Friday, January 3, 2014

I'm Frequently Asked Why I Do Not