Agave Nectar: The Great Debate

There is a lot of talk about agave nectar in the health community. Producers market it as a flowing, heavenly, super syrup, guaranteed to sweeten your food and keep you healthy with a low glycemic index (LGI). Some health experts claim that it is heavily processed, and just as bad (if not worse) than high fructose corn syrup. When I started that reading people were ditching agave nectar because it’s the equivalent to HFCS, I admit, I got pretty defensive.

Bottle of agave nectar I just finished.
Newly emptied bottle of agave.

I was confused (and still sorta am), how can a company say their product has a low glycemic index, yet a doctor claims it doesn’t? Hence the reason for my research and this article. I’ll cut to the punchline: Purchase agave nectar from companies you trust and eat it in moderation.

Dr. Mercola’s letter and other health gurus are generalizing all agave and seem to be over exaggerating “negative” health facts. A number of manufacturers openly dispute these “facts”.

Part of the problem stems from the marketing on agave. The fact of the matter is that agave doesn’t flow out of the big thick leaves of the plants and straight into your bottle. It is processed, sometimes with high or low heat, and sometimes with chemicals. It may or may not be raw, organic, and it may not have a LGI. It is true that some companies piggyback off the claims of higher quality brands-which is where the issues come up.

However, there ARE brands that are organic, raw, and not void of all nutrients.

Solution: Buy from companies you trust and do your research! I’ve found a few companies post their processes for producing agave online, or you can contact them directly.

If you want raw agave, make sure you check the label and if it doesn’t say raw or that it’s been kept under temps of 118° F. I thought that all agave was raw and assumed I was always buying a raw product. It wasn’t always the case.

Vegan waffles with agave instead of maple syrup
Agave instead of maple syrup.

Check *where* it has it’s certifications from. If it says organic, look for the USDA organic logo. If it claims to have a LGI check to see if it’s US certified or from another country that has different standards.

Other than that, do your own research, and listen to your body. Take clever marketing and negative hype with a grain of salt.

Some other info:

Dr. Mercola’s (scary) article This Sweetener Is Far Worse Than High Fructose Corn Syrup can be found here. He makes a LOT of claims about how terrible and nutrient void agave nectar is.

Xagave’s Formal Response to Dr. Mercola can be found here. It point by point refutes claims that are in the previous article.

Another article: The Truth about Agave Syrup: Not as Healthy as You May Think.

Probably the most informative manufacturer I found was for Volcanic Nectar. I found their site and based on the look of things, I expected a brief overview on how amazing agave is. Surprisingly, they were very thorough on how their product is produced.