Among the relatively new roles for agaves is as a sweetener. These are seen as a more natural alternative to ordinary granulated sugar and the ubiquitous high-fructose corn syrups.
Agave syrup is usually processed in Mexico from either wild or cultivated plants. Then, the syrup is sold to American food processors.
Before buying agave syrups or other foods you aren’t familiar with, be sure that the product serves your nutritional and health needs. Unlike granulated sugar, the agave syrup is low glycemic, which means it doesn’t cause extreme rises and falls in one’s blood sugar. In general low glycemic products are gentler on the pancreas. According to the manufacturer of the agave sticks, this has a low glycemic index of 39, so in that respect it may
be similar to honey.
When it comes to agave syrups, you’ll find that a number of different brands are available. The syrup is 90% fructose, according to Aunt Patty’s brand. It is recommended by manufacturers for those on low sugar diets. In addition to plain agave syrup, Aunt Patty’s also recommends a Blue Agave syrup, which is sold in a light and a dark version. According to Aunt Patty’s, this is processed from plants growing in the mountains of Jalisco, Mexico.
There can be slight differences from one kind of agave syrup to another. According to Aunt Patty’s, the Blue Agave syrup has a higher fructose content than ordinary agave syrup.
Be aware there does seem to be some very slight difference in the nutritional analysis of the various agave syrups, which are also called nectars. An article in Parade magazine in 2009 indicated the Xagave brand
provided 56 calories per tablespoon, while sugar contained 50.
Agave syrup is touted as a low glycemic product, which can’t be said for plain sugar. In studies, researchers found that the glycemic count of various honeys was between 62 and 83, while for the agave it was only 11 to 19.
According to experts, the sweetness of agave syrups can generally range anywhere from 25 to 45 per-cent sweeter than sugar. But the exact level depends on the variety of agave that is used to make the product.
Experts do agree that agave syrup is a low glycemic product because the body digests the fructose at a slower rate than it does plain sugar. For that reason, some medical experts are recommending agave syrup for certain insulin-related condition.