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Sally Fallon on Agave Nectar: “High Fructose Agave Syrup”

April 24, 2009 · 36 comments

A few highlights from Sally Fallon in the latest Wise Traditions:

  • Agave Nectar is advertised as a “diabetic friendly”, raw, and “100% natural sweetener.”  Yet it is none of these.
  • Agave nectar is a newly created sweetener, having been developed during the 1990’s.
  • Even though, like corn, agave is a starch and fiber food processed with enzymes, it does not require the label “High Fructose Corn Syrup”.
  • While high fructose agave syrup won’t spike your blood glucose levels (due to its inulin content), the fructose in it may cause mineral depletion, liver inflammation, hardening of the arteries, insulin resistance leading to diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and obesity. agave

If you become a member of the Weston A. Price Foundation, you will receive the quarterly Wise Traditions Journal – I devour mine as soon as it comes.  You can read the rest of this article there. (It’s $40/year unless you’re a senior, a student, disabled or unemployed, then it’s $25.)

By the way, there are a lot of intelligent commenters here at my site, and at the My Dark Secrets post, scroll down to the comments and you’ll learn a LOT more about Agave Nectar.    :)

Read more on sugars and the best choices!

photo by Health Guy
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  • { 31 comments… read them below or add one }

    1 Katie April 24, 2009 at 11:07 am

    Well, I’m glad to learn this. I had no idea, and was using agave from time to time when I could afford it. Thanks for the info, back to raw honey for us! :)

    Katie

    Reply

    2 Katie April 24, 2009 at 11:08 am

    Do you know anything about “Honey Succanat”? A friend is procuring some for me, and I was wondering if you know anything about it and your thoughts on it.

    Katie

    Reply

    3 Julie April 24, 2009 at 2:13 pm

    I had such hope for agave. Sigh. Need to stick to raw honey and organic maple syrup I guess!

    Julie

    Reply

    4 Kelly April 25, 2009 at 8:28 am

    Katie, sorry I haven’t heard of that, keep us posted!

    Julie, I know, I was sad too, because it worked so well in everything, now I know why!

    Reply

    5 Karen April 25, 2009 at 10:26 am

    Volcanic Nectar blue agave nectar (and no, I”m not affiliated with them) is certified “Diabetic Friendly” by the Glycemic Research Institute (GRI) of Washington, D.C., a non-profit agency that is the only one of its kind accredited by the FDA: http://www.glycemic.com/index.htm . I don’t think anyone should guzzle sweeteners of any kind, especially if blood sugar is an issue, but tarring them all with the same brush is irresponsible.

    Reply

    6 Wardeh @ GNOWFGLINS April 25, 2009 at 11:55 am

    Kelly,

    As a user of agave for several years now, I admit that I am dismayed to hear this. On the whole, my family limits use of sweeteners. But still, we like to make the best choices for health, so I can see that I am going to have to delve in on this topic! I appreciate all the links in your post to guide me in further research.

    ~Wardeh

    Reply

    7 Rosy April 25, 2009 at 12:10 pm

    I love agave in my tea. Honey just isn’t as yummy to me in my orange peako cut tea, but it delisious in green teas of all kinds. I don’t like stevia. Maybe I could try coconut or palm sugar…..Off to the little viatnam to the Big Orental Mart!

    Reply

    8 Rebecca from Michigan April 26, 2009 at 7:08 pm

    I don’t have agave nectar and have a recipe that calls for this. Can I replace this with honey or maple syrup? It is for a Fudgy Black Bean Brownines. Can’t wait to make this tomorrow afternooon.

    Reply

    9 jpatti April 27, 2009 at 12:20 am

    The person who stated that it didn’t raise blood glucose; fructose does not raise blood glucose, that is true. However, fructose raises blood triglycerides tremendously. Hardening up your arteries until you have coronary disease is no great health achievement regardless of what the bg meter says.

