple of points:

      1) Even Madhava’s agave nectar is higher in fructose than high fructose corn syrup

      2) Madhava’s own website states that “Agave nectar is a newly created sweetener, having been developed during the 1990′s.”

      3) Even Madhava uses a refining process involving enzymes. So what if their particular process isn’t chemical? It’s still a highly refined sweetener, not “natural” at all.

      So, my conclusion is still true: Agave nectar is not a traditional food, not natural, and the fructose concentration in it is very dangerous for our health.

      • Ann Marie @ CHEESESLAVE
        January 7, 2010 | 8:27 pm

        Kristen, I love your logical mind. 1, 2, 3. :-)
        .-= Ann Marie @ CHEESESLAVE´s last blog post …Real Food Wednesday: January 6, 2010 =-.

      • April
        August 18, 2011 | 1:33 pm

        I was pretty freaked out when I read this; however; I did my own research & was curious on your thoughts.
        1)What is wrong with fructose if eaten in moderation? The definition of fructose is a sugar found especially in honey & fruit.
        2) Even though it was discovered in 1990, does that make it unnatural? “Miel de agave” which you reference as a natural process is right on the Madhava’s bottle and is derived from the agave plant, not some pineapple like root.
        3) Enzymes are a natural protein…just like bees introduce an enzyme to nectar to produce honey, Madhava uses a natural vegan enzyme to produce agave…is it less natural because man introdcues it over a bee?

        • A.B. Dada
          September 24, 2011 | 6:32 pm

          April,

          Fructose by itself is a biological poison sorts, for a variety of reasons:

          1. Fructose is malabsorbed by the body when it’s consumed in excess of a like amount of glucose (which is one of the fuels that powers the brain). Because the body can’t use fructose directly, and excess sugar can kill you, the body works in overdrive to NOT absorb it. Excess fructose in the digestive system can create an excess of unhealthy bacteria or fermentation of the fructose in the bowel.

          2. Fructose that is absorbed by the body goes directly through the liver to be processed (working your liver harder). It’s 1000% more likely to result in glycation, which is the action of sugars binding to certain proteins, which can lead to a variety of illnesses and diseasers.

          3. Because the liver can not handle fructose well, it has to do something with that excess “energy” — it gets stored as body fat, mostly.

          4. Excessive fructose can cause liver disease, similar to alcoholism.

          5. Because the liver works in overdrive and can eventually fail, fructose can be a cause of diabetes and other forms of hyperinsulinemia.

          Basically, excess fructose is a poison.

          • Zen
            August 22, 2012 | 9:59 am

            A.B., excess anything is a poison. Fructose in the right form and amount is a critical component to a healthy diet. In fact, People who regularly engage in intense exercise should ensure they ingest a reasonable amount to replenish muscle glycogen stores. That isn’t to say one should tank down 200 grams of HFCS or processed agave on a daily basis, even if you’re a pro soccer player. Moderation is the key.

        • Karen Vaughan, L.Ac.
          August 1, 2013 | 10:06 pm

          AB pretty much nailed the problems with fructose. It is worth pointing out that fructose is not the identical to the fruit in
          sugar, levulose, which is a levorotatory D-form of fructose combined with a number of other important compounds found in fruit.

          Most of the fructose in fruit is in the form of L-fructose or levulose; the fructose in HFCS and agave is a different isomer, D-fructose.

          Refined fructose is similar to the natural levulose- the levorotatory D form of the base chemical is identical-, but refined fructose lacks amino acids, vitamins, minerals, pectin and fiber and is processed in the liver instead of the intestines.

          You cannot tap an agave plant to get fructose, it requires conversion via heat and enzymes to break it down.

          To say “enzymes” instead of “chemicals” sounds better but you are adding a chemical- the aspergillus mold produces the particular chemical used to produce agave syrup.

          The piña is the core of the agave with the leaves chopped off. Still is converted to a high fructose syrup which causes you to lay down fat. And agave syrup often contains more fructose than High Fructose Corn Syrup.

  15. glutenfreegirl
    January 7, 2010 | 2:52 pm

    This piece confirms what I have been suspecting about agave nectar. We’re not buying it anymore. http://su.pr/2sqBSO (via @broylesa)

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  16. Katie
    January 7, 2010 | 2:54 pm

    Esteban already said it, but I was under the impression that Rami Nagel’s writings had been pretty thoroughly debunked. He was completely correct about an agave product that was popular in the 90s, but it’s not the same product that is sold today. But I haven’t personally been to the agave nectar/syrup factories to see for myself, so I can’t say either way for certain.

    • KristenM
      January 7, 2010 | 2:58 pm

      Katie — Please see my reply to Esteban above.

  17. urusai
    January 7, 2010 | 2:57 pm

    > Unlike man-made fructose, levulose contains enzymes, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and fruit pectin. No, it does not. Rather, it comes along with those things when you eat fresh fruit.

    This comment was originally posted on Reddit

  18. fiery_jennyrose
    January 7, 2010 | 2:59 pm

    @TheFertileSoul Can you confirm this negative news about agave nectar? http://su.pr/2sqBSO

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  19. trendymartini
    January 7, 2010 | 2:59 pm

    Very interesting. . RT @CalorieGirl: RT @glutenfreegirl http://su.pr/2sqBSO

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  20. ncsuemme
    January 7, 2010 | 3:00 pm

    @IAmJennBee hah googled it. but last job, worked with/raw foodist, so i learned a bit. recent article about agave -> http://su.pr/2sqBSO

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  21. clearawakening
    January 7, 2010 | 3:02 pm

    Research what you eat! RT @glutenfreegirl: This confirms what I have been suspecting about agave nectar. http://su.pr/2sqBSO (via @broylesa)

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  22. cyberdelia333
    January 7, 2010 | 3:03 pm

    Great stuff in this post! RT @FoodRenegade: Agave nectar: Good or Bad? http://su.pr/2sqBSO Answer: bad!

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  23. MReaux
    January 7, 2010 | 3:06 pm

    This piece confirms what I have been suspecting about agave nectar. We’re not buying it anymore. http://su.pr/2sqBSO (via @glutenfreegirl)

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  24. Éireen
    January 7, 2010 | 3:07 pm

    Wow – very informative. Any thoughts about palm sugar (made from coconuts)?

  25. ddot_
    January 7, 2010 | 3:08 pm

    This piece confirms what I have been suspecting about agave nectar. We’re not buying it anymore. http://su.pr/2sqBSO /via @glutenfreegirl

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  26. FJK
    January 7, 2010 | 3:15 pm

    I had no idea. I had been using it since I thought it was “better” for me. I have health issues that agave nectar would definitely worsen. THanks for the clear write up.
    I did notice it was becoming more widely available and that some brands include HFCS in the ingredients so I’ve gotten more careful about what one I purchased.
    .-= FJK´s last blog post …2009 in Review — With Lots of Recipes and No Angst =-.

  27. GleanerGirl
    January 7, 2010 | 3:17 pm

    Woah…didn’t know this about agave nectar. Thought it was naturally derived & not messed with. http://su.pr/2sqBSO (via @glutenfreegirl)

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  28. mwidner
    January 7, 2010 | 3:26 pm

    Agave, may be *worse* than hi fructose corn syrup: RT @dancingdivala: RT @foodrenegade Agave Nectar: Good or Bad? http://tinyurl.com/ygctwr5

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  29. EatCleanLiveGrn
    January 7, 2010 | 3:29 pm

    Very interesting! Agave Nectar – not a miracle health food. http://su.pr/2sqBSO (via @glutenfreegirl)

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  30. egoistetx
    January 7, 2010 | 3:46 pm

    OMG This is why I’m fat. Agave Nectar: Good or Bad? | Food Renegade http://j.mp/6ywxsL

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  31. Cyberdelia
    January 7, 2010 | 3:46 pm

    Wow–thanks for the post! Am a newer reader of your site & love it. While the agave info is interesting (I’ve never used it, and now won’t ever!), it’s the fructose part that really got my attention. Just made a few things “click.” Explains a lot to me. Great stuff. :)
    .-= Cyberdelia´s last blog post …Quitting diet soda: Aspartame withdrawals =-.

  32. Meagan
    January 7, 2010 | 4:00 pm

    WOW – this is so great! Thank you for giving us the facts and saying it square. I have been wondering about this topic for a while but don’t have time to do oodles of research. Now I want to go throw all of mine out!
    .-= Meagan´s last blog post …Cherry and White Chocolate Scones =-.

  33. may1girl
    January 7, 2010 | 4:37 pm

    @101cookbooks Have you seen the arguments against agave syrup. What’s your take on it? http://ow.ly/TOLA

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  34. Rachel B
    January 7, 2010 | 4:52 pm

    WTF? I keep reading that it’s low on the glycemic index and good for us. Maybe it depends on who is paying for the research. It’s so confusing.

    • KristenM
      January 7, 2010 | 5:10 pm

      Rachel B — Well it is low on the glycemic index because it contains such a high percentage of fructose. That’s spun by marketing people as being a good thing because it keeps your blood sugar levels more stable than something spiked with other refined sweeteners.

      That said, just because it has a low glycemic index doesn’t mean it’s healthy. It doesn’t mean it’s a real, traditional food that people have been consuming for thousands of years.

      It’s funny how the health food marketers demonize high fructose corn syrup for containing so much fructose, but then they worship agave nectar for containing even more fructose. They need to make up their minds. Which is it? Is highly concentrated fructose “natural” and “good” for you, or is it actually linked to increasing risks for heart disease & diabetes?

      Independent research has clearly shown concentrated fructose is dangerous. Plus we have the witness of nature and thousands of years of human diet. There are no examples of highly concentrated fructose in nature; any truly natural occurrence of fructose (i.e. levulose) is also joined with other vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and fiber that prohibits it from being digested in the liver. Plus, why would I want to eat a food that has only been around since the 1990s? Why would I want to experiment with my body, my health, my children’s health that way?

    • Karen Vaughan, L.Ac.
      August 1, 2013 | 10:13 pm

      The glycemic index only measures glucose, not other natural sugars like fructose or lactose. That is fine if you are comparing, say, different kinds of beans, but it is only part of the story. All of these sugars cause blood insulin to spike, resulting in insulin resistance and eventually diabetes. Fructose is particularly problematic because it stresses the liver, increases fat deposits and produces purines that cause gout.

  35. darladavidson
    January 7, 2010 | 5:42 pm

    @nutritionbytes Did you see this? http://bit.ly/5TbbEI I’m curious to know your thoughts.

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  36. Ecologystudent
    January 7, 2010 | 5:59 pm

    I read up on agave syrup the first time someone mentioned it, and I knew right away that it was something to steer clear of. I wonder how many people would stop buying it if they did just the barest amount of research into it? As it is, I am annoyed at people for advertising it as being a health food, with special cook books, and the like to promote it. Thanks for such a detailed, well researched post, I learned a few bits that I didn’t know already.
    .-= Ecologystudent´s last blog post …Why monocropping is a paradigm of failure for the farmer =-.

  37. Rachel B
    January 7, 2010 | 6:42 pm

    Hmmm, all this time I’ve been following Elana’s Pantry for what I thought were healthy gluten-free recipes and most call for agave. This is a real eye-opener for me.

  38. Chelsey
    January 7, 2010 | 7:02 pm

    This is what I was thinking all along. Thank-You researching into this matter.
    .-= Chelsey´s last blog post …Tilapia Topped with Citrus Salsa =-.

  39. real_food_mama
    January 7, 2010 | 7:31 pm

    For those of you using Agave nectar as a sweetener! Some interesting info! http://www.foodrenegade.com/agave-nectar-good-or-bad/#more-1576

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  40. iamgf
    January 7, 2010 | 7:37 pm

    Agave Nectar is not natural and organic? No way! : ( More research required. http://bit.ly/67NpMS

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

    • KristenM
      January 7, 2010 | 8:16 pm

      Just to clarify: if it’s labeled “organic,” then it is certified organic. I never said anything to the contrary. Nevertheless, buying organic agave nectar is as good as buying organic high fructose corn syrup. In other words, who cares that it’s organic when it’s so otherwise bad for you?

  41. Elizabeth @ The Nourished Life
    January 7, 2010 | 8:12 pm

    Thanks for posting this. I’ve heard some really negative information about fructose. The average diet a hundred years ago contained only a few daily grams of fructose sugar. With sodas, fruit juices and new sweeteners like agave nectar, that number is much, much higher now – which probably plays a large role in the rapidly increasing presense of disease in our society.
    .-= Elizabeth @ The Nourished Life´s last blog post …Weight Loss Wednesday: What kind of weight do you want to lose? =-.

    • KristenM
      January 7, 2010 | 8:19 pm

      Elizabeth — You’re so very right! Statistics show that anywhere from 10-33% of the calories consumed in the average American’s diet comes from fructose. It’s downright ridiculous when you realize that naturally occurring fructose (levulose) was so very rare in traditional diets (fruits only available seasonally, etc.).

  42. livinglocalnh
    January 7, 2010 | 8:15 pm

    Never jumped on Agave nectar bandwagon. This sums up why http://su.pr/2sqBSO From @FoodRenegade #realfood

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  43. cheeseslave
    January 7, 2010 | 8:24 pm

    Agave nectar: Not a natural sweetener & not good for us! http://ow.ly/TStI @FoodRenegade

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  44. brandycormier
    January 7, 2010 | 8:28 pm

    {glad I didn’t jump on that bandwagon!} RT @cheeseslave: Agave nectar: Not a natural sweetener & not good for us! http://ow.ly/TStI

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  45. YSpaceSolutions
    January 7, 2010 | 8:42 pm

    Very sad! RT@broylesa This piece confirms what I have been suspecting about agave nectar. We’re not buying it anymore. http://su.pr/2sqBSO

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  46. raising_arrows
    January 7, 2010 | 8:49 pm

    R U serious? Ah man! RT @cheeseslave: Agave nectar: Not a natural sweetener & not good for us! http://ow.ly/TStI

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  47. Virginia
    January 7, 2010 | 8:58 pm

    Thanks for this article – I’ve been enjoying your blog for the last month or so – I was excited to see this post, and I’m really glad I read it. I had no idea about the full story of agave. Thank you so much!

  48. Amy
    January 7, 2010 | 9:02 pm

    When Wise Traditions published their article about agave earlier in 2009 I thought it was excellent, but you have done an even better job of stating the facts more clearly and more succinctly. This was an extremely informative article. I have never been on the bandwagon of agave, but never really knew enough to explain WHY. Your article makes it clear. And the few questions I had after reading, you answered here in the comments. Thanks for replying to your commenters — those little bits of info are valuable too!! Now I can forward this link to friends who tell me that in spite of the processing methods they will continue to use agave because they don’t get that “sugar rush”. Hopefully this will help make all of that clear. Thanks again.

    • KristenM
      January 8, 2010 | 2:37 pm

      Aw shucks, Amy. Thanks for the compliment. I’m always super-tempted to go back and add things to my posts after people bring up questions in the comments. Sometimes I do (like I did with my article on the Dangers of Soy), but other times I just assume people who are really curious will also read the discussion below.

  49. foodiethenew40
    January 7, 2010 | 9:52 pm

    This bums me out. RT @broylesa RT @FoodRenegade: Agave nectar: Good or Bad? The definitive answer: http://su.pr/2sqBSO

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  50. Lucy
    January 7, 2010 | 9:56 pm

    It would appear that agave is simply HFCS by another name……namely, high fructose CACTUS syrup!

    • Crosswind
      May 28, 2013 | 3:35 pm

      Lucy, Excellent Name for it!!!!!!

  51. laurakelso
    January 7, 2010 | 10:12 pm

    And I thought I was being so virtuous…RT @FoodRenegade: Agave nectar: Good or Bad? The definitive answer: http://su.pr/2sqBSO

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  52. BLeGrandFromage
    January 7, 2010 | 10:16 pm

    Must Read! RT @foodrenegade Agave Nectar: Good or Bad? http://tinyurl.com/ygctwr5

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  53. ChefDaddy42
    January 8, 2010 | 1:09 am

    Interesting info on agave nectar- it’s made from starch, similar to HFCS: Good or Bad? http://tinyurl.com/ygctwr5 (via @Star_Chefs)

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  54. Verandahopper
    January 8, 2010 | 3:06 am

    For seb RT @glutenfreegirl: This piece confirms what I have been suspecting about agave nectar. http://su.pr/2sqBSO

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  55. DansMum06
    January 8, 2010 | 3:08 am

    Reading @foodrenegade Agave Nectar: Good or Bad? http://tinyurl.com/ygctwr5

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  56. danrmeix
    January 8, 2010 | 7:28 am

    agave nectar good or bad http://www.foodrenegade.com/agave-nectar-good-or-bad/

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  57. Chuck O
    January 8, 2010 | 7:35 am

    Is there any alternatives you would recommend?

    Good Stuff as always!!

  58. CardamomsPod
    January 8, 2010 | 10:39 am

    Interesting – especially since I just bought my first (and last) gallon of agave nectar… http://bit.ly/67NpMS

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  59. Tracey R
    January 8, 2010 | 11:10 am

    I run a menu planning service for those with metabolic syndrome and/or gluten-free eating who want to do a whole-foods, nutrient-dense and traditional nutrition approach. I don’t use a lot of sweeteners of any kind, but had to around Christmas and Thanksgiving, and for barbecue etc. What I normally use is stevia. Lo han guo is also good, but a lot more expensive and tends to have a maply taste–great in BBQ but not so much in Key Lime Cheesecake! Stevia also makes your body’s cells more sensitive to insulin, which is something they loose as your metabolic syndrome advances towards diabetes.

    Maybe someday I can go back to eating raw honey and local maple syrup, as two of my three kids can do. I know that in the last year of eating stevia, I’ve noticed I seem to be less insulin-resistant.
    .-= Tracey R´s last blog post …Menu for The Week of January 9, 2010 =-.

  60. Martha
    January 8, 2010 | 11:18 am

    Great informative post. Thank you!

  61. TonyHarion
    January 8, 2010 | 11:47 am

    Reading: is Agave Nectar: Good or Bad? http://bit.ly/8RzYbJ – via @DrinkBoy

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  62. Darcy S. O'Neil
    January 8, 2010 | 11:54 am

    I’m at odds with your statements on fructose. Please look at these additional pieces of research to understand the whole picture, instead of spreading myths.

    1. Twenty-four-hour endocrine and metabolic profiles following consumption of high-fructose corn syrup-, sucrose-, fructose-, and glucose-sweetened beverages with meals.[American Journal of Clinical Nutrition May 2008] Stanhope KL, Griffen SC, Bair BR, Swarbrick MM, Keim NL, Havel PJ.

    2. No differences in satiety or energy intake after high-fructose corn syrup, sucrose, or milk preloads. .[American Journal of Clinical Nutrition December 2007] Soenen S, Westerterp-Plantenga MS

    3. Sugars and satiety: does the type of sweetener make a difference? [American Journal of Clinical Nutrition July 2007] Monsivais P, Perrigue MM, Drewnowski A.

    4. Effects of high-fructose corn syrup and sucrose consumption on circulating glucose, insulin, leptin, and ghrelin and on appetite in normal-weight women. [Nutrition February 2007] Melanson KJ, Zukley L, Lowndes J, Nguyen V, Angelopoulos TJ, Rippe JM.

    5. A critical examination of the evidence relating high fructose corn syrup and weight gain. [2007]

    6. Intake of sugar-sweetened beverages and weight gain: a systematic review.

    7. Consumption of high-fructose corn syrup in beverages may play a role in the epidemic of obesity. [Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 2004] Bray GA, Nielsen SJ, Popkin BM.
    .-= Darcy S. O’Neil´s last blog post …Making Clear Ice – Part 2 of 3 =-.

    • KristenM
      January 8, 2010 | 2:35 pm

      Hi Darcy — A couple of thoughts.

      1) I’m not concerned with the immediate metabolic profiles of people consuming fructose. As I’ve already stated, it’s clear that fructose doesn’t raise blood glucose levels. What does concern me is what consumption of fructose does to metabolic processes after regular consumption for the long term. (And in this regard, I think the evidence is quite damning.)

      2) Even if fructose were totally sanctioned by every scientific study out there (which it isn’t), I’d still have qualms about consuming it in such unnatural amounts and ways. As I wrote in my post, concentrated fructose is not found in nature. It is not a traditional food that people have been eating for thousands of years. In nature, it always comes attached to things like fiber, pectin, vitamins, minerals, etc. These things cause nature’s fructose (which I refer to as “levulose” in my post so as to avoid confusing the two) to be digested in a way that’s not harmful to us, but rather according to our natural design.

  63. Ian
    January 8, 2010 | 2:37 pm

    Would like to second the question about what is the least-bad sweetener to put in my coffee or smoothie? Agave, refined sugar, “raw” sugar, brown sugar, honey, maple syrup? Stevia?

    • KristenM
      January 8, 2010 | 2:43 pm

      Ha(!) At least you’re on the right track when you ask for the “least bad” option instead of the best!

      I personally use fruit in smoothies. If none of my fruits are particularly sweet, I might add a dab of raw honey.

      In coffee, I add sucanat (about the least refined sugar you can buy in the U.S.).

      In tea, I mix in stevia leaves with my tea leaves and find that’s generally sufficient. Most of the time I don’t sweeten my tea at all, but some teas really call for it.

      The “why” for all these sweeteners has to do with how their tastes blend with the particular beverage I’m drinking. I don’t like honey in my coffee, for example, although some people do.

      Hope this helps!

      • MarlonM
        July 28, 2012 | 6:40 am

        Lmao so let me get this straight. Don’t use 100% percent Pure Agave Syrup made by a NATURAL plant, not one created by europeans(carrots,wheat,white potatoes etc), but use raw BEE VOMIT from a species shrinking in numbers every year. Agave syrup is fine when combined with other organic natural alkaline foods.

  64. Ian
    January 8, 2010 | 3:12 pm

    Yes it does help, thanks!

  65. tina
    January 8, 2010 | 4:04 pm

    I use raw honey when a sweetener is needed. The exception is ice cream. I use palm sugar for my homemade ice cream. What are your thoughts on palm sugar?

  66. Walter Jeffries
    January 8, 2010 | 6:15 pm

    “Think of it as the Mexican version of authentic Canadian Vermont maple syrup.”
    :)

    I’ve never heard of agave before so I’ll stick with honey and Vermont maple syrup since we can produce those.

  67. Walter Jeffries
    January 8, 2010 | 6:16 pm

    Hmm… the strike out for Canadian HTML didn’t work… :)

  68. Rosie Ramazani
    January 8, 2010 | 7:43 pm

    another wonderfood bites the dust.

    This comment was originally posted on FriendFeed

  69. SongCroft
    January 8, 2010 | 10:33 pm

    Is agave syrup good for us? http://www.foodrenegade.com/agave-nectar-good-or-bad/

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  70. lisa
    January 9, 2010 | 12:40 am

    What are your thoughts on brown rice syrup?

  71. Anna
    January 9, 2010 | 11:25 pm

    Great post! I ruffled a lot of feathers the past two years in person and online when I told people agave syrup was bad news, but frankly, most people don’t want their bubble burst. Ignorance is bless, eh? When it comes to concentrated sugars of any source, there is simply no “free lunch”.

    Concentrated fructose is metabolized by the liver much the same as alcohol. Dr. Lustig has a great lecture video on YouTube that explains in very easy language the biochemistry of fructose metabolism in the liver (table sugar is 50% glucose/50% fructose – after separation the glucose goes into the blood stream and cells and the fructose goes to the liver and is turned into triglycerides – fat). I love Dr. Lustig’s phrase “beer without the buzz”. If the parents who serve their kids agave, sugar, HFCS sweetened beverage (or “100% fruit juice”) only knew how much that concentrated sugar stresses their kids’ livers… essentially creating human foie gras.

    • Ginny
      June 23, 2011 | 2:04 pm

      Oooh!

  72. threeblue
    January 10, 2010 | 8:15 pm

    Reading @foodrenegade Agave Nectar: Good or Bad? http://tinyurl.com/ygctwr5

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  73. redvoid
    January 11, 2010 | 11:40 am

    Food Renengade tackles question of healthiness of Agave Nectar and comes to disappointing conclusion http://bit.ly/6OT5Sl

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  74. Yaznotthepill
    January 11, 2010 | 5:50 pm

    @TheDelicious Some agave nectar info http://bit.ly/5TbbEI

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  75. ActiveFoodie
    January 11, 2010 | 6:06 pm

    @TheDelicious ive been using agave a lot, but recently saw these articles http://su.pr/2sqBSO http://bit.ly/5RHvII

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  76. Punkin_and_Pom
    January 11, 2010 | 7:22 pm

    I wish people would understand that Agave nectar is NOT healthy! http://www.foodrenegade.com/agave-nectar-good-or-bad/

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  77. sara_heartburn
    January 12, 2010 | 9:27 am

    Agave Nectar: Good or Bad? | Food Renegade: http://bit.ly/7z1RDV

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  78. carolinegodin
    January 13, 2010 | 3:06 am

    @kirstiealley agave nectar bad! http://www.foodrenegade.com/agave-nectar-good-or-bad/

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  79. carolinegodin
    January 13, 2010 | 3:06 am

    @niavardalos Ack! Agave nectar is bad. And not natural! http://www.foodrenegade.com/agave-nectar-good-or-bad/

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  80. carolinegodin
    January 13, 2010 | 3:07 am

    @JillianMichaels Is the fact that agave is BAD and not NATURAL a revelation? http://www.foodrenegade.com/agave-nectar-good-or-bad/

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  81. CosmicGirlnDC
    January 13, 2010 | 1:19 pm

    So, agave nectar is not healthy, not natural, and on par with high fructose corn syrup? http://bit.ly/68m5×0

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  82. babytimebags
    January 13, 2010 | 1:40 pm

    Really ?!? RT @CosmicGirlnDC So, agave nectar is not healthy, not natural, and on par with high fructose corn syrup? http://bit.ly/68m5×0

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  83. percussivebunny
    January 13, 2010 | 10:07 pm

    well, the agave nectar bottle i have will be the last bottle i buy: http://www.foodrenegade.com/agave-nectar-good-or-bad/

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  84. audiblevideo
    January 13, 2010 | 11:32 pm

    Reading @foodrenegade Agave Nectar: Good or Bad? http://tinyurl.com/ygctwr5

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  85. sanctimony
    January 14, 2010 | 12:04 am

    oh wow: rt @percussivebunny well, the agave nectar bottle i have will be the last bottle i buy: http://bit.ly/68m5×0

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  86. goodnessis
    January 15, 2010 | 12:32 am

    Reading @foodrenegade Agave Nectar: Good or Bad? http://tinyurl.com/ygctwr5 Scary stuff!

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  87. thoughtfoodblog
    January 15, 2010 | 7:50 am

    VERY interesting post on agave nectar, which includes clear explanations on the danger of refined sugar: http://bit.ly/68m5×0

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  88. nakedsushi
    January 15, 2010 | 4:32 pm

    Didn’t know this, but apparently agave nectar isn’t as healthy as I thought. It has more fructose than corn syrup! http://bit.ly/68m5×0

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  89. Psychic Lunch
    January 17, 2010 | 10:51 am

    I haven’t gotten around to saying it yet, so: Thanks, Kristen! I don’t use agave syrup – just never got into it, really. It’s so good to have an analysis all summed up like this.

    -Dan
    .-= Psychic Lunch´s last blog post …Not all foods are superfoods! =-.

  90. dotslady
    January 17, 2010 | 2:17 pm

    I’m a fat celiac, not diabetic (yet) who experimented with agave when it came out (raw food recipe: cocoa powder, agave, avocado): my blood glucose soared. No more agave. I was very confused by the hype all these years, so THANK YOU KRISTEN for backing up my own “science.” I’m amused by people and their penchant for sweets, and how far they’ll go to get it disguised by any other name. I have learned to live without sugars (except some good old fruit once in a while).

  91. Szig
    January 17, 2010 | 10:14 pm

    Thank you for the link on agave nectar. I have totally thought it was the maple syrup of Mexico and now I’ve got two bottles to get rid of. I feel like Trader Joe’s has mislead me!

    This comment was originally posted on shelterrific

  92. Catherine Rott ND, DNM
    January 18, 2010 | 4:20 pm

    I need someone to comment on the fact that tequila is made from blue agave…how does this relate? http://www.blueagaverestaurant.com/tequila.html
    My son, who is a bartender, said that folks usually have a much worse hangover from tequila than from other liquors. Could this be a reason? Thanks in advance.

  93. Megan B.
    January 18, 2010 | 4:43 pm

    I feel ya on the agave, Szig. I’m still not sure about it’s health benefits myself, but I’ll still use it in my vegan baking because it’s a great honey substitute. I just try and take it easy on the sweet stuff, no matter what…

    This comment was originally posted on shelterrific

  94. Dewyleaf
    January 19, 2010 | 2:16 am

    @LegendarySucker Here’s decent synopsis of issues w/it: http://tinyurl.com/ygctwr5 have to be careful when look on net. 2 much misinfo.

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  95. Bodynsoil
    January 19, 2010 | 5:42 am

    @Dewyleaf @LegendarySucker I had read that about Agave being a bad source for sugar as well, http://tinyurl.com/ygctwr5

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  96. hatched
    January 19, 2010 | 9:58 am

    Agave nectar: organic, natural and better than sugar? Think again: http://bit.ly/67NpMS

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  97. RipplemakerZoe
    January 20, 2010 | 5:30 pm

    Did u hear about Agave Nectar? It’s almost as same as HFCS. Here is why @foodrenegade Agave Nectar: Good or Bad? http://tinyurl.com/ygctwr5

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  98. Stephanie
    January 22, 2010 | 11:43 pm

    I really enjoyed this article… I myself have been buying raw agave from Wholesome Sweeteners. I checked their web site and it states that their production process is to heat the liquid collected from the agave pina’s until it turns from inulin to fructose, then it’s carbon-filtered, and then filtered through diatomaceous earth (interesting, I use that stuff to kill slugs in the garden! :-)). I do recognize that this might be one of those situations where they’re just telling part of the story, but if this truly is the process, it doesn’t sound too bad to me… that being said, I have always considered agave to be more or less the same as sugar. I like the way it tastes.
    .-= Stephanie´s last blog post …Snack? =-.

  99. Kris
    January 26, 2010 | 1:50 pm

    I just called Wholesome sweetner and their response was, that they process it with no chemicals. They are certified organic and cannot use chemicals. And that there is an article that has been recycled from the 90′s and it is not true. There processing plant is in Mexico, are we able to trust that??

    • KristenM
      January 26, 2010 | 3:03 pm

      Kris — Even companies that process it with no chemicals need to process it with enzymes in order to break the inulin down into fructose. It’s still refined, still not something you could make in your own kitchen, still higher in fructose than high fructose corn syrup, and still not a traditional food.

  100. RadiantLux
    January 27, 2010 | 11:28 am

    It is sad because the stuff is really yummy. I read Dr. Mike Eades’ post, where said “avoid it like death”. (http://www.proteinpower.com/drmike/saturated-fat/food-trends-from-expo-west/)

    “Agave
    Agave was the big new product this year. Last year there were a few vendors; this year they were everywhere. They were selling agave syrup, agave nectar, agave crystals, agave this and agave that. An entire other group of vendors was promoting various products sweetened with agave. For those of you who don’t know, agave is the latest entry into the caloric-sweetener sweepstakes. It comes in a variety of forms – syrup, nectar, crystals – from the agave plant, a succulent plant found mainly in Mexico. The claim to fame of this sweetener, which was emblazoned on banners, literature, labels and just about everywhere, is that it is a low-glycemic sweetener. And it is was being touted as a great food for diabetics and any others with glucose-intolerance problems. And it is indeed low-glycemic because it is composed of about 90 percent fructose. If you think high-fructose corn syrup is bad at 55 percent fructose, just imagine what Agave syrup can do for you. Yet all these ignorant people are ga ga over it as if it were the second coming. My advice is to avoid it like death. But be prepared to be seeing it everywhere.”

    Still, it wasn’t enoough for me. Your post explained fructose, compared it to HFCS and that it is really a processed food. Sometimes I have to read things more than once, in many places to really believe it.
    Thanks!

  101. theweblady
    February 11, 2010 | 5:41 pm

    Thank you so much for posting this! It bums me out but I would have never known this if it wasn’t because of your article. Thanks for giving us the better options too! Succanat and Stevia will now replace my Agave.

  102. Ms. Davis
    February 19, 2010 | 12:58 pm

    Thanks so much for the informative article. My nutritionist told me this, so I’m glad to see that the word is getting out to the public that are interested! Who wants to add more weight & problems to those we already have!!!

  103. Newfiegirl
    March 4, 2010 | 9:06 am

    Great article! As a nurse working with people with liver disease I found this very interesting esp the fatty visceral deposit issue!!

  104. maria
    March 15, 2010 | 10:48 am

    Thank you for your informative article on Agave Nector.

    We have a question about inulin after reading the article on whether it is OK or just a way companies are hiding HFCS. The new Kirkland yogurt made by Dannon doesn’t have HFCS or artificial sweetener but does have inulin. We mix it with a plain yogurt to lower the sugar we are getting. What is your opinion?

  105. Jess
    March 19, 2010 | 6:57 pm

    I do a lot of baking and use agave in many of my goodies (because it doesn’t involve any animal cruelty like honey does). I recently had a friend say that he heard a rumor that agave was “as bad as HFCS,” so I began researching it. Of course, I have found approximately the same number of pieces of information on both sides of the issue, so I’m still not sure what to believe.

    So, in an attempt to attain some clarification on this issue, do you have any comments, for instance, on the Sweetener Comparison Chart found here? http://blog.xagave.com/the-truth-about-agave-it-is-a-great-alternative-to-sugar-honey-and-other-natural-sweeteners/

    Thanks!

  106. Curious
    March 25, 2010 | 12:37 am

    I’m wondering what you think about Stevia? I’ve tried finding something about it on your website. Trying to get all this straight.

    Thanks!

  107. Lillea Woodlyns
    March 25, 2010 | 7:17 am

    I’ve noticed that agave syrup is being used in an increasing number of ‘health’ foods. Be just to check labels – you might be surprised to find that it’s in some of the foods that you buy – foods that used to contain honey or other traditional sweeteners.

    I was given the supposedly best brand of agave syrup, mentioned in one of the comments here, and I didn’t care for the taste or mouth feel so it has not been tempting for me to eat it. I tend to side with the anti-agave position, but I would like to see more studies on fructose consumption in humans – well designed tightly controlled metabolic ward studies to make sure that people truly are being compliant with the foods that are being tested.
    .-= Lillea Woodlyns´s last blog post …Gluten Free Oats? =-.

  108. Chris
    April 11, 2010 | 1:32 am

    OMG!!! I’ve been using agave for a few months now and am hunting down a store receipt to take a brand new bottle of back first thing in the morning….

  109. Christy
    April 16, 2010 | 7:29 pm

    Kristen, what about brown rice syrup as an alternative to sugar?

  110. Elise
    May 14, 2010 | 4:05 pm

    L O V E this article, a great summary on the myths/truths behind agave! Will be sharing this with everyone I know! :)
    .-= Elise´s last blog post …Nut & Seed Protein Bars =-.

  111. Rhonda
    June 18, 2010 | 10:08 am

    Great article, read it while sitting with my tea sweetened with agave nectar in front of me. Dumped the tea, made a new cup with local honey. I’m passing this along to everyone I know!

  112. Kyle
    July 24, 2010 | 6:32 pm

    Perhaps clarification of the use of agave as a “non-traditional” food source would be helpful. The Aztecs, the Toltecs before them and the Olmecs before them (were going back thousands of years here) have been eating the juice of agave – they do indeed call it nectar down there – in various forms (usually fermented) for thousands of years. For you Nourishing/Wise Tradition fans – one of the most common forms is pulque, which ferments naturally from wild cultures and has an alcohol content similar to beer. Others used naturally occurring enzymes to stabilize it as well as boiling as Kristen mentioned. All are various types of processing, things humans have done to food for millennia. There are over 200 species of agave and seemingly as many ways to prepare it and use it as a food, drink or fiber. Agave was the first major crop the Spaniards grew after the conquest of the Aztecs; not for the nectar but for the fiber (sisal) – to make rope. This crop gave birth to slavery in the Americas (the Mayans were the first slaves). Sisal proved to be far superior to the Manila fiber they had been using.

  113. Lisa
    July 31, 2010 | 7:24 pm

    Thank you so much for this informative article on Agave Nectar! I started buying it a few months ago, and have gone through a bottle and a half. I’ve not used it in excess…maybe two teaspoons at a time, but still! I will not be using it anymore, but I really appreciated the explanation about why it’s touted as having a low glycemic load in the body and how it gets processed differently from glucose and actually causes triglycerides to be formed and causes our body to store the bad type of fat! Thanks, again!!! Wow..

  114. Christine
    August 10, 2010 | 2:06 pm

    I too thought it was a reasonable thing to use – then I started to research it and decided not to use it anymore. The defining moment, however was a friend’s daughter has type 1 diabetes – they used a small amount in a recipe that they had made before but with raw honey – her sugar went through the roof and it took them hours to get it back down. Scary stuff. No thanks.
    .-= Christine´s last blog post …I Never Knew I Needed an iPad =-.

  115. Vast Majority
    August 10, 2010 | 7:57 pm

    The article is a little misleading. Not all Agave Nectars have a fructose level greater than the typical HFCS. Check out this chart: http://www.globalgoods.com/agavenectar.html

    Even plain table sugar metabolises to about 50% fructose. Some Agave Nectars have less than that!

    Nevertheless, some Agave Nectar is very very bad, but not all.

  116. Vast Majority
    August 10, 2010 | 8:12 pm

    Oh, and additionally, not all Agave Nectar uses chemicals in their production process:

    The Volcanic Nectar Brand is Organic, Kosher, and Raw and uses the following process:
    The leaves are removed from the plant which bares the base of the plant 1/2 above and 1/2 below the ground. The agave base is then removed and taken to a facility to where it is heated to no more than 118 degrees F to get the juices flowing. The base or ball of the plant is then chopped up, filtered, sent through a centrifuge and poured into the bottles you get today. There are other less expensive ways to produce the agave in a faster way, but Volcanic Nectar prefers the more traditional methods for health reasons.

  117. Amy
    September 8, 2010 | 10:23 pm

    Levulose is just the old name for d-fructose. Why not call it d-fructose?

  118. Pat
    September 22, 2010 | 3:28 pm

    Perhaps you mean well, however, your article and comments are misleading and not 100% accurate. It might be a good idea to do a lot more research and consult professionals (doctors, chemists) before publishing advice about what people should eat. A lot of educated and knowledgeable people in the field of medicine refute your information and your sources are questionable. You aren’t even qualifying your remarks as “in my opinion” or “to the best of my knowledge” or “what is currently known” you are promoting this as the definitive truth. Which it isn’t.

    • KristenM
      September 24, 2010 | 7:49 pm

      Indeed I qualify every remark on this site with those sorts of statements. In the sidebar, please read the section labeled “Read This.” You’ll see these words:

      Information found on the FoodRenegade site is meant to motivate you to make your own health care and dietary decisions based upon your own research and in partnership with your health care provider. It should not be relied upon to determine dietary changes, a medical diagnosis or courses of treatment.

      Any statements or claims about the possible health benefits conferred by any foods or supplements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

      Of course, I also blog with integrity, meaning that I don’t write anything I don’t actually believe. My goal is to be as well-informed as I can be and then share my knowledge and passion. As it is with any information you come across, it’s up to you, the reader, to decide what you think about what I think.

      • Pat
        September 27, 2010 | 12:35 pm

        Great reply. However, I didn’t see any of those qualifying statements in the agave or soy articles. In fact, you state “soy will destroy your thyroid” without citing any proof. There is a difference between “educate” and “manipulate.” Oh, and thanks for your definition of “blog with integrity.” As long as you believe it then it must be true.

        • lynn marie
          October 10, 2010 | 12:28 pm

          after years of drinking Soy Silk products, every day, i was finally diagnosed with Hypothyroidism, for which i must take medication every day for the rest of my life. There ya go. You decide. I would say thats plenty proof.

          • Gus
            April 16, 2011 | 10:21 am

            That is not even remotely proof. The only thing it proves is that you have hyperthyroidism and used to drink soy milk. That doesn’t mean one caused the other.

            • Crosswind
              May 28, 2013 | 3:57 pm

              Gus, Soy milk is junk and processed at high temps. Mike Adams did a video (youtube) about Most Soy today in the USA is processed with HEXANE chemical. MANY people get lowered thyroid from soy and it affects their hormones & pms etc.

              Had a holistic teacher who had stage 4 breast cancer who went Paleo with her holistic treatment instead of chemo or radiation. Her past diet included A LOT of soy. Her story is only one of MANY I’ve heard from people i have met because soy it estrogenic. Not to mention over 90% of soy today is GMO.

              Also look up the Florida and Illinois prisoners that developed many symptoms & disorders after they replaced their protein with SOY. One even had to have part of his colon removed and some developed hypo-thyroid.

              • Crosswind
                May 28, 2013 | 4:00 pm

                Even Organic Soy is estrogenic and affects my hormones. I noticed that when I started eating soy even in my 20s. I even tried organic fermented soy recently. Tofu does not digest well for me or my husband. And Organic Soy yogurt affects hormones negatively (hot flashes & worsens PMS.

  119. Thx2Ed
    September 25, 2010 | 11:36 am

    Thank you for the information. I just purchased Madhava version from Wal-Mart, which seems to only sell the worst of food. I made the purchase this morning, and did a google search to read what it was before consumption, and am now glad I did. Time to get my receipt and take it back.

    thanks!

  120. LW Catering
    September 27, 2010 | 3:16 am

    I always loved it and thought it was great. We learn something new every day…
    .-= LW Catering´s last blog post …Catering Business Sacramento Area – BBQ &amp Soul Food Cooking =-.

  121. Vast Majority
    September 28, 2010 | 11:06 pm

    Kristen, I think the problem some of us have with your “article” is that you make UNTRUE blanket statements such as this:

    “agave nectar is not a ‘natural sweetener.’ Plus, it has more concentrated fructose in it than high fructose corn syrup.”

    Did you read my posts above? Did you follow the link and look at the chart?

    Yes it IS true that many agave nectors are poor choices, but if you do some actual research you’ll see that THERE REALLY ARE SOME GOOD HEALTHY NATURAL AGAVE NECTARS AVAILABLE . Again, refer to my above posts!

    A more honest appraisal from you would have said something like:
    “SOME agave nectars shouldn’t qualify as a ‘natural sweetener.’ Plus, many brands (but not all) have more concentrated fructose in it than high fructose corn syrup.”

    • lynn marie
      October 10, 2010 | 12:39 pm

      vast majority,

      I think what you are saying is spot on. I do beleive there are good agave nectars out there too, but do you know of any other sources to purchase the good stuff? I do work for a raw food chef, so I know a bit about this subject. She uses the Raw, Organic, Blue Agave by Wholesome Sweetners, distributed in Sugar Land Tx of all places! It says its a product of Mexico and certified organic. I have my doubts however.

      • notmybody
        February 13, 2012 | 1:09 pm

        I have used three brands: Sweet Cactus, Madhava, and Organic Nectars Agave the past 13 years, and never trusted the Wholesome Sweetener brand – especially when I worked in a health food store that was downsizing and replacing all the quality brands with brands like this. I suspected it might be cheaper and made cheaper (like with half corn-syrup added to it?)

        After reading all this controversy about agave, I stopped using it this past October and have noticed my craving for sweets diminished as I now can accept just a small amount of honey here and there and the natural sweetness of fruits -and even veggies, nuts, and seeds- can now be easily detected. I must have been really super-sweet before… no good! Hope all that agave didn’t do any damage to my health!

  122. futanaria
    October 6, 2010 | 8:57 am

    Very informative post about agave. I’ve been seeking for natural and health sweetener, too bad agave it’s not good as sweetener. Maybe can you sugest any other natural sweetener?

  123. Krista
    November 3, 2010 | 2:17 am

    I am looking for a healthy sugar substitute for baking purposes and in everyday use such as in coffee or tea. Can you please tell me in all your research what that would be? Thank you

  124. Barbara
    November 5, 2010 | 1:28 pm

    - So grateful for this insight. However, I see that others have inquired about brown rice syrup. I would love information on it as well as xylitol. I have used xylitol in baking with some success, and understand that it’s been recognized in France for its antibiotic properties. Hoping to learn more about both these sweeteners!

  125. Monique
    November 27, 2010 | 9:26 am

    I understand agave is not the best natural sweetner, what do you recomend, if somenone need to use sweentener for coffee for exemple. Please let me know I was in the process or ordering a 46oz. botle. please give me an alternative

    Thanks

    Monique

  126. Stephen J. Ardent
    December 3, 2010 | 2:59 am

    I think your source has it wrong.
    Inulin is a “fructan”, which is a soluble fiber which helps promote the growth of healthy intestinal bacteria.
    Due to the body’s limited ability to metabolize polysaccharides, inulin has minimal increasing impact on blood sugar and is non-insulemic, and unlike fructose is considered suitable for diabetics.

  127. Victoria
    January 6, 2011 | 8:13 pm

    Kristen,
    I agree with you when you blog it’s your opinion. Thank you for that. It makes everyone more aware of what to maybe consider themselves and research. Look at all of the conversation this article generated. Now at least we are able to sit back and made a choice ourselves. Tori

  128. Lance
    February 10, 2011 | 12:39 pm

    Kristen, you’re awesome :) Thanks for the details AND the LINK to an ACTUAL study. Have you researched stevia extract?

  129. Mtewlde
    February 19, 2011 | 3:00 pm

    Kristen,
    This is very informative. Thank you for the research and extensive report.
    I tried the stuff for the first time in my coffee this morning and thought it was OK. I should have research first before buying it on the health issues though.
    The Soy milk is another interesting report.
    Have you done similar research on homemade Almond milk? I am about to make it at home from raw Almond.

