Agave Nectar – Safe for Your Blood Sugar?
Last week I fielded a question on my Facebook page on the pro’s and con’s of artificial sweeteners and a product was brought up that I was not all to familiar with, that product, agave nectar. As a type 1 diabetic and not a fan of any artificial sweetener (hello sucralose), I decided to take a look and see what this “natural” alternative is all about.
Agave nectar is a natural sweetener, valued as a vegan alternative to honey and touted for its low glycemic index. Foods with a higher glycemic index (GI) tend to trigger a greater surge in blood sugar and insulin—the hormone that helps the sugar get into cells—just after eating. (These spikes can be particularly problematic for those with diabetes. High-GI foods also tend to make you hungry again sooner because they’re digested quickly.)
According to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, agave’s GI value is about five times lower than table sugar’s. Currently no studies compare how, relative to other sugars, agave may affect blood-sugar control, but based on the buzz agave’s been generating, we’ll likely see research in the near future.
Agave Nectar Glycemic Values By Comparison:
Organic Agave Nectar 27
Fructose (fruit sugar) 32
Lactose (milk sugar) 65
High fructose corn syrup 89
Sucrose (sugar) 92
Glucose tablets 146
Health Benefits Of Agave Nectar:
Agave nectar contains saponins and fructans. According to Dr. Sahelian, saponins, which are found on quinoa and many plant roots, including ginseng, have anti-inflammatory and immune system-boosting properties, including antimicrobial capability. In fact, the Aztecs used agave syrup to treat wounds because of its antibacterial properties. Inulin is a type of fructan or fiber that has many health benefits. Studies suggest that inulin can be effective in weight loss because of its low impact on blood sugar and its ability to increase satiety and decrease appetite. Inulin is also associated with lowering cholesterol, reducing the risk of certain cancers, and increasing the absorption of nutrients, such as isoflavones, calcium and magnesium. Inulin can also be found in some varieties of yogurt.