Health & Fitness

This popular sweetener may not be as healthy as it seems

Here's why you should think twice before adding agave into your diet
 

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Agave syrup has been touted as a healthy alternative to sugar, thanks to its low glycemic index (GI), so you don't get frequent spikes in blood sugar, like you do when eating regular sugar. Eating foods that have a high GI is certainly unhealthy but is agave really as healthy as it's said to be? Well, apparently not.

It's High In Fructose

The fact that agave is low in glucose as compared to other sweeteners is great because it doesn't raise blood sugar as much as some others. Unfortunately, it is extremely high in fructose. In fact, this number is often higher than in high fructose corn syrup, often considered the worst of all sweeteners. High fructose corn syrup, on average, contains 55 percent fructose, but this figure can go to between 70-97 percent for agave. So what does this high fructose level actually mean? A high intake of fructose could lead to insulin resistance – and potentially to diabetes – and other health issues such as heart disease. Fructose is also converted to fat much quicker than glucose is so you're at risk of gaining weight too.

It's Filled With Chemicals

Because agave syrup is extracted from the agave plant, most people don't question what's involved in this process and assume that it's a natural product. However, the truth is that this process of turning the plant to the liquid that you use involves a variety of chemicals. The syrup is actually made from the root/bulb – not the leaves or sap – and this part of the plant is very high in inulin, which is then converted via a chemical process involving up to a dozen chemicals. And these substances also include genetically-modified enzymes.

Agave is also high in sapoins, which are toxic steroid derivatives that our body doesn't need. It could give you diarrhoea and vomitting bouts and should especially be avoided when you're pregnant – it could contribute to a miscarriage by stimulating blood flow to your uterus. Plus, the plant is also often sprayed with harsh chemicals while it's still growing in the field so it might already be full of chemicals before even getting to the processing stage.

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