  130. LMR
    February 22, 2011 | 4:19 pm

    I am sorry, but I do disagree with you. There is a lot of conflicting information out there. And the article you quoted, about it being made from the root bulb but not of the agave plant is incorrect, the root bulb is the root and plant base of the agave plant. And much like maple syrup, you do need to cook the liquid found there down to condense it. So in that aspect is is not raw. Perhaps not added to, or the liquid is it’s sole ingredient is what they are getting at. But because the sugars or fructose complexes in the plant liquid are slightly different than say Maple sap, they are recognized and digested differently in the body than maple. Of course Agave syrup is more concentrated than other sweet products, and you only need to use one quarter or one third of the amount of other sweeteners.
    Corn syrup is an extremely processed product as is rice syrup and those are made from the grain starches. And all commercially produced corn products in the US are Genetically modified and no good for us anyway.

    Sorry, as a diabetic, I will stick with my agave and stevia. I love baking with it, and will not use anything else. And I definitely prefer the darker syrup. We have become a society of overdoing everything. And actually the Mayan and Incan cultures did use agave liquid as a sweetening agent. Check out your chocolate historians. The pulp was used also.

  131. jessica
    March 3, 2011 | 3:53 pm

    So it becomes bad just because it has fructose? I am not sure if that reason alone is sufficient enough to call agave as “bad”.

  132. Dee Gallaher
    March 20, 2011 | 9:39 am

    I just found your site when googling about Agave. I am now a new member. Thanks Kristen!! A very informative and easy to read site. I bought a bottle of Agave after its recommendation by the Dietitian in my local grocery store. Blind faith I guess. I am so glad I read up on this stuff (not only your site here but a few others as well), and glad I only used it twice. I threw it out today. Now I am interested in your report on soy and will read that next, and research further. Again, thank you.

  133. Jo
    March 22, 2011 | 4:58 am

    I agree, I much prefer to use natural sugars when cooking.
    I will admit I experimented with Agarve nectar once upon a time… never again. Was just wrong.

  134. Jo
    March 22, 2011 | 5:06 am

    I agree, agarve nectar is a horrid creation, I admit I experimented with it once and will never do so again. Can’t say i was impressed.

    Thanks for the post to clarify, and keep up the good work, loving the site.

  135. AB
    March 28, 2011 | 4:07 pm

    Damn, damn double damn! Will I really have to come off crack finally? Sugar is just so sweet….

  136. MikeM
    April 10, 2011 | 8:00 am

    After doing a lot of research on the topic I have to agree with LMR. This article gives the appearance of a neutral party offering a scientific opinion of “Agave Nectar” and upon first read I said to myself “oh my gosh, throw that stuff out and stop trying to use it as a replacement sweetener for some things.”

    Further research and reading revealed that this “appearance of a neutral party offering a scientific opinion” can be compared to the likes of believing everything you read in the National Enquirer or STAR. Don’t assume by what you read here – look around and make sure the naysayers aren’t quoting the same Nagel/Bianchi article. Yes it gets attention and increases activity to your blog but bad journalism is the wrong path to get there.

  137. Jill RN
    April 13, 2011 | 5:17 pm

    I read this and started asking dieticians and physicians I spend 50+ hours a week with. (I am an RN)

    America is a wonderful country where we can express our opinions freely. And you are incorrect. Agave, if bought from a reputable producer has a lower glycemic index than sugar, maple syrup, and honey. It is not bad for you unless you’re in the habit of downing a pint at a time everyday for several months. Which is the same for sugar, honey, splenda etc., etc.

    According a large portion of highly trained medical professionals in east Texas, IT IS NOT BAD FOR YOU!

    Thank you for your time…………………

  138. Karen Vaughan, L.Ac.
    May 9, 2011 | 10:30 am

    Low glycemic index tells you very little about how good food is for you. If you are looking at two vegetables, or comparing meat to watermelon, then the glycemic index is of some value. But glucose is not as bad for you as fructose, and fructose does not raise the glycemic index. In fact if you are comparing sugars, low glycemic means high fructose, and fructose is worse than glucose which can be used throughout the body.

    Yes agave is less calorically dense than commercial HFCS, but it is still a high fructose item and it stresses the liver, causes di novo lipogenesis, inhibits leptin, increases triglycerides, increases purines which cause gout and increases appetite. Ask the doctors about that, and if they don’t know (since nutrition is significantly outside of their scope of training) check out Dr. Robert Lustig’s UCSF video on sugar: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBnniua6-oM

    My own article on agave syrup shows how agave sugar is made and discusses its damage. Since my article was written, the Glycemic Institute halted and banned all research on agave syrup because of the damage it does to diabetics. A link to their report is provided. http://www.acupuncturebrooklyn.com/alternative-health/agave-nectar-a-healthy-sweetner

  139. Ginny
    June 23, 2011 | 2:27 pm

    What about xylitol? I use one teaspoon of xylitol every day in my coffee. I just bought palm sugar at Whole Foods and sometimes use it with my coffee instead.

    • sally cameron
      July 30, 2011 | 10:00 pm

      Ginny, I am now using raw coconut crystals and like that. Have you tried it? Research it. Seems a good option. I too need just a little something in my coffee.

  140. susan lumiere
    June 24, 2011 | 5:35 am

    Somehow, the question that I thought was submitted hasn’t shown up. I was curious about your opinion of barley malt as a sweetener. Susan L.

  141. Grace
    July 6, 2011 | 4:06 pm

    As a general rule, I give less credence to anyone who claims their research provides the “definitive” answer, especially when all conclusions are drawn from only two articles and a single study.

  142. sally cameron
    July 30, 2011 | 8:31 pm

    Kristen, I’ve been doing a lot of research on alternative sweeteners and reading the debates over agave. Here is a link you might want to check out. It could change your opinion. This particular producer shares good information. would be interested to know what you think after you read this. Xagave is 49% fructose vs. 55%-90% for HFCS.

    http://blog.xagave.com/the-truth-about-agave-it-is-a-great-alternative-to-sugar-honey-and-other-natural-sweeteners/

  143. agave syrup
    July 31, 2011 | 10:22 pm

    what an interesting article… IT seems that agave syrup is marketed extremely well.. I have been using it on the assumption that it is better for you.. I intend to do my own definitive research as you have done.

  144. bybelknap
    August 1, 2011 | 10:16 pm

    OK, You lost me when your linked source took me to an article that had been removed from an anti-vaccine site. Anti-vaxers are dead wrong. They have blood on their hands. They may be right about agave “nectar.” But since they are peddling bad information – lethal information when it comes to vaccination, I’m not interested in what they have to say about much of anything.

    • Starr
      December 6, 2011 | 5:44 pm

      I think you better do some RESEARCH on VACCINES and the injuries and deaths they cause…100% anti vaccine MAMA here and PROUD! better do your research people have been dying from vaccines since the production of them its insane how people can’t figure out given a list of ingredients on the GOvt WEBSITE that these “vaccines” are not safe and do not immunize them. They are a joke and a scam

  145. bio-music
    August 10, 2011 | 11:55 am

    Hello Kristen,

    There is a lot of controversy around agave nectar!
    I live in Mexico, would the national agave be pure, as per your earlier post?
    Thanks for your answer, as I’m sure you’re pretty busy.

  146. PhilA
    August 26, 2011 | 7:38 am

    Interesting discussion here. All these references to “scientific” studies make my head spin. The medical industry has its own agenda just like the industrial food industry has its agenda, and their agendas do not necessarily coincide with human health, especially when it comes to food. I just finished reading Michael Pollan’s “In Defense of Food”, which I found full of common sense. I highly recommend this book if you haven’t already read it, especially if you are as confused about what to eat and what not to eat as I am. If you don’t want to spend the time and money reading the book, I will sum it up for you in seven (his) words: EAT FOOD. NOT TOO MUCH. MOSTLY PLANTS.

  147. Danielle
    August 30, 2011 | 3:20 pm

    What about Yacon Syrup as an alternative sweetner? Is it healthy? It is said to have a low glycemic index. Safe?? Not Safe?

  148. Brian
    September 21, 2011 | 2:47 pm

    Stevia makes the body cells more sensitive to insulin. Hence Stevia is recommended to people with metabolic syndrome.
    I am not using the Stevia Leaves but instead a more refined version is available as Natvia (http://natvia.com). I am using it since few years, and very happy with the results.

  149. whey protein
    October 2, 2011 | 5:04 pm

    Thank You for this post. I have gotten caught up in the agave hype and am unsure if i will continue to use it. I wonder if brands that claim to produce organic agave are any better. food for thought

  150. kellie
    October 9, 2011 | 7:39 pm

    The price of agave nectar is ludicrous. I went to winco and bought less than a pound of it and paid 5$. I then went home and used 3/4 of it making two loaves of pumpkin bread. The price is about 4.50 per cup.

  151. Jonathan Spector
    November 11, 2011 | 11:22 am

    I have an Israeli agave in my back yard. I saw the Mexican made syrup for the first time today and came home to check it out. So not only do I avoid it in the future, but I can also forget about commercial uses for my plant.

  152. Gregory Mitchell
    November 18, 2011 | 4:35 am

    Study after study has revealed that unlike Glucose, which can be directly absorbed and utilized by Every Cell in your body, Fructose is metabolized in your liver ONLY. Animals fed a high Fructose diet long enough ALWAYS develop the Same Pathologies as Human Alcoholics, viz. Fatty Degeneration and Cirrhosis [Scarring] of the Liver. When the attractive people on the corn industry TV ads turn for their close-ups and say that “your body doesn’t know the difference, sugar is just sugar”, it makes me want scream.
    If Big Agro-Bucks want to over-produce corn for Gasohol, well, OK, fine. Do they have to poison our children with Fructose too?

  153. Starr
    December 6, 2011 | 5:39 pm

    Hi,

    I really appreciate your research in this topic. I visit the natural news website in which THEY ACTUALLY PROMOTE this stuff go figure. But I HAVE trust in the FOOD RENEGADE!!! thanks so much

  154. Theresa
    January 4, 2012 | 1:17 pm

    Agave nectar is indeed low glycemic but the problem is the type of sugar not the glycemic index. Agave nectar is now shown to be 90% fructose (instead of the previously believed 74%). Unfortunately the higher in fructose something is the less your liver can process at once so it takes the “extra” and stores it as abdominal adipose tissue — tummy fat. This is one of the negative points against HFCS.

    also, the way agave was originally harvested by the natives was to cut a hole in the branches and let it fill with nectar, they used it straight. Now it is heated and processed which destroys some of the nutritional benefits.

    Sadly we do not use it anymore in our house. We are sticking to sucanat, cane juice crystals, maple syrup, honey and stevia.

  155. Trella
    January 27, 2012 | 2:22 pm

    I recently bought a two pack of agave nectar at Costco, trying to use less sugar, but now I think I will take it back. Maybe sugar isn’t so bad afterall! I wonder why it does not say on the label that it contains high fructose syrup? It is on most other labels. I am beginning to think that we really don’t know what is in what we are eating that we buy from the store. So discouraging!

  156. SD
    January 30, 2012 | 4:54 pm

    Everything is unhealthy for you.

    Eat whatever you want. Be happy. Die happy.

    I’m not drinking dehydrated yak sweat to add a year or two to my already incredibly-extended lifespan, thanks to modern medicine.

    • notmybody
      February 13, 2012 | 12:38 pm

      Die happy? Do you really know what dying is? Have you ever watched anyone die from a devastating disease? Have you ever had a brush with death yourself? Many who are health conscious, such as myself, have! Which is why we watch what we put down our throats!

      Extended life dependent on the medical society??? Just what kind of quality life do you think you will have on pharmaceuticals with their sometimes unbearable side-effects? Being on dialysis for example, is no way to live. Why would anyone want to be kept alive on drugs later because they’ve chosen to neglect their bodies now?

      The key to a truly long and happy life and hopefully, a peaceful death, is to steer clear of these poisons on the market, and to eat and drink as pure as possible… that is ORGANIC FOOD AND SPRING WATER as it’s found in nature!

      • Salem
        March 3, 2012 | 3:10 am

        You’re unbelievable.

        Have you ever… actually met an old person? I have an uncle who is now a stone’s throw away from 100, drinking Coca Cola and whiskey, eating cake and hot dogs all the while, and he has told me on multiple occasions that he is happy as can be, but at the same time “ready to go any day”. I believe him. He’s one of the most unfailingly calm and content guys I know.

        That’s what happens when you live a fulfilling, honest life, not a life full of paranoia and calculated living and standing in the grocery store anxiously death-staring the ingredients list on everything you pick up.

        My mother developed hyperthyroidism out of the blue after a lifetime of eating organic and jogging five miles every morning, and now has to take multiple prescription drugs every day just to keep her levels normal and her heart from going into life-threatening tachycardia.

        She may be dependent on the medical society and pharmaceuticals, but she is still active, optimistic and grateful for every day. You’ve got A LOT of nerve saying that’s “no way to live”.

        The key to a truly long and happy life is to chill the hell out and realize ultimately we have no control over when we will die, despite all our precautions. Sure you can eat the purest all-natural foods and drink crystal clear spring water every day, and yes it gives you an advantage, but it is NOT THE END-ALL BE-ALL. You could still be blindsided by illness and infection, or sideswiped by a garbage truck at a red light.

        Maybe sometime you should take a step back and focus more on what comes OUT of your throat (or fingers) than what goes down it. You may find your negative words to strangers can be just as poisonous and harmful to people as the artificial processed foods you hate so much.

        • BillyBobPhD
          March 10, 2012 | 1:53 pm

          I agree with Salem. Not 100%, but to a reasonable extent. MANY, many studies have shown that low stress levels will go a long way toward boosting longevity and good health. Just low stress levels and happiness. Mental state, stress levels, and all of that jazz can impact your chances of getting cancers and disorders just as much as a consistently horrible diet.

          On the other hand, not everyone can pile away coke and hot dogs until they’re 100 and be ok. Most people would face possible diabetes and heart disease. Your grandpa is just a very lucky man, in terms of genetics. But I don’t think people should obsess. Just be conscientious. Eating everything and not worrying isn’t good, as too much crap is deliberately piled into processed foods (MSGs, fructose, simple carbs, bleached flours, salt, etc). That crap is why diabetes is a growing, unreasonably frequent problem in the USA. But worrying about every cluster of atoms you ingest also isn’t helping. Crap in moderation, whole, healthy stuff most of the time, and don’t go overboard with fat/salt/sugar. It’s just a big “duh.”

          • ClintB
            July 13, 2013 | 10:41 am

            After a friend of mine discovered a cancer cure which a drug company discovered some 20 years ago and concealed I have been interested in and studying nutrition. One of the worst places I have found for good nutrition information is the pharma /medical community and their so called science. Since then, the internet has emerged, resulting in a plethora of information, much of it contradictory, but with enough sorting and sifting reasonable results are now obtainable. Two areas that I have found to be badly managed are cancer and diabetes, neither of which anyone should have since they are so easily curable…it’s all there on the internet, just look. A veterinary from Georgia has made some important discoveries I would like to pass on, since it has helped me so much. His site is DOGTORJ.COM. Look it up and the information there will change your world…Clint

  157. Andrew Sigal
    January 31, 2012 | 1:40 pm

    I have no position on Agave nectar one way or the other (I read this blog to try to help form an opinion.) I had hoped to find a definitive answer to the agave nectar good-or-bad question here. Unfortunately, while the author’s claims sound compelling, there are so many errors and myths included here that the conclusions cannot be believed. [Please, oh please, if you are going to attempt to debunk a product's merits, don’t use bunk in your argument.]

