Careful with the use of Agave “Nector”, it’s not as good/healthy as it’s promoted and there are better alternatives to use in gels.
“Agave ranks relatively low on the glycemic index however, it is because it has a high content of fructose. Fructose does not readily raise blood sugar (glucose) levels because the body doesn’t metabolize it well. As it turns out, agave has a higher fructose content than any other common sweetener, more even than high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). Because of its reputation as a “natural” sweetener, it is now widely used in products claiming to be good for health – from teas to nutrition bars and energy drinks.”
Agave nectar doesn’t really exist; it just sounds healthier than agave syrup.
Agave started being produced commerciallyin the 90s, when manufacturers worked out a highly complicated refining plan to make it a global hit. Manufacturers age agave plants for 7-14 years. When the plants reach maturity, the leaves are cut off so the starchy part of the plant, which is the core and roots, is easily harvested. The juice is squeezed from the pulp of the agave, filtered, and heated to separate into simple sugars.
Once they get to this stage, manufacturers further concentrate the liquid into a syrup that’s just a little thinner than commercially processed honey. You’ll find varieties in the store that range from light amber color like honey, to dark brown hues like molasses. Consumers thought the different colors of agave were like the variety of colors you find when you buy honey, which typically represents the type of blossoms the honeybees found their nectar from.
However, mistakes aside, this whole process of converting carbs to syrup isn’t easy. In fact, manufacturers have to use a ton of caustic acids, chemicals, and clarifiers to make it presentable for sale. This process is very similar to how commercially produced high fructose corn syrup is made.
So what happens when you refine agave this much? Well, you’re left with a syrup that’s so sweet it rivals high fructose corn syrup.
Here are some numbers to consider:
- Honey is about 40% fructose
- Regular table sugar is 50% fructose, 50% glucose
- High fructose corn syrup is about 55% fructose, 45% glucose
- Agave “nectar” can be 70-90% fructose
Agave is higher in fructose than some other sources, but its overall sugar content is about the same. It’s not much different from high fructose corn syrup.