Thursday, 17 May 2012

The Sickly Truth About Agave Nectar

Pin It Now!

My god It’s true! I have a sweet tooth.  I've said it.  In fact, I eat something sweet every day.  Imagine my delight when I stumbled upon Agave Nectar.  The label promised a low glycaemic index.  Indeed I found this to be true.

A quick literature search told me that Agave nectar is quoted to hold a low glycaemic index of around 11, as published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

This is an incredibly low index, considering that glycaemic index refers to how quickly a carbohydrate food is broken down and then released as glucose in your blood (commonly referred to also as blood sugars).

On reading the nutrition label, I was slightly shocked to learn that 1 teaspoon of this sickly nectar provided 14kcal, so no different to regular sugar.  To learn more about nutrition labelling, see my article Be Shopping Savvy.

What is Agave Nectar?
Sourced from a plant in Mexico where tequila is made, many consider this as a ‘natural sweetener’.  The label behind the bottle certainly quoted ‘Agave Nectar comes straight from the originally grown Blue Webber Agave Plant in Mexico’.  Premium agars are considered to be sourced from Blue Webber Agave plant.

What does it feel and taste like?
I tried it today with strawberries.  I was pleased that it wasn’t sticky like golden syrup and was certainly much lighter in its consistency.  To me it resembled very much like honey.  It was pleasant tasting without an after taste.  I could happily have this on my plain Scottish oats instead of brown sugar for breakfast.

It can even be used in cooking or baking without the bitter after taste that may be produced when cooking with alternative sweeteners.

Too good to be true?
Maybe so.  The ravaging truth is found in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics which showed that when compared to dark molasses, sweeteners such as refined sugar, corn syrup and agave nectar had minimal antioxidant activity. 

After molasses, maple syrup, honey and brown sugar showed the highest antioxidant activity.  Antioxidants are crucial in reducing oxidative damage that have been linked with cardiovascular disease and cancers.

BUT Before you rush off to load your plates with maple syrups and honey, did you know that fruit and vegetables are abundant in antioxidants?  I’ve enjoyed my antioxidant load with strawberries today, what will you have?

The Purple Verdict

I am not entirely convinced that this is a wonder product.  I regret my purchase but glad that I've given it a try.  Low glycaemic index or not, calorie restriction is vital for weight loss.  I normally wouldn't have eaten my strawberries with any added sugar!  I think I might be returning this sickly sweetness back into the cupboard, until I decide to bake something.  Perhaps my banana cake, see Banana & Pecan Delight.

If you’d like to share your knowledge on agave nectar, then please do comment below!


  1. I was thinking, if you normally have sugar in your coffee or could always replace white sugar with agave nectar to avoid those blood sugar highs...

  2. good post folks need a dietitians perspective on these things

  3. Im on the fence with Agave

    Positive- GI index,
    Negative- I think it makes your palate accustomed to more sweet foods because of the high frutose content.

    I think sugar is sugar whether its corn syrup, refined, raw. All sugar is problematic and inatke should be minimal.

  4. Great article, I LOVE agave nectar and always use it as a sweetener. Interesting to hear it spoken of on both sides of the fence!