    Here are some of the errors/misstatements:

    * ‘When the sugar occurs in nature, it is often called “levulose” and is accompanied by naturally-occurring enzymes, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and fruit pectin.’ – No, “levulose” is the old word for the most common isomer of fructose. Furthermore, fructose is a monosaccharide (just like glucose and galactose.) If it is “bound up” with other things, natural or otherwise, that doesn’t change what it is – it is still fructose, whether it is in a pure crystalline form or mixed up with fiber, minerals, cupcakes or rat feces. Fructose is fructose is fructose. Put it into the digestive system of a mammal and it will get pulled apart from whatever it is mixed with – that is what digestive systems are for.

    * “Concentrated fructose, on the other hand, is a man-made sugar created by the refining process” – this statement on its own is not valuable. Fructose is not a “man-made sugar.” Refining processes do produce products where fructose is present in much higher quantities that is normally found in the natural world, but the same is true of table sugar (sucrose.) One can make an identical statement for maple syrup – “Maple syrup is a man-made product created by the refining process.” Or vodka, which is a man-made product (alcohol) made by refining fermented starches.

    * “Refined fructose is processed in the body through the liver, rather than digested in the intestine. Levulose is digested in the intestine.” – Once again, levulose is fructose. Moreover, fructose is a monosaccharide, so it doesn’t require digestion. Polysaccharides such as sucrose, lactose, maltose, etc., must be digested in order to break them down into monosaccharides that can then be absorbed. Fructose, glucose, and galactose are all absorbed directly into the bloodstream by the small intestine. All mono or polysaccharides continue on to the large intestine are consumed by intestinal flora which can result in gas, bloating, diarrhea, etc., as is the case in lactose intolerance or fructose malabsorption.

    * “Because fructose is digested in your liver, it is immediately turned into triglycerides or stored body fat. Since it doesn’t get converted to blood glucose like other sugars, it doesn’t raise or crash your blood sugar levels.” – Once in the blood stream, ALL monosaccharides proceed to the liver. The only difference is that glucose can be directly metabolized by any cell in the body. It appears that glucose travels through the liver and continues on its way, while fructose and galactose stay in the liver for metabolization. It appears that excess fructose can cause a variety of problems in the liver, and IS a concern. (However, this article’s errors rather bury this nugget of truth.)

    So, yes, Agave nectar has a high concentration of fructose and as such is probably as bad as any other concentrated source of fructose. But, on the other hand, honey is approx. 40% fructose and molasses is typically 20-25% fructose. So if you pit 2 tablespoons of honey or 3-4 tablespoons of molasses against one tablespoon of Agave nectar, then you have the same amount of fructose.

    I would still like to know if Agave nectar is good or bad. It would be great to see a blog on the subject that did not rely on erroneous information to make its case.

    • BillyBobPhD
      March 10, 2012 | 3:06 pm

      Much appreciated info!

  158. JDintheOC
    February 4, 2012 | 12:05 pm

    I’d heard so much about Agave nectar, I decided to try some and boy did I get a wrong number. Almost immediately I got a splitting headache,started getting dizzy and felt as though my battery had been yanked out because I had no energy at all. I tossed the rest!

  159. JB
    February 8, 2012 | 11:58 am

    I recently bought a bottle of Agave syrup (before reading this article). The label says “The agave sap is heated at a low temperature to produce a syrup with subtle molasses tones that is 25% sweeter than sugar.”
    I’m just curious if this is false labeling or are there more ways of making agave syrup? To me the label puts this product in the same category as maple syrup. Can you clarify?
    So does this mean fructose, no matter what the source, is bad for you? Is maple syrup not fructose as well, or honey?

  160. Rebekka
    February 17, 2012 | 10:03 pm

    Just my two cents on agave: I started using it a few years ago as my go-to sweetener, thinking it would be a healthier option than the Sucanat I was using. I replaced it in my coffee, my baking, and anywhere I would otherwise use sugar or a sugar substitute. Some time later I noticed an intense itching in the skin on the palms of my hands and eventually it worsened into hives. My naturopath put me on an intensely restrictive cleanse to see what was causing the problem – but agave was the one thing she didn’t restrict. After a month nothing had changed, and then one day I was reading about the high fructose levels in agave, and the fact that fructose is processed in the liver. My naturopath had mentioned that stress to the liver often manifests in the skin because it’s the fastest means of pushing toxins out of the body, so I decided to try cutting out agave. Only then did the hives disappear.

    Obviously my case was unique and I’m sure most people use agave with no ill effects. I’ve just chosen to stop using it since I seem to have a sensitivity to it, and I prefer not to stress my liver if I can help it.

  161. SF
    March 7, 2012 | 7:55 pm

    As always it is important to read the fine print and know exactly how the agave nectar is processed – know what you are buying.

    I found this very informative:

    http://grist.org/food/2009-04-10-agave-sweet/

  162. BillyBobPhD
    March 10, 2012 | 11:35 am

    The amount of people here commenting about their likely psychogenic “side effects” is amazing, but common. Look up any danger article about ANY product, and you’ll have swarms of idiots posting comments about how it made them dizzy, gave them headaches, made their vision blurry, made them forget how to read for a day, etc. Most of the time these people are just hypochondriacs.

    I’m not defending fructose and fructose-like sweeteners, though. High intake of them can lead to fructose malabsorption, metabolic syndrome, and even insulin resistance if you eat way too much. A lot of studies have shown a high fructose diet actually leads to heart and insulin problems more so than a diet high in glucose.

    • Natasha
      August 20, 2012 | 12:55 am

      Your point would be better made if you did not insult the people commenting here by calling them idiots.

  163. Vast Majority
    March 11, 2012 | 2:44 am

    I’m going to repeat some earlier comments because it seems a lot of people posting here are not up to speed as to some of the BS that’s happening. Kristen’s article is misleading. Not all Agave Nectars have a fructose level greater than the typical HFCS. Check out this chart: http://www.globalgoods.com/agavenectar.html

    Even plain table sugar metabolises to about 50% fructose. Some Agave Nectars have less than that!

    Nevertheless, some Agave Nectar is indeed bad, but not all.

    Additionally, not all Agave Nectar uses chemicals in their production process:

    The Volcanic Nectar Brand indicates that it is Organic, Kosher, and Raw and uses the following process:
    The leaves are removed from the plant which bares the base of the plant 1/2 above and 1/2 below the ground. The agave base is then removed and taken to a facility to where it is heated to no more than 118 degrees F to get the juices flowing. The base or ball of the plant is then chopped up, filtered, sent through a centrifuge and poured into the bottles you get today. There are other less expensive ways to produce the agave in a faster way, but Volcanic Nectar uses the more traditional methods for health reasons.

    Kristen, I think the problem some of us have with your article is that you make UNTRUE blanket statements such as this:

    “agave nectar is not a ‘natural sweetener.’ Plus, it has more concentrated fructose in it than high fructose corn syrup.”

    Please follow the above link and look at the chart.

    Yes it IS true that many agave nectars are poor choices, but if you do some actual research you’ll see that THERE REALLY ARE SOME GOOD HEALTHY NATURAL AGAVE NECTARS AVAILABLE.

    A more honest appraisal from Kristen would have said something like:
    “SOME agave nectars shouldn’t qualify as a ‘natural sweetener.’ Plus, many brands (but not all) have more concentrated fructose in it than high fructose corn syrup.”

  164. seideansidh
    March 12, 2012 | 3:29 pm

    I have a diabetic father whom I keep sweeteners around for his benefit which is usually stevia but I will use agave in some items because it dissolves better. He doesn’t sweeten his coffee never has but he likes his tea sweet. My husband consumes way too much sweet soft drinks and coffee so when I do bake I use agave. I do not like coffee but I do sweeten ice tea and when we have hot chocolate.

    True I have been using the wrong kind (according to many) and I will try the Xagave. I studied a few articles who all contradict one another… one claims agave is from a starch root similar to corn one says no, the other claims high fructose yet honey has 38% to 42% fructose on average agave has 49%…not much difference so is it the glucose load? Should it be higher then the 17% in agave? Closer to the 35% to 40% present in honey? Is this a balance issue(fructose to glucose)? It seems to me the fructose in honey is going straight to you liver also… or is it the process to make agave? the fact that honey is consider raw and agave is heated to remove mositure (I am speaking of the Xagave not Wholesome)? As Vast Majority stated it matters more on what brand you pick not the agave itself????

  165. Arleen Walker
    April 17, 2012 | 11:29 am

    I WAS using the ‘natural’ agave nectar when I made sweet tea in my iced tea maker! I thought it was much healthier than traditional sweeteners. Thank you for opening my eyes!

  166. cmd
    May 11, 2012 | 11:11 pm

    After seeing so much conflicting information flying around about Agave Nectar, I decided to do some research on my own. Wholesome Sweetner’s Raw Agave is processed at low temps – no higher than 118 degrees and the ‘nectar’ is pressed from the plant like juicing fruit…. not ‘created’ by scientifically manipulating the starch from the plant… not sure why some are saying it is not ‘natural’… I invite you to do some research on the companies you are interested in… I have found that not all Agave is alike nor is it all processed the same way.

  167. Danielle
    May 15, 2012 | 1:18 pm

    Great review of why agave nectar is not good for us! I have been avoiding it just like I have avoided HFCF and all refined sugars for that matter. I just have a problem with some the science you quoted. I study metabolism, and have never heard the term lelulose before, so I googled it, and it looks like it is an alternative name to fructose. The sugar in fruit is sucrose, it is a disaccharide of glucose and fructose, so 50/50 glucose-fructose; only 5% less than that of HFCF. Fruit also contains free fructose and glucose. The sucrose is digested in the gut and broken down to glucose and fructose. Glucose has many fates, most of which are to be utilized by the brain and muscles, while fructose is generally metabolized in the liver, causing a whole host of problems. The main difference between the sugars found in fruit versus those of HFCF is that fruit comes with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and of course fibre, slowing down sugar absorption.

  168. Zazy
    May 31, 2012 | 2:30 pm

    I’m curious to know what you think of the Agave Nectar from Wilderness Family Naturals?
    thank you!

  169. Kathy
    June 18, 2012 | 7:12 pm

    There are raw agave nectars. As many have said here, not all agave nectars are alike, but like with any sweetner, moderation is key. What most people need to know is that the average person in the United States sweetens too many foods and drinks. Those people getting 25% of their calories from sugar are getting too many from it, particularly if they are getting those calories from their drinks. Water is calorie free and should be what we drink as human beings more than any other beverage. Also, did the study say 25% of how many calories? Most people in the U.S. are also getting too many of those, period, hence the obesity epidemic.

  170. stacy
    July 27, 2012 | 3:26 pm

    i enjoyed your read on why agave syrup and stopped using it and was about to write a letter complaining to domino sugar abourt them saying in an agave ad that it comes from the nectar of the plant. i thought they were full of lies, so i researched it more and came across this article that states there is nothing unnatural about producing agave syrup – it’s just juice of the core of the plant heated. it doesn’t seem like both your support and this article can be right. i know you thought you have a definitive answer – but now i’m still not clear. thoughts?

    http://www.globalgoods.com/manufacturingagavenectar.html

  171. Ashley
    July 30, 2012 | 5:32 am

    I’m sure that not every brand of agave nectar is made the same but here is part of a Q & A from Domino’s website about why their agave nectar is better than HFCS:

    Q. Is agave nectar the same thing as High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)?

    A. Agave nectar is not the same as HFCS, and it is not chemically altered. Agave nectar is a natural sweetener that comes from the core of the agave plant. Because of all the concerns with HFCS, people often question the consumption of fructose. The reality is that fructose is found in almost every fruit and vegetable we eat. HFCS has a bad reputation because of the unnatural process used to create it. Therefore people wrongly associate fructose as being bad for you. Fructose, like any sweetener, is fine when consumed in proper portions. Agave nectar, unlike HFCS, has a slow energy release of fructose, giving it a low glycemic index that helps keep energy levels balanced. The fructose found in agave nectar is a naturally occurring sweetener and is not the same as HFCS.

  172. Rita
    August 27, 2012 | 10:05 am

    I would appreciate you reading this researched article and then responding. I have read Dr. Mercola’s information. I do like a lot of his research, however, have found some misleading ‘facts’ and this is one of them.

    http://www.braintoniq.com/is-agave-bad-for-you-fallacy.php
    The article has really been a benefit to this company to back up their product with truths.

    Thanks in advance for your response.

  173. Alan Bowman
    August 30, 2012 | 12:10 pm

    I am mildly diabetic. With a minimum dose of Metformina, I usually hit the “Normal non-diabetic” level of 90-105. My wife has me on sweeteners (Sodium cyclomate) and they make everything taste awful. I have tried others and they were worse. My sister just brought some Agave Nectar here and I tried it in a mug of coffee – just two drops were as good as two teaspoonfuls of sugar and no aftertaste. Now all the above may be true but, surely If I am just using two small drops five times a day in my coffee, the amount of harm being done is far outweighed by the pleasure of being able to drink a cup of coffee without wanting to throw-up?

  174. marilyn Coffey
    September 7, 2012 | 10:59 pm

    Oh boy, so hard to keep up with all. It gets discouraging but I am happy for this info. Of course bought the agave and think I am doing well. Then I see article on x virgin olive oil fake. Oh boy. Then I wonder did I buy the right cocoanut oil. Gosh. lear and remember..thats my goal

  175. Tiffany
    September 24, 2012 | 12:12 am

    I’m confused on how Agave Nectar is not natural but Miel de agave is because when I look up Miel de agave I find the same thing as Agave Nectar. What then is suggested to be used as a sweetner for coffee and syrups? What brands of miel de agave do you recommend to be safe and natural for everyday use in my coffee?

    Thank you! I swore my agave nectar until now… Im just not confused as to what I should be using since so far every article I have read says that everything I once thought was healthy and natural is not.

  176. Tiffany
    September 24, 2012 | 12:15 am

    oops typo.. I swore “by” agave nectar until now. I am now confused as to what i should be using….

  177. Dana Taylor
    September 30, 2012 | 6:12 pm

    I want to thank you for clearing up the fructose confusion for me. I am almost prediabetic and was using Fructevia (fructose and stevia combo) for a sweetener because it said it didn’t raise blood sugar levels. But I have a fatty liver (I know, BAD) because I’m over weight. Fructose sounds like something I should avoid like the plague. I must get over my sugar addiction but not with agave or fructose. Thanks again for the clear information.

  178. Cryptovegan
    October 22, 2012 | 12:56 pm

    At Whole Foods I picked up some Pamela’s “Whenever Bars”, claiming increased omega-3s, wheat/gluten-free, etc. It lists “Organic Agave”, tapioca starch, coconut sugar, and raisins as the sweeteners, for 9g “sugar” total.

    Is “Organic Agave” the same as this over-processed agave nectar in the article? Thank you.

  179. Renegade Wellbeing
    November 7, 2012 | 12:31 pm

    Wow Renegade, I just wanted to complement you on the quality of your writing and your great interaction you have. Way to go, keep up the good work!

  180. Nmc Telos
    November 20, 2012 | 11:28 am

    Thank you for this great article. However, I’m curious as to why you advertise using Agave on your own website- http://www.foodrenegade.com/real-food-resources/” target=”_blank
    ??