    Fructose is much more dangerous to diabetics than even plain white sugar (which is only half fructose) since a diagnosis of diabetes already increases the risk of heat disease to the equivalent of someone who’s already had a heart attack.

    Tight bg control is necessary for health, but not sufficient. And in particular, fructose is nearly poison for diabetics.

    Reply

    10 Kelly April 28, 2009 at 2:11 am

    Karen, I get your point, but I don’t totally trust the FDA and rely much more on other information instead.

    Wardeh, feel free to post any new findings here! :)

    Rebecca, sorry I didn’t see this earlier, hopefully however you did it it turned out this afternoon. I replace sugars with maple syrup or honey with a lot of success, especially chocolate recipes. Maybe even half of each?

    Thanks everyone for jumping in the discussion!

    Reply

    11 Nichole May 15, 2009 at 8:29 am

    I thought the book SAID to use agave nectar??? Now I’m confused, why all the contradictory info. in the book?

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    12 nichole May 15, 2009 at 8:43 am

    Oh NO! It doesn’t say anything about Agave! Not sure WHY I thought it did?!!! anyone have any info. on the Yes Rapadura/No Sucanat contradiction? I was at the health food store yesterday, and used my best guess that the sucanat made by rapadura was what she was speaking of in the book? no? I couldn’t find anything called “rapadura”

    Reply

    13 matthew fallon May 21, 2009 at 4:21 pm

    with such a fine family name as Fallon, how could you NOT trust her! haha
    (no relation by the way,,,i dont think???)

    i recently attended a potluck/lecture with brian clement,wild dude but very informative…his stance is the same concerning agave,so i ditched it completely,never liked it anyway its too watery/syrupy…he also lists ALL sugars (fructose,glucose,sucrose..) including raw honey (my personal fav and only sweetener besides whole dates/fruits/berries )etc etc.. as the leading cause of all health problems..dont quote me verbatim but i’m close …. and frankly i tend to agree with him on that,certainly makes sense.. i have a big sweet tooth but can also “Handle the truth!” many people dont want to hear that..
    i wont drop raw local honey,as it has other benefits,but will try to use sparingly~

    namaste’
    matthew fallon

    Reply

    14 Kelly May 23, 2009 at 8:59 am

    Nichole, see these two posts for answers to your sugar questions: http://kellythekitchenkop.com/category/sugars-naturalagave-nectar-info

    Matthew, I’m with you, I love my sugar, but don’t lie to myself: I know it’s bad stuff. I’m muuuuuuch better than I used to be but still have a ways to go!

    Reply

    15 Karen July 9, 2009 at 2:20 pm

    Sigh,I am still so dismayed by the agave nectar findings. I know there really are no ‘healthy sweeteners’ (save raw honey for certain issues) and I, too, could benefit from eliminating altogether (then there’s reality.)
    Nichole, here is a blurb from Rapadura’s website (consider the source):
    What’s the difference between Rapadura and Sucanat?
    The way it is processed! Although very similar in appearance and taste, Rapadura is made by just evaporating the water from the organic sugar cane juice. Sucanat is manufactured in a way that the sugar stream and the molasses stream is separated from each other and then carefully re-blended to reach a consistent product. The taste and appearance of Rapunzel’s Rapadura on the other hand can vary according to sugar cane variety, soil type and weather. But it is a whole product in its true sense.

    Karen

    Reply

    16 Kelly July 10, 2009 at 8:43 am

    Karen, I’m sighing with you…… :)

    Reply

    17 Rachel August 22, 2009 at 11:58 pm

    I had my suspicions about agave nectar, but didn’t want to believe it until I saw convincing evidence. To me, it has the closest taste to sugar of all the alternative sweeteners that I’ve had. I’m totally bummed. Especially since I just bought a container of vanilla flavored coconut milk “ice cream” (which, unfortunately, uses agave as its sweetener). Does anyone have a recipe for coconut milk ice cream or know of a brand that uses a different sweetener?

