Photo by Caitlin Covington
Even if it is “natural,” we still have our doubts about agave nectar. This sugar substitute is made from the same plant as tequila, but that doesn’t necessarily make it healthy — or any better than plain old white sugar! Agave is praised for it’s low impact on blood sugar levels, but that benefit is a result of its extremely high fructose content (as opposed to glucose, the type of sugar measured in the blood).
In fact, agave syrup has even more fructose than the dreaded high fructose corn syrup, and that fructose can have a negative impact on organs like the liver and kidneys. But that doesn’t mean agave is all bad — it’s just not as good as the marketing may lead you to believe. It can still a good sugar alternative occasionally (and when used in small amounts), since it is naturally sweeter than sugar and has a subtler flavor than maple syrup or honey.
The Takeaway: Due to its high fructose content, agave nectar isn’t as healthy as we may have previously thought. You don’t need to cut it out completely, but consider trying other natural sugar alternatives, like honey, in its place.
What to Swap
Just to really prove the point, we’ve rounded up 30 sugar alternatives for you. Yup, agave’s one of them, but there are 29 others — and some even have additional health benefits.
Christopher Columbus is actually responsible for bringing sugar to the New World. You have our permission to blame him for that sweet tooth!