    • KristenM
      November 20, 2012 | 12:38 pm

      Well, as I said in the post, not all agave is bad. There *is* a traditionally-made sweetener that has been made my native Mexicans for centuries. What you want to avoid eating is the chemically-processed kind that creates concentrated, unbound fructose. (This has been mentioned in the comments, too.)

      I’m all for people enjoying small amounts of natural, traditionally-made sweeteners. What I’m against is the refining process that artificially concentrates the sweetener and removes or dramatically reduces the trace minerals and other goodies found with the whole, natural sweetener.

      (I’ve mentioned this before in the comments, but I don’t blame anyone for not reading all the way through them.) :)

      Thanks for asking!

  181. sheryl
    November 23, 2012 | 9:54 am

    Okay so I have read your article twice now and it makes perfect sense AND..the agave nectar that I buy claims it is non gmo and organic. So does that mean that the agave is organic and non gmo but that doesn’t cover the process in which it is produced? So why does it claim that on the packaging if it doesn’t cover the entire process? Isn’t that illegal?

  182. Tom
    December 6, 2012 | 2:04 am

    I found a great use for Blue Agave Nectar that does something wonderful – and you wind up not eating that much of it. There is something amazing that it does that I found out by accident.

    2 Tablespoons of Blue Agave Nectar
    1/2 Cup Soy Sauce
    1/3 cup water
    Mix it well

    Amounts I specified are approximate …
    What I usually do is take and pour the blue agave into a small bowl so it coats the bottom of the bowl, so I guess that’s what, a spoonlful or two? Then, like Justin Wilson the Cookin’ Cajun, I pour in “about that much” soy sauce which I figure is about a half a cup. Then I add “about that much water” which seems like about a 1/3 cup.

    1 onion chopped into chunks
    Some garlic powder
    Some olive oil
    2 or 3 of those boneless chicken thighs

    Put those boneless chicken thighs in a skillet and start ‘em cookin’ in the olive oil … … douse ‘em with that garlic powder … after a couple more minutes, pour in the Blue Agave Soy mix into the skillet.

    After a few more minutes, throw in them onions …

    Cook without a lid on med-high heat until there is a nice tar consistency to the sauce – so that the water is cooked off.

    Them chickens should be all nice and tender, and almost like BBQ … more tender than just cooking them without the agave/soy mix, and the majority of the agave/soy mix stays in the skillet with very little on the chicken.

    We usually have a baked potato, a salad and some kinda cooked vegetable with this …

    And yes we know and read this whole treatise about the poisonous toxicity of blue agave – but this recipe doesn’t put that much into the chicken OVERALL – so you’re consuming very little by the time you take that chicken out of the skillet.

  183. aeschine
    December 16, 2012 | 5:39 pm

    While I admire the amount of research you put into this, you still didn’t really answer the question of what diabetics can use. (yes, I looked at your sweetners of choice…all no-no’s for diabetics).
    If you have a safe and proven, non-chemical sweetner that diabetics can use, please let me know.
    My husband has made an experiment of tracking his numbers with various chemical sweetners and natural…the only one that worked was agave.

  184. bmommyx2
    December 29, 2012 | 3:53 pm

    I personally find it upsetting & frustrating that in light of the information so many supposed health foods contain this as an ingredient.

  185. Chris
    January 8, 2013 | 12:13 pm

    Applause for an awesome article on agave. I have never tried it but have heard mixed reviews about whether it is “health” food or not. I leaned more to it not being health food. Plus I think it would be good to adjust my taste buds from craving sweets all of the time. It can make it hard to convert to a healthier diet if you’re just substituting sugar for sugar… and a worse form of sugar at that. Thanks for the article and the good resources within.

    Cheers,

    Chris

  186. Atlas
    January 21, 2013 | 6:43 pm

    I would suggest that your readers carefully examine the claims that fructose increases appetite levels. In the study cited, even though leptin levels increased, there was inherently no difference in food consumption compared to glucose and the length of the study was only 2 days with 12 women. And the dose? Try 45 g 3 times in a day in beverages. That’s nearly 3 times the mean intake of fructose in the U.S. of 49.1 g/day. Even the authors of the study admitted that the study was too small and the results inherently too inconclusive to arrive at any definitive conclusions, yet the same study is endlessly referenced as if it was. Expert reviews of the human clinical studies on fructose and satiety have since concluded that the evidence for fructose causing less satiety than glucose is not convincing. The most recent found that at 45 g to 75 g before meals, fructose no more effected satiety than glucose. As for the study in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, which you describe as the most definitive one to date on fructose and obesity, the subjects were obese from the start. And the amount of fructose they consumed in the trial? Try 250 g/day. No one consumes that much fructose. In the most recent (2012) systematic review of the human clinical studies on fructose and weight gain, it was shown that a minimum of 104 g/day was required to produce even a modest increase in body weight. With fructose at an experimental dosage of 150 g/day, one study found that healthy men and women showed no increase in visceral (abdominal) fat, subcutaneous abdominal fat, or body weight. While that’s more than anyone consumes or should want to, it shows that fructose does not necessarily turn to body fat in people unless that intake is extremely high. In rats fed 60% of the their diet as fructose you can get great increases in body weight and all sorts of other effects. But rats convert over 50% of carbohydrate to fat, whereas we do not. In addition, fasting triglyceride levels are not elevated by fructose unless the daily intake is at least 100 g/day. As for agave syrup being made from starch or the root of the plant, you need to check the facts. It was never made from the roots of Agave and there is no starch to make it from. Nor is it made with caustic acids. Just because the article at the Weston A Price Foundation makes various claims about agave syrup does mean they are accurate. As for the fructose contents of the syrups, the most extensive survey to date shows that they range from 55% to about 70% in the pourable form (by wet weight). Around 25% of the content of the syrup you buy is moisture which allows the syrup to be poured. Higher figures are only based on the solids in the syrup with the moisture removed and are being used to suggest that agave syrup contains up to 90% fructose. A further myth is that the syrups are not made from the sap. In fact, they were always made from the sap, which was heated. By heating the fructans in the sap in solution (thermally hydrolyzing them), the indigenous people of Mexico produced a sweet syrup. That’s not marketing hype but historical and technical fact. The difference today is that the syrup is filtered and the heat is more controlled. The traditional syrup is very dark and the flavor overwhelms the taste of foods such that it is not suitable as an general purpose sweetener. Writing from outside the agave syrup industry, I can’t believe the number of web sites spreading misinformation instead of facts. It’s as if hardly anyone is bothering to check them beforehand.

  187. Debi Potts
    January 24, 2013 | 5:41 pm

    Thank you for finally answering this question. I looked this up so many times on the internet only to find all different kinds of answers. This is very informative and backed by research! As a new diabetic, I cannot thank you enough!

  188. Ann
    January 28, 2013 | 11:36 am

    Actually, I buy Agave Necter at Whole Foods. The label list 100% Amber Agave Necter. I called the company because the number is listed on the label. There are no artificial anythings added and the agave necter is simply boiled down and bottled.

  189. anna
    January 31, 2013 | 5:35 am

    Thank you so much for this informative post. I have friends who swear by agave nectar, and living as I do in S. Europe I find it prohibitively expensive, and not always “pure.” I have long wondered why if it is so “natural” we had never heard of it before now, when it’s suddenly the buzzword sweetener. Thanks to your post I will stick with panela (dried unrefined cane juice.) Which *has* been around since about the 16th century at least.

  190. Martin
    February 5, 2013 | 11:20 pm

    The risks of man made fructose are clear, what are the opinions on fructose from fresh fruits?

  191. Kathie Spratling
    February 10, 2013 | 12:42 pm

    Thank you for this. I am so disappointed that agave is bad for you. You explained it clearly. I have been using agave for a few months, and just bought a couple of bottles of it yesterday. The main reason why I switched to agave was to avoid what white sugar does then to find out agave does the same thing! Thanks for the info.

    • Rachna
      March 1, 2013 | 3:24 am

      Agave is not bad, honey could be worse than agave. Don’t be gullible, do more reading, use logic and of course moderation (that is true for everything)

  192. BillSF9c
    February 22, 2013 | 1:58 am

    Ok. I’ll tell the heavy diabetic SIL. Now, after I get the nectar; How do I make it into Tequilla!!!? BWG! I mean, that WAS the 1st reason to GET the nectar, wasn’t it? Of COURSE it was. And if you have too much, you will get fat, fall off your burro, who’ll take off with your burrito-lunch, and you’ll walk the fat off on the way home. Yin & Yang. Lose balance and regain it as part of the same activity. Oh, and remember the lime, eh? TIA. ;>)

  193. Sean S
    February 27, 2013 | 1:02 pm

    If it is made up mostly of Inulin. Inulin is good for your body. The good bacteria in our bodes, feed off it.

  194. Rachna
    March 1, 2013 | 3:20 am

    Here’s the thing, I’m not predisposed to being for or against agave or any other Sweetners for that matter, I believe in healthy eating, and cook most of my food at home from scratch.

    BUT :) we are not scientists and lets not make hasty decisions based on just one side of the argument.

    Here’s an article that may throw some light on how some arguments may be exaggerated, read up both sides before you select honey over agave!
    http://www.braintoniq.com/is-agave-bad-for-you-fallacy.php

  195. Hemalatha Nakka
    March 3, 2013 | 6:23 am

    It is truly an informative article revealing some truths of the agave syrup. Specially about the fructose and its digstibility and the assimilation later on. As it is supported by research we need to think twice before using the agave syrup.

  196. gauvinma
    March 7, 2013 | 7:08 pm

    That was a good article with good information. It has been useful as I have been writing a blog post on alternative sweeteners and had some trouble with agave. The only issue I have right now is that when I follow your link to the Madhava webpage, it doesn’t say “Agave nectar is a newly created sweetener, having been developed in the 1990s.” (they may have changed it). Also, you have a quote that is describing the process using digestive enzymes and chemicals, but their page says:

    “Madhava Organic Agave Nectar is an all-natural, organic, Non-GMO Project Verified sweetener made from the natural juice (aguamiel) of the agave plant.

    Our agave is organically grown and sustainably farmed in the Sierra Madres region of Mexico. The heart of the plant is pressed to extract the agave juice. The juice is then filtered to remove any plant debris. Once filtered, the juice is heated to approximately 140 degrees to achieve the sweet nectar. The nectar is then filtered again to produce the varying flavor profiles.

    No other ingredients are added during processing.”

    It is difficult to know what to make of the situation, but at the least I can rely on the fact that fructose causes significant health complications and therefore puts agave in the red

  197. Atlas
    March 9, 2013 | 4:03 am

    In moderate amounts, fructose has not shown deleterious effects. For those with diabetes, clinical trials have repeatedly found that moderate amounts of fructose improve glycemic control. It is only when fructose is consumed by diabetics as an added sugar at more than 60 g/day that fasting triglyceride levels increase (however modestly), which is why the Canadian Diabetes Association advises that higher intakes in place of regular sugar as a sweetener is not recommended for those with diabetes. The problem for diabetics is that they have poor lipid metabolism due a deficiency of insulin. But that doesn’t mean they can’t consume fructose in small to moderate amounts. The American Diabetes Association allows patients to use agave syrup as long as it is regarded as they would regular sugar, as a source of carbohydrates to be consumed in modest amounts.

    For healthy individuals, fasting triglycerides only increase after 100 g/day. However, for those with already elevated levels, the American Heart Association recommends that the daily intake of fructose is limited to between 50 g and 100 g. That’s still a lot! The current mean level of consumption in the U.S. is 49 g/day, which is down from a previous mean intake of 54 g/day.

    Does fructose cause insulin resistance in healthy people? At 250 g/day it does, but not at up to 120 g/day.

    Claims that fructose raises uric acid levels are exaggerated. Despite what anyone is claiming, in order for their levels to increase, a person would either have to inject fructose intravenously, or ingest it at around 200 g/day. According to a systematic review and meta-analysis of 21 clinical trials of fructose, their levels were not raised unless the intakes were 213 to 219 g on a daily basis as excess calories. No one is consuming that much.

    Then there’s the business of fructose increasing fat in the liver. In clinical trials, a significant increase in liver fat was not found in healthy people consuming fructose at 100 g/day.

    De novo lipogenesis? Much of that is based on studies of the effects seen in rats given 60% and higher amounts of their caloric intake as fructose. In rodents, converting carbohydrates such as fructose in the liver into fatty acids is done at a rate of more than 50%. In humans, the contribution to de novo lipogenesis is around 3%, if that. Such a low rate is not significant.

    Being a caloric sugar, fructose can of course produce weight gain, if one consumes enough of it. A recent (2012) systematic review of 41 clinical studies of fructose showed that with very high daily doses of 104 g to 250 g as excess calories, body weight modestly increased by an average of 1.16 lb (0.5 lb to 1.7 lb).

    The study cited in the opening of this page and described as “most definitive one” is found on other web sites making claims about agave syrup. The study found weight gain from fructose at 250 g/day in obese and overweight men and women consuming their usual diets for most of the trial. In the control group given experimental beverages containing the same amount of glucose, body weight, waist circumference, and fat mass also increased. Subcutaneous fatty tissue increased in the glucose group and abdominal fat and intra-abdominal fat (visceral fat) increased in the fructose group. Although signs of insulin resistance were greater in the fructose group, levels of glucose greatly increased in the glucose group. At 5 times the mean intake of fructose in the U.S., how is that supposed to be definitive? The results are far from being evidence that lower intakes lead to the same effects and no one is consuming fructose at anywhere close to that level.

    Still beyond what people are consuming or that anyone should, in another trial of similar design and caloric intake from the same sugars, healthy men and women were given fructose or glucose in beverages supplying a daily dosage of 150 g. No increase in intra-abdominal fat, subcutaneous abdominal fat, or skeletal muscle fat was found in the fructose group, and whereas the glucose group gained weight (+3.74 lb), the fructose group did not.

    As for the confusion about “agave nectar” or “miel de agave” (Spanish for honey of agave or agave syrup), it is important to understand that term “nectar” is simply a commercial handle for the syrup. Nectar is a liquid that collects in flowers, but not in the part of the plant used to make the syrup. By any method, including those of the indigenous people of Mexico and the southwestern U.S., the syrup was made by heating the sap of the stems, otherwise referred to as the ‘heads’ or in Spanish, piñas, due to their pineapple-like shape which becomes noticeable upon removal of the leaves and roots. The sap is otherwise being referred to as the “juice” and even the “nectar”, which is not correct. The indigenous people made a black, molasses-like syrup by either baking the stems in pit-ovens and boiling the juice obtained from the cooked stems, or harvesting the sap from the center of the stems where it collects after carving out a large hole in the top; the latter practiced in the area known as Mexico’s highlands during the time of the Aztecs and up to the present on a small scale. Spanish writers after the Conquest named the sap ‘honey-water’ or “aguamiel”. However, the aguamiel is barely sweet and required boiling to make the syrup. By boiling the sap, the indigenous people removed most of the water content and broke the carbohydrate bonds linking glucose and fructose in the fructans (also known as oligofructose and fructoologosaccharides), including the type known as inulin. Because the carbohydrate chains that compose fructans consist of more fructose than glucose, boiling released them to produce a sweet syrup with fructose predominating and glucose in smaller amounts. Had they filtered the syrup, they would have obtained amber and other colors and a lighter rather than strongly flavored product. No enzymes were added. Despite a patent for the manufacture of agave syrup in the late 1990s in which enzymes were proposed, they are not required to this day. Even if some may have claimed to or actually bothered to use them, most agave syrups are certified organic, so GMO enzymes could not be used without significant repercussions. More than one type of enzyme is required in the manufacture of high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) in addition to other processes, but not agave syrup. Like regular sugar, HFCS supplies a much higher amount of glucose than agave syrup, which is why either sweetener has a high glycemic value and agave syrup has a low one.

    Today, as in the past, the stems or heads are harvested by removing the leaves and roots. But they are not being roasted or baked to make the syrup, as they are in the manufacture of tequila or meszcal. Instead, the heads are shredded and sap is obtained by soaking the material in clean water. After initial filtering to remove plant material, the juice is heated and filtered again and most of the water is evaporated to leave the syrup. As the indigenous people found, heating drives off the water content of the sap and the same is true of maple syrup.

    If one examines the claim that “chemicals” are being used to make the syrups, it soon becomes obvious that what was listed as chemicals are either not used or not chemicals. The often-cited article posted at the Weston A Price Foundation claiming their use is obviously based on the old patent from the late 1990s which has long since expired and does not mean that the substances it lists are being used. Contact any number of agave syrup producers or go to Mexico and you will find that the acids and enzymes in the article not employed. What threw the general public, and apparently Dr. Mercola, are the names of the substances the article listed, such as “Dicalite” and “Clarimex”. Those are simply the respective brand names of diatomaceous earth and activated carbon; the former being used to filter liquids and the latter for purifying water. Even then, filtering the syrup or the sap is performed with membrane filtration, which is basically pushing a liquid through a large screen composed of inert but permeable material. What about ionic and cationic resins? Rest assured that neither one is getting into the syrup and that they are simply used in water-purification. If they interfered with organic certification, they could not be used.

  198. Olinda Paul
    March 11, 2013 | 2:19 am

    I just came across this:
    http://www.nectresse.com/our-story

    I would like to know what you think.

  199. Ta-Kela!
    March 24, 2013 | 2:58 pm

    Just my 2 cents. I have a friend that is diabetic and he said that agave tequila lowered his blood sugar. In my first test, my sugar had dropped 100 points in 3 hours after taking 2 shots 1 hour apart. If it’s all fructose, why is my sugar dropping?

  200. Audrey
    March 25, 2013 | 8:27 pm

    I’m so glad I found this article. I have considered myself to be a “health nut” since I was old enough to know any better, despite not particularly being raised in a healthy house. I am now 24, and I have learned of so many diets and health foods I never knew existed when I was 16. I have come a long ways since the days where I thought buying a loaf of whole wheat bread was healthy to going paleo to having my fear of grains put out by finding you which led me to the Price foundation. However it was only a few weeks ago I ever even heard of Agave being bad. I have been using it in my baked goods for a few years now, as I too was sucked into thinking it was healthy when I first heard of it. And never did the research to know any different. Anyways, up until now, I never knew why a different health person seemed so condescending of me when I thought I was being a real foodie not using sugar, but agave in my baked goods! haha. Either way, it’s always interesting how we end up where we are!

  201. Shelly Barrett
    March 27, 2013 | 8:26 am

    Omg I switched to agave a year ago. No wonder I’m a fat cow now. Moo. Going to dump it down the drain.

  202. Rock
    March 27, 2013 | 1:17 pm

    2 days in a row, I had uncomfortable feelings in my gut after drinking green tea with lemon and Agave.
    The only difference was the Agave, I have been drinking Green Tea for years with Lemon and honey.
    So I went looking for answers and found this site

  203. Rock
    March 27, 2013 | 1:17 pm

    THANK YOU

  204. Leanne
    April 21, 2013 | 11:43 pm

    I’ve recently read a number if articles claiming how bad agave is for you. In all the scientific talk not one article has produced scientific research where agave has been used and proclaimed horrible for the body because it causes whatever to happen.
    Why if it’s so bad for you did it clear up emotional issues in my 2 blood type A people in the family? Why has it slowed the process of tooth decay? Why is it one of two sweeteners that our friend with lymphoma cancer was allowed to have? Also, a blood type A. He ate a raw good diet for 9 months with only raw honey and raw agave as a sweeteners. He had two large tumors which disappeared within three months. That was over two years ago. He’s still clear of cancer. If all that you say about Agave is true he would be dead by now for his body wouldn’t have been able to keep up with the damage that the agave was doing to his liver and fight the fastest moving cancer known to man.
    Why when I give it to diabetics do they have no issues? Why does it put no fuzz on my teeth as other sweeteners do?
    After nearly 4-5 years of using Agave our family of 8 are all still thin. Don’t blame your weight on Agave from one article.

  205. Giovanni Ciriani
    May 10, 2013 | 10:53 am

    I just started testing HoenyTree’s Organic Blue Agave as a substitute for honey. I see it has a lower glycemic index than honey. I see it is certified organic by EcoCertiCo. However, that doesn’t amount to any proof of being good or bad, because it only means that the ingredients are obtained without agricultural chemical products. What I’m interested in is if the claim of “All-Natural nectar from the Agave Plant” is correct. The definition of nectar means that there is a particular percentage of the original substance, diluted with something else. Still I’m curious to hear opinions from different people.

  206. Janet Beaudet
    May 10, 2013 | 12:50 pm

    I don’t know your credentials but my Naturopathic Dr. Christie Fleetwood went to school with my children so I know her very well. All through school she was an outstanding student. She got her first degree as a pharmacist and practiced for 10 year in traditional AMA medicine. She then went back to college for another 6 years and became a Naturopathic Doctor. She said the agave nector is processed and no better for you than sugar. But Raw Blue Agave is not processed and is good for you provided you take into account the calories if they matter to you. She never makes statements without researching her answers carefully.

  207. Levi
    May 14, 2013 | 9:57 pm

    My partner and I had severe reactions to Loving Earth Agrave Nectar. Extremely itchy all over after having only quarter of a teaspoon. We have both tried other brands without ill effect. Be warned this stuff is a scam.

  208. another_sunnyspot
    May 21, 2013 | 4:14 pm

    I visited the website today having just read your new book Beautiful Babies and wanting to clarify a few inconsistencies. Having lived in Mexico as an expat for several years and closely involved with my “miel de maguey” – harvesting neighbors, I wish to express my frustration that reporting a product as blanketly harmful or beneficial without truly connecting with those who know how to produce it is misleading to the public in general.

    The syrup that is traditionally produced from the agave (SPECIFICALLY the “maguey” ) plant in the Valle de Mezquital región can be safely enjoyed as an alternative sweetener. Yet of course, when the récipe was adapted for mass production and consumption to the American consumer it has become over-processed and far from healthy. Like the misinformation regarding the soaking of corn grains published in Beautiful Babies, I have to say that the author is not in close enough contact with the traditional preparation techniques (still in use today by the average citizen who is properly-informed) to make accurate statements about their preparation or healthiness. I encourage Mrs. Michaelis to expand her circle of acquaintences in order to come in contact with more reputable information so that she can distinguish the good from the bad with greater accuracy and not sacrifice her credibility by trying to discuss food products with which she obviously does not have direct experience with their “traditional” uses as she so highly values in the Beautiful Babies book.

    Her passionate message is an important one. I hate to see it undermined by regular errors of fact.

  209. Crosswind
    May 28, 2013 | 3:40 pm

    Excellent Article & write up. I was headed to the local cafe for a slice of cheesecake. Having high triglycerides on my last test (not usual for me), i better cancel my trip. I cut out raw honey from my diet, since it too is super high in concentrated fructose and what is not used is converted into triglycerides = bad fat = inflammation. I think it’s what raised my triglycerides.

    Most raw cafes use Agave still, but you have to ask. Some are transitioning and using a combination of Honey, Agave, Cane Sugar, Coconut sugar etc. I should learn to make my own Raw Cheesecake pie with Coconut sugar.

  210. Honeybee
    June 10, 2013 | 10:44 pm

    This article, like most on the internet does not incorporate critical thinking skills. You can fool some of the people all the time and all of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all the people all the time. (Thanks for something, Lincoln.)

    If you don’t want to buy agave, don’t. But if your reason is because of its fructose, honey and applesauce have higher fructose levels (USDA’s National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference). This list does not specify what species of agave or the way it is prepared.

    If you saw an agave plant yourself and was able to bottle its contents and prepare it any way you’d like, would you? If you would, does agave nectar still equal bad? If you want to buy it, just buy the kind you trust.

    And one other thing. I will not pretend that I am a historian of some sort, but you cannot convince me that in the history of human existence no one cut an agave plant and figured out how to use it as a sweetener. Maybe agave nectar was produced for the mass market for the first time in the 1990s, but I’m pretty sure people have used it before for multiple uses.

    Fructose list link: http://nutritiondata.self.com/foods-000011000000000000000.html

    • KristenM
      June 11, 2013 | 11:22 am

      The article does mention that there is a traditional, natural sweetener made from agave, but says this is not what MOST so-called “agave nectar” is.

      You can find it in the article, here:

      Native Mexican peoples do make a sort of sweetener out of the agave plant. It’s called miel de agave, and it’s made by boiling the agave sap for a couple of hours. Think of it as the Mexican version of authentic Canadian maple syrup.

      But this is not what most so-called “agave nectar” is.

      So, obviously there is critical thinking required. If the agave you want to buy is processed naturally according to tradition, then buy it! It’s a wholesome, natural sweetener. If it is NOT processed this way, but undergoes a process similar to making high fructose corn syrup, then don’t.

  211. Nursiegrl
    June 11, 2013 | 9:01 am

    So many people are so quick to jump on a bandwagon.I say do more research for yourselves before you “sell the farm”. There are some great honest and true rebuttal comments here that I agree with, based on research (Atlas). People, don’t be sheep! Do your homework and don’t believe everything you hear and read on the internet.

  212. Mary B
    June 11, 2013 | 9:56 am

    Oh dear, it appears your source painted all agave sources with the same brush. Here is one that uses heat, like with maple syrup, instead of enzymes or chemicals to make theirs:
    http://www.wholesomesweeteners.com/AgaveFactsVSFiction.html
    What do you suggest for sweetener, highly processed white stevia powder?

    • KristenM
      June 11, 2013 | 11:17 am

      Both of your questions are answered in the article. It clearly says there is a natural sweetener made from agave here:

      “Native Mexican peoples do make a sort of sweetener out of the agave plant. It’s called miel de agave, and it’s made by boiling the agave sap for a couple of hours. Think of it as the Mexican version of authentic Canadian maple syrup.”

      It also has a header that says, “What natural sweeteners do I recommend?” with this response:

      If you’re interested in what other traditional sweeteners are out there that are actually natural, check out My Natural Sweeteners of Choice.

  213. Denai
    June 13, 2013 | 11:04 pm

    I really enjoyed this article. My daughter just had an anaphylactic shock episode that ended up in an ambulance and hospital. Agave syrup was one of the ingredients in a smoothie I made her just prior too. Certain testing is showing that it is very likely due to the agave syrup. This article shed some light as to why. I am wondering if corn syrup would be recognized similarly in the body?

  214. Silvi
    June 16, 2013 | 9:44 pm

    I have been using agave nectar instead of honey sweetener since January this year, Now 5 months later I have lost 7kg. My visceral Fat is 2% less from 33% now is 31%. I also exercise 40 minutes a day, but I did that before the agave discovery and didn’t have results in losing weight. I am amazed that agave kills my appetite to other types of sugar. I don’t crave chocolate as I used to be a chocoholic before. So maybe there are qualities of the agave, like 0% sodium that play positive role. Nothing is completely good or bad for you, there should always be a balance, that is the most important.

  215. Silvi
    June 16, 2013 | 10:13 pm

    For those people out there that love agave like I do and would like to loose some weight:
    I have calculated, for the past 5 months I have been consuming on average 80 grams of agave syrup per day. I have lost 7 kg (15.4 pounds) in this period of time with 40 minutes exercise 6 days a week, no other sugar for at least 6 days a week but plenty of green salad every day. If you have an addiction to chocolate or any other sweets, the agave will get rid of it, I know that for sure, as once a week I do have a cake or other sweets with friends even though I wouldn’t crave it.

  216. Dick
    June 18, 2013 | 6:15 am

    You perpetuate the erroneous idea that the body can tell the difference between “refined” fructose and none refined fructose. It can’t and for our bodies the source of fructose is indistinguishable. Yes, you might get a molecule of some other mineral with a true natural source of fructose but the real quantity of those micronutrients is small. Fructose is fructose and it is generally not that good for you in large amounts.

  217. AnnMarie Gazsi
    June 29, 2013 | 1:08 pm

    Wow! You just taught me a lot and I’m grateful. Thanks a million for this article. AnnMarie

  218. NaturesComplete
    July 24, 2013 | 4:18 pm

    WOW! very informative. I have seen a lot of articles pushing agave nectar. This is an eye opener. I was probably like 90% of others reading thinking that this stuff has to be good for you. Thank you for this article.

  219. Marie G. Cave
    August 3, 2013 | 8:14 am

    Yesterday I was about to purchase some Agave for the first time, but I hesitated. I said let me make some research before. After reading your informations and comments of many others, I am convince that I will not use this product. thank you, Marie G. Cave

  220. Nick
    August 6, 2013 | 4:37 pm

    First of all, you don’t explain whether the resutling nectar still contains any of the Inulin you talk about. Apparently inulin acts like a fiber and doesn’t get digested by the stomach or small intestine, but is consumed by a bacteria in the large colon whose levels have been inversely coreelated with obesity and type-2 diabetes. I’ve been searching the web for days now and can’t find any useful information on the actually chemical composition of Raw Agave Nectar! I guess I’ll have to analyze a batch myself?

  221. Jack
    August 9, 2013 | 5:15 pm

    Well, as bad as I hated to hear this news about agave nectar, it’s obviously true. Darn! I thought I’d finally found a healthy sweetener that was actually good for you. I had just bought a fresh bottle when I saw this post too. Oh well, now it’s on to something else for a substitute for sugar. Nevertheless, thanks for the post.

  222. Tracy
    August 27, 2013 | 4:22 am

    Loved the article… but won’t repost anything suggesting Stevia, another chemical processed sweetner. The rest was highly informative.

  223. Tracy
    August 27, 2013 | 4:29 am

    Back again… frying pan to fire for many.. please read the side effects also of stevia http://www.livestrong.com/article/368454-known-side-effects-of-stevia/

    eek.

    stevia also is not optimum

  224. Sharon
    September 2, 2013 | 7:43 am

    This is an excellent article; however, when it comes to sugars, if you are a diabetic, many of these natural sugars spike your blood sugar levels. The glycemic index must be taken into consideration. I use stevia, erythritol, and xylitol because all the others raise my blood sugar.

  225. Ruta
    September 4, 2013 | 10:59 am

    Hi there, thank you so much for the post! It does make sense, there is so much chat going on about the good properties of Agave, but I definitely agree on natural being the best. Thank you so much for your extensive post and all the info on other natural sweeteners! I will be more aware to use them in my recipes

  226. carlos
    September 11, 2013 | 12:30 pm

    sorry but this is not true, taking small ammounts af this products doesnt gonna kill you trust me, this is just a war between a massive industry like corn syrup and sugar and some others, against a small industry who was growing very fast and takin some of their market.
    like all products in this world if you take more than you need you will have conssecuences, even water.

    most of the opinions here are made by the person to make a mass impression. its a goliat vs david fight but this time goliat has more resources jaja

  227. KitKuda
    September 15, 2013 | 10:54 am

    I noticed that when someone says anything is fine in moderation or when it is questioned then no one replies to that post but when someone says “But it’s healthy” you reply….

