Agave nectar consists primarily of fructose and glucose. One source[ gives 92% fructose and 8% glucose; another gives 56% fructose and 20% glucose. These differences presumably reflect variation from one vendor of agave nectar to another. Due to its fructose content and the fact that the glycemic index measures only glucose levels, agave nectar is notable in that its glycemic index and glycemic load are lower than many other natural sweeteners on the market.
However, the extremely high percentage of fructose can be deleterious and can trigger fructose malabsorption, metabolic syndrome[ hypertriglyceridemia, decreased glucose tolerance, hyperinsulinemia, and accelerated uric acid formation.
Agave nectar is said by one supplier to be 1.4 to 1.6 times sweeter than sugar. Agave nectar is often substituted for sugar or honey in recipes. Vegans in particular commonly use agave nectar to replace honey in recipes. It is also used as a sweetener for cold beverages such as iced tea because it can dissolve quickly.
Agave nectars are sold in light, amber,
dark, and raw varieties.
Light agave nectar has a mild, almost neutral flavor, and is therefore sometimes used in delicate tasting foods and drinks. Amber agave nectar has a medium-intensity caramel flavor, and is therefore used in foods and drinks with stronger flavors. Dark agave nectar has stronger caramel notes, and imparts a distinct flavor to dishes, such as some desserts, poultry, meat, and seafood dishes. Both amber and dark agave nectar are sometimes used "straight out of the bottle" as a topping for pancakes and waffles. Raw agave nectar also has a mild, neutral taste. It is produced at temperatures below 118 °F (48 °C) to protect the natural enzymes, so this variety is an appropriate sweetener for raw foodists.
***One of the most health-promoting properties of agave nectar is its favorable glycemic profile. Its sweetness comes primarily from a complex form of fructose called inulin. Fructose is the sugar that occurs naturally in fruits and vegetables. The carbohydrate in agave nectar has a low glycemic index, which provides sweetness without the unpleasant "sugar rush" and unhealthful blood sugar spike caused by many other sugars. Agave nectar is a delicious natural sweetener that can be used moderately - by dieters, some diabetics, and health conscious cooks - to replace high-glycemic and refined sugars.
Organic Agave Nectar 27
Fructose (fruit sugar) 32
Lactose (milk sugar) 65
High fructose corn syrup 89
Sucrose (sugar) 92
Glucose tablets 146
Serving Size: 1 serving (21.0g)
Amount per serving
A sweetener made from the juice of a Mexican cactus is an increasingly common ingredient in bottled teas, energy drinks, nutrition bars and desserts from health food stores.
In just the last few years, agave syrup's popularity has soared: The number of agave products on the market more than tripled between 2003 and 2007, according to market analysis firm Data Monitor. This year, a major food manufacturer -- McCormick & Co. -- placed the syrup on its list of top 10 flavors for 2009. In addition to being an ingredient in many foods, bottles of the syrup are now sold in many stores.
Some experts attribute agave's popularity to its delicate taste. The syrup, sometimes called agave nectar, is up to three times as sweet as table sugar, so it takes less of it to sweeten, say, a cup of tea or a cake recipe. Chefs and food scientists also attribute agave's recent popularity surge to its reputation for being a more healthful alternative to sugar.
A DEBATE ABOUT AGAVE on Care2: