Agave syrup is derived from the plant’s sap. One specific species of agave commonly sourced is Agave tequilana, the same plant from which the alcoholic beverage tequila is made.
The plant needs to reach a certain maturity, around 7-14 years, before it is ready to be harvested for its sap. The main carbohydrate found in this nectar is called inulin which is a complex sugar (polysaccharide) mostly composed of fructose. To turn the nectar into the sweetener, the complex sugar compounds need to be separated from the other component substances and broken down into simple sugar.
Agave syrup is light colored and less dense than honey. It is used in cooking and baking in much the same way as honey or maple syrup. The fact that it comes from extracted nectar probably makes it easy to misunderstand that agave syrup is a natural sweetener.
Keep reading to know more about what agave syrup really is and its negative effects on your health.
Agave Syrup Health Risks
In truth agave syrup shares a lot of characteristics with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). Some manufacturers of the sweetener even try to achieve the same fructose concentrations of 55% and 90%. The method of turning the complex carbohydrates in raw agave nectar into a concentrated simple sugar follows a similar process of heating, filtering and microbial fermentation.
The sap or nectar of whichever species of agave is sourced may start out as having phytonutrients. But by the time it reaches grocery shelves it’s really nothing more than fructose and water. It’s a safe bet then that the health risks presented by HFCS also applies to agave syrup.
This means that those suffering from fructose intolerance should just as carefully avoid including agave syrup in their diet. The same caution is given to everyone else in order to lower risks of obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
There are studies that link fructose with insulin resistance and other conditions that set the stage for such diseases. Then there are scientific reviews that state most studies done on fructose are inconclusive and do not present definitive evidence that fructose is any better or worse than all the other simple sugars. Whatever the case may be, the fact remains that over-consumption of highly refined carbohydrates is not a balanced way of eating and can only bring about a negative impact on your health.
If you’re looking for something more similar to maple syrup, then raw sap of agave would be it. In the Central American regions where this is traditionally used in cooking, the extract is called miel de maguey. Almost like maple syrup, the sap is boiled for a stretch and the result is a dark thick liquid. This particular syrup still contains minerals such as calcium, potassium and magnesium. It has a distinctly strong flavor and is not exactly a sweetener, not in the way the Western diet defines the term.
In the next post, I’ll tell you about the negative effects of aspartame and why you should avoid it to succeed in your quest to Become Superhuman.
In the meantime, if you care to jump ahead, here is a complete listing of the herbs, spices and sweeteners on Superhuman Food Pyramid:
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