    I think you should mention that it’s not it’s BAD for you, hell too much cocoa butter is bad for you, but that if you do eat it it should be in moderation.

    Because too much of anything is bad for you, and another thing, Wikipedia is NOT a reliable source of information. To that lady to keep posting Wikipedia articles in the comments.

  228. genevieve
    September 29, 2013 | 6:37 pm

    I read all the comments and as far as my oppinion goes, I would not have found this site if in fact I was looking to get some info why I had such a reaction to my first use of this product, I learned things about sugars in general thank you all for the time.

  229. Katie
    October 14, 2013 | 10:45 pm

    You gained credibility with this post. I have tried to tell people why agave is bad for you and so many will not believe me and think I am making it up

  230. Diana
    October 23, 2013 | 8:49 pm

    This was hugely informative thank you.
    Do you have any opinion on xylitol?

  231. Joyce
    November 18, 2013 | 9:43 am

    Thank you for clearing this up!

  232. Doug S. (AKA The Meatless Marathoner)
    November 24, 2013 | 4:18 pm

    As far as brown rice syrup goes, it’s better for you than agave in terms of glucose to fructose ratio (about 1:1). I don’t know how processed it is, though. Maybe somebody else can answer that for me.

    If you buy maple syrup, get it 100% pure.

  233. Jennifer DiMaggio
    November 26, 2013 | 1:43 pm

    Hi, would LOVE to hear your thoughts on Yacon Syrup as a refined sugar alternative… Thx.

  234. Roberta
    November 27, 2013 | 11:34 am

    What about certified organic blue agave? I ejplored their website and it seems to be a good product for me. Because it is sweeter much less is used. I am a diabetic with a leaky gut and one of my allergies is sugar. Certified organic agave is my only option. Please respond as soon as possible!

  235. Pam
    December 3, 2013 | 12:51 pm

    I still wonder. I have agave from Global Goods called Volcanic Nectar. On the bottle it says: Produced below 118 F / 48 C. The purest agave. No sucrose (table sugar), no maltose (corn sugar), lowest amount of natural fructose, lowest glycemic index tested with diabetes.

    I wonder what the labeling really means.

    I wonder how it compares to the products that are boiled or processed in other ways. Or how it compares to the fructose used in Journal of Clinical Investigation article (Whole Health Source)

    More to search out.

  236. Jeanette
    December 3, 2013 | 3:53 pm

    I am surprised that you consume coconut sugar. In researching the pros and cons of this product, I have come to the conclusion that coconut sugar is bad, primarily because of how it is obtained. In the production of coconut sugar the tree is prevented from producing coconuts, and therefore coconut oil.

    Please read up on how this product is produced and make up your own mind as to whether it is a sustainable product or not. Personally, I stick with traditional sweeteners. I too am diabetic (insulin dependent) but find that traditional food is better for a person than all these new products that are not traditional at all. I just use less of the traditional sweeteners.

  237. Heather Jacobsen
    December 18, 2013 | 1:15 pm

    Thank you for clarifying it once and for all. I had heard the “rumor’ but never saw the science behind why agave nectar is bad.

    What about agave crystals? That’s a new product on the market as of this spring. Is the process the same, or by chance a more natural process… ?

    Thanks again!

    Heather

  238. Travin McKain via Facebook
    January 19, 2014 | 9:53 pm

    I don’t use sweeteners. Once in a great while I will buy some raw local honey, maybe once a year.

  239. Debbie Watkins Walker via Facebook
    January 19, 2014 | 10:16 pm

    Boy I was fooled by the “low glycemic index” :/

  240. Kathleen White Smalley via Facebook
    January 20, 2014 | 2:08 am

    I thought it was good too but researched and changed my mind

  241. Maria Driscoll via Facebook
    January 20, 2014 | 4:24 pm

    liquid stevia for me

  242. Rachael Raymond
    January 27, 2014 | 9:10 pm

    Why can agave nectar be labeled “organic” and the ingredient “pure organic agave” if, clearly, thats not whats going on? The bottle I have also states, no artificial sweetners, no artificial colors or flavors, no preservatives, natural sweetner, certified organic by: ecocert ico and usda. Is it because its a product of mexico? Can anything on labels be trusted?

  243. Melissa Cohen via Facebook
    March 22, 2014 | 12:15 pm

    I recently heard that its over processed and its bad

  244. Melissa Cohen via Facebook
    March 22, 2014 | 12:16 pm

    i use xylitol, great stuff !

  245. Sunshine Zöldi Riehl via Facebook
    March 22, 2014 | 1:32 pm

    Old news!! It’s as bad as hfc!

  246. Maggie Lynne Sorgen via Facebook
    March 22, 2014 | 1:46 pm

    we use organic local honey and coconut sugar and nectar.

  247. Joanna Bigras via Facebook
    March 22, 2014 | 3:28 pm

    Kimberley Martinez

  248. Ikneadu Ukneadme via Facebook
    March 22, 2014 | 9:39 pm

    Dear Kristen,
    Thank you for your very informative article on agave nectar. While I was disappointed in the ultimate answer to the original question, I am very happy to have learned the truth before purchasing it based on all the misrepresentation. Furthermore thank you for the link to your “My Natural Sweeteners of Choice” article. I have been using the white stevia powder for several years and it never occurred to me to question why it was such a pure white powder.
    Please keep up the good work.
    William

  249. Nikki Moore via Facebook
    March 22, 2014 | 9:58 pm

    Johanna Trexel

  250. Joanne Cannella via Facebook
    March 23, 2014 | 10:50 am

    Thank you for this info. How about monkfruit sweetener? I saw it on Dr. Oz a while ago and my husband really likes it. I haven’t seen any info on it.

  251. Jeanne
    April 29, 2014 | 6:27 pm

    The ‘expert’ didn’t make any sense when he said that Agave nectar doesn’t come from the agave plant but actually comes from the starch of “the giant pineapple-like, root bulb”.

    What root bulb? (If it’s the agave root, then agave does come from the agave plant. Unless the roots of plants are considered a separate species from the plants they’re attached to.)

  252. serial
    May 16, 2014 | 12:53 pm

    This design is wicked! You certainly know how to keep a reader amused.

    Between your wit and your videos, I was almost
    moved to start my own blog (well, almost…HaHa!) Wonderful job.
    I really enjoyed what you had to say, and more than that, how
    you presented it. Too cool!

  253. Kate
    May 17, 2014 | 8:35 pm

    Hey there.
    I’m desperately trying to sort out my and my children’s diets to something resembling natural foods.
    With three children in four years, food in this house became what ever i could get quickly and with a baby on my hip. I tried to keep it healthy, but have since discovered that what i thought was healthy was actually just low fat, which invariably meant high sugar, high salt and bad fats.
    After a horrific time after my third baby with agonizing eczema on my hands i learned that i had to cut out gluten, cocoa and caffeine from my diet, with great results.
    So now things have changed for the better; lots of whole foods, organic milk, dairy and free range meats, and a huge reduction on sugar and packaged things. It’s a little hard going with the husband, but i hope he’ll come around.
    My big problem is the baking for lunch boxes etc. Having cut out all packaged sweets, I’d like to have some treats for the kids, and they love the baking goodies. I have halved the sugar in most recipes without them even noticing, and have had some success with gluten free grains (and a heck of a lot of failures; we have some fat birds around our place now!)
    Unfortunately almost all recipes that i have found that are low sugar/ gluten free also have nuts of some kind in them. My kids can have nuts (thank heavens) but due to allergies, they’re not allowed to take anything with any nut products to school. So the point of my epic novel is a plea for anyone who has recipes for no refined sugar/ no gluten/ no nut products baking. Sounds a little dull and sad, but i hope to find something that is tasty and the kids will love.
    Thanks heaps

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  255. Very good site you have here but I was wondering if you knew of any forums that cover the same topics talked about here?
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  256. Emily Clark
    May 27, 2014 | 2:57 pm

    Thank you for the article on natural sugars.
    What about fruits? My husband cannot have any type of sugar, especially the “fake” kind, but he eats a good amt of fruit everyday. An article I read from the Mayo Clinic said to eat “some fruit” everyday.
    How much is too much?
    Thanks!

  257. Nancy Jill Natelsky via Facebook
    May 28, 2014 | 7:02 pm

    bad

  258. Nancy Jill Natelsky via Facebook
    May 28, 2014 | 7:03 pm

    highly processed. not much better than corn syrup, really…..

  259. Jeanette Dupree Meyer via Facebook
    May 28, 2014 | 7:09 pm

    Will not touch it.

  260. Chris Edwards Chaney via Facebook
    May 28, 2014 | 7:12 pm

    I think it was a well planned launch so it can be used in place of HFCS and consumers will think the product is now a healthy alternative with the replacement. Frosted Flakes now with Agave…: (

  261. Anji Mae via Facebook
    May 28, 2014 | 7:22 pm

    Allergic to most sweetners.

  262. Shipley Marmion via Facebook
    May 28, 2014 | 7:39 pm

    Raw, local honey or if it has to be in sugar form, evaporated cane sugar

  263. Sara Turner via Facebook
    May 28, 2014 | 7:46 pm

    We are avoiding all sweeteners (except real fruit) but will use xylitol or stevia if we absolutely need something extra.

  264. Mari Morgan via Facebook
    May 28, 2014 | 8:35 pm

    I use the palest agave very rarely, for recipes where I used to use white corn syrup (although Wholesome Sweeteners has an organic corn syrup, I haven’t gotten around to ordering any), when I need a *truly flavorless* sticky sweetener. The local honey is quite strong-tasting, and maple syrup has a distinct flavor of its own that isn’t always appropriate, and rice syrup has a weird taste. Organic cane sugar for dry sweetener, or granulated maple for REALLY SPECIAL (at $20/lb!). Hate the bitter aftertaste of stevia.

  265. maple syrup and honey, and occasionally coconut sugar.

  266. Melvin Mulder via Facebook
    May 29, 2014 | 1:47 pm

    Worse than HFCS. 2 years since eliminating sugar, I no longer see any need for sweeteners of any kind.

  267. Dawn Shatto via Facebook
    May 29, 2014 | 2:23 pm

    Wow! Had me fooled! Thanks Food Renegade for this informative article. I usually only use local honey…and will pitch out the a,nectar.

  268. mary cuthbert
    June 1, 2014 | 1:20 am

    Once again a great example of being bamboozled by food labels. I was of the impression that Agave was a good choice. I do a lot of baking for family and friends and have used molasses, rice syrup, honey and malt extract in the past. Any thoughts on them?

  269. nikko
    June 17, 2014 | 8:20 pm

    I know it has gotten a bad rap lately but the organic variety seems to be a viable choice in moderation. I’m not buying that is it made just like HFC. I use agave to make avocado pudding and when my wife has some it does not cause a spike in her blood sugar.

  270. Bridget
    July 18, 2014 | 6:26 pm

    What do you think of xylitol as an alternative sweetener?

  271. Katheryn Barrett via Facebook
    July 20, 2014 | 7:04 pm

    Save the tequila!!!

  272. Michaela Bitner via Facebook
    July 20, 2014 | 7:52 pm

    I hate the agave in “health foods” its an instant turn down, organic or not.

  273. Dierdre
    July 20, 2014 | 9:14 pm

    http://empoweredsustenance.com/is-stevia-bad-for-you/

    What’s your opinion on this article on stevia?

  274. Leisa
    July 28, 2014 | 6:05 pm

    Thanks for this article. It answered a lot of questions I had and found it very informative. WIll be sticking to maple syrup.

  275. Fredna Hall via Facebook
    August 6, 2014 | 7:21 pm

    I use certified organic stevia mostly

  276. Jonathan Nielsen via Facebook
    August 6, 2014 | 7:28 pm

    Raw honey rules.

  277. Sally Melrose via Facebook
    August 7, 2014 | 5:08 am

    have started using Monk Fruit -

  278. Sierra Vance via Facebook
    August 7, 2014 | 6:33 am

    Thank you for the details of this!! I had no idea it was just like HFCS

  279. Brandi Shaw via Facebook
    August 7, 2014 | 4:58 pm

    Lol ive called it the high fructose corn syrup of the heath community for a while now. You know a company is trying to drive sales with this fake when you find it on a heathy ‘food’ label.

  280. Ericca Littleton Souther via Facebook
    August 8, 2014 | 3:40 pm

    Raw honey. Coconut sugar. Raw turbinado.

  281. WhipQueen
    August 10, 2014 | 5:26 pm

    Wading in here…. I agree with a previous commenter that “it all depends on who’s paying for the research.” It really will affect the “truth or spin” presented. Additionally, the bottom line contains these facts:
    1. The product manufacturer’s focus is generating revenue regardless of the product actualities…. white/brown/agave/stevia sugar or sweeteners, etc.
    2. Marketing mis-information is a key tool consistently used to that end–making money/profit.
    3. Research values can say what you want them to say, depending in the filter you use to evaluate research results.

    The deck is heavily stacked in favor of the above incentives and the entities that benefit from them. Regulations–both manufacturing and labeling–are minimal; therefore something can be labeled “organic” or “natural” when either the product is neither; or because processes move it into man-manipulated/made.

    Here, for me, is the kicker to this review article. WHOLESOME SWEETNERS produces an ORGANIC RAW BLUE AGAVE-FAIR TRADE CERTIFIED labeled agave. Is it also a lie about it’s naturalness, processes, and claim of it being ‘A Low Glycemic Sweetener?’ Wether it is/is not, you list their Coconut Palm Sugar as a legitimate option for those concerned with Agave’s negative truths as presented here/elsewhere.

    Not trying to be a jerk….and genuinely puzzled by the endorsement if the company is being dishonest with the agave. Thank you

  282. Nikki
    August 10, 2014 | 9:36 pm

    What about Wholesome Sweeteners Organic Agave Nectar? Their site states that their process for extracting the fructose is simply to quickly heat it to a high heat cool it (using a cold water pump) and then to physically filter it through “National Organic Program-approved diatomaceous earth (a sedimentary rock created from fossilized hard shelled algae)” and the “raw” Agave is simply heated at a lower temp for longer amounts of time and filtered in the same manner, would that still be bad for you considering it is not chemically treated?

  283. Debra
    August 29, 2014 | 7:50 am

    Hi: I just read this on Agave Nectar which surprised me. Food channel always use it & I should have read this article first. On items I make myself I would rather use just plain ole sugar. I did purchase the Agave Nectar because some of my recipes has that as an ingredient. I purchased MADHAVA Agave Nectar & I would like to write what it says on the bottle. “Madhava Agave Nectar is an all natural sugar replacement made from the juice of the Weber Blue Agave plant. It’s a simple plant based food that is a healthy alternative to processed sugar & artificial sweeteners”. Would this be considered not true & can cause health issues for those who have a condition & cannot have processed sugar or artificial sweeteners? My dad has diabetes & I was going to suggest this but now I’m not sure.

    Any help with be appreciated.

    Thank you
    Debra

    The ingredients on the bottle has “100% pure organic blue agave nectar”

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Who Am I?

My name is Kristen Michaelis. I'm a nutrition educator, author, and mother of three. I adore hats, happy skirts, horizons full of storm clouds, the full-bodied feel of wind as I ride motorcylces, reading in my hammock, and a hearty shot of Caol Ila scotch. I'm also a rebel with a cause.