To Sweet or Not to Sweet


You’ve seen me reference this sweetener before. It really is great! Agave nectar comes in light, amber, and dark…not to mention other variations infused with flavors like hazelnut and vanilla. You can use agave as a replacement to sugar and other sweeteners like honey. It does have calories so it’s not a sugar substitute in that regard.

Agave nectar, or “honey water”, is extracted from the same plant from which tequila is made (And no, you cannot get drunk from guzzling agave). Agave companies are claiming it is lower on the glycemic index (GI of 11-30), a natural sweetener for diabetics, and it’s about 40% sweeter than sugar so less of it can be used but know that science does not support these claims. I find the GI concept very interesting because it seems that most of your low GI foods are the foods that Grandma has been telling you to eat since you were little: fruits, veggies, beans, and whole grains. Low GI foods do not give you a quick blood sugar spike but rather allows it to increase slowly over time.

Pure maple syrup and has a higher degree of sweetness than table sugar. Syrup and agave have comparable calories per serving but agave still has a lower GI (54). It can also turn out to be twice the price of agave. Honey also provides a degree of sweetening if you like that honey flavor. It has a higher GI (65-80). Brown sugar is made by adding molasses to granulated white sugar (GI 67). Nutrition analysis shows that brown sugar has slightly less calories and carbohydrates per serving.

So, to sweet or not to sweet? That is the question. Science doesn’t support that using artificial sweeteners cause cancer and science doesn’t support that other sugar derivatives like agave and honey are any healthier than plain table sugar. The bottom line is that caloric (and noncaloric) sweeteners should always be used in moderation. Sugar is an easy way to consume unnecessary calories so just keep an eye on your daily consumption. Drink water more often, include low calorie foods like fruits and veggies in all of your meals, and then you’ll have a little room for adding agave to your tea or coffee.

I’ve tried a few different brands and have been happy with all of them. Madhave, Ohagave!, and Wholesome Sweeteners Organic Blue are the ones I’ve tried and I’ve saved money by buying my nectar at Marshall’s or TJ Maxx but I’ve found it at the typical grocery store.

Have an awesome evening!


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