    Reply

    18 KitchenKop August 23, 2009 at 12:02 am

    Hi Rachel,

    I know, don’t you hate it when something you thought was “good” turns out to be “bad” after all?

    Try taking any recipe you find for the coconut milk ice cream, and replacing the sweetener with maple syrup – that’s what I use in our homemade ice cream and it’s SO good.

    Kelly

    Reply

    19 Charmer April 8, 2010 at 10:34 am

    I have been using Xagave (brand name) in place of maple syrup for my children for about 3 years now because my children don’t like the taste of the the real maple syrup. My youngest daughter (8 years) that lives mostly on whole wheat pancakes has had no cavities in the last 3 years and she never brushes her teeth. My son (10 years) has had any cavities also. Xagave also has other minerals in it, so why would it deplete your bodies mineral supply? In the last 6 months I haven’t used Xagave and at the last dentist appointment my son was told he has a cavity in one of his baby teeth. I was using homemade syrup on the pancakes made of water and sugar for the last 6 months.

    Reply

    20 KitchenKop April 8, 2010 at 4:39 pm

    Hi Charmer,
    I’m wondering how things are in the rest of your diet? Just curious because while I don’t use Agave Nectar or recommend it anymore for the above reasons, I’m not sure if the cavities vs. no cavities would be all due to using this or not. It’s hard to say. Has anything else changed in your diets recently? Do you eat mostly whole foods, get plenty of animal fats, and generally follow a traditional diet overall? Do you make pancakes with soaked grains so the phytic acid in the flour is broken down and not preventing mineral absorption?
    Just some of my thoughts…
    OH, one more thing. If the real maple syrup is too strong flavored for your kids, try finding grade A maple syrup that isn’t as strong.
    Kelly

    Reply

    21 Charmer April 8, 2010 at 10:39 pm

    The pancakes I make are made in the blender from soft white wheat berries and I add a little flaxseed (I’ve done this for about 5 years). I have only done the soaking maybe 6 times, but it has all been during the last 6 months. My daughter probably eats pancakes 3 or 4 mornings a week and snacks on the left overs all day. My son who had the cavity does eat school lunch most days now, where he didn’t use to as much. My daughter takes a home lunch most days. I have been following the traditional diet for the past year and try to get my family to do the same. I buy raw milk and have used butter and good oils. I give my son cod liver oil when I remember, but he doesn’t like the milk very much. I will make egg nog to get my kids to drink it. I have not had to take my kids to the doctor for any illnesses in the past 5 years. If the choice is between sugar/water syrup or raw Xagave which one would you choose? I just bought 3 gallons. I will try grade A maple syrup.

    Reply

    22 KitchenKop April 8, 2010 at 11:03 pm

    I’d have to say that I’d make my own syrup with sugar & water. (You could use Maple sugar and make it more or less “strong” depending on how much water you use.)
    Kelly

    Reply

    23 Jamie April 27, 2010 at 12:48 am

    Charmer~

    I use Sucanat (which is now processed the same as Rapadura, so they are on equal footing… but check your brands! I use Wholesome Sweetners) mixed in a saucepan with a bit of water and frozen berries or peaches to make a fruit “compote” to top pancakes with. The kids LOVE it. You can also use the Grade A Light Maple Kelly recommended with the fruit and you get a lighter syrup (honey works as well). Another option is to soak some dates in water overnight and blend, then you can heat a bit if desired.

    For the pancakes, if you mix the water and wheat berries up at night with 1-2 Tbs of apple cider vinegar (per cup of water) and just let it sit in the blender overnight, then finish adding the other ingredients and preparing them in the morning. I make blender muffins this way and they are a huge hit!

    One of my daughters enjoys only real butter on her hotcakes… the rest enjoy the syrup.

    Hope this helps!

    Reply

    24 Colette November 22, 2010 at 12:49 pm

    Thanks for the advice and tips. My husband and I have started a new business so I haven’t keep in touch with this sight like I would like as much. I appreciate your help.

    Reply

    25 Sara August 22, 2010 at 4:14 pm

    I’m avoiding processed sugar for fibromyalgia reasons & jones’ing for chocolate chip cookies this afternoon. While looking for a recipe, I found this site. My dad has RA & has been off processed sugar for 2 years. He uses agave, & products made with agave & has had NO flare-ups as a byproduct of these usages. Sometimes, I feel like there’s no balance in these discussions & frankly, I would not wish this particular dietary lifestyle on anyone (I’m not overweight & very healthy otherwise). Why are so many folks avoiding ALL sugar unless they have a real health reason to do so? I believe in moderation and balance. My body is not in balance, so I’m changing my diet to get it there. Why are others on this campaign trail?

    Reply

    26 KitchenKop August 28, 2010 at 2:19 am

    Sarah, sorry I’m just now getting back to you!
    I can only tell you what the deal is with myself. If I shoot for NO sugar or very little, then I’ll *actually* end up with much less than if I say to myself “all in moderation!” Others, like Anna who comments here often, knows she has pre-diabetes symptoms and wants to catch it before it goes south. And others know that sugar is just no good and messes up any real weight loss efforts. Everyone probably has different reasons, but I’m willing to bet that most are like me, and while we know we should seriously limit sugar in our lives, we still have a loooong way to go.

    Reply

    27 Kristen Chocheli July 10, 2011 at 7:18 pm

    Dr. Group says in this article: http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/is-agave-nectar-safe/ written in Nov. 2009, that he regards organic, minimally processed Agave nectar to be beneficial. He explains that highly processed products calling themselves organic are actually only refined high-fructose syrups, and that these are the agave “frauds” that cause the long list of dangerous side-effects. He actually recommended the brand that you show in the picture above, saying that it is from a trusted source and is not cooked.
    What are your thoughts on this?

    Reply

    28 KitchenKop July 10, 2011 at 8:00 pm

    Very interesting. I can’t even tell from the pic what brand that is (I got the pic from Flickr). Even if all that is true (I’m not saying it’s not, I just haven’t looked into it), since that was 2009, I wonder if all that is still the case. By now I’ve found other favorite sweeteners (palm sugar!), so I don’t really need to use Agave anyway, but for those that want to, this is something to definitely look into more. Thank you!

    Kelly

    Reply

    29 Genevieve January 12, 2012 at 5:08 pm

    I stopped using agave just a month or so ago because I believed that I should avoid it, without really looking into why.. Today I came across a website (from David Wolfe) that gives more information on how raw agave nectar is made. I’m now thinking that agave isn’t so bad after-all.. Although it’s 90% fructose, I don’t believe that proves to be a problem for ANYONE! :] Here’s what changed my viewpoint on raw agave -> http://www.sunfood.com/pages/agave-nectar-the-sweet-details This site will lead you to a bunch of other resources in debunking the myth that raw agave nectar shouldn’t be consumed.

    Reply

    30 marie August 13, 2014 at 4:34 pm

    It must not be true anymore it was removed on Sunfood website…

    Reply

    31 marie August 13, 2014 at 4:48 pm

    Agave “nectar” is not made from the sap of the yucca or agave plant but from the starch of the giant pineapple-like, root bulb. The principal constituent of the agave root is starch, similar to the starch in corn or rice, and a complex carbohydrate called inulin, which is made up of chains of fructose molecules.Technically a highly indigestible fiber, inulin, which does not taste sweet, comprises about half of the carbohydrate content of agave.

    The process by which agave glucose and inulin are converted into “nectar” is similar to the process by which corn starch is converted into HFCS. The agave starch is subject to an enzymatic and chemical process that converts the starch into a fructose-rich syrup—anywhere from 70 percent fructose and higher according to the agave nectar chemical profiles posted on agave nectar websites.

    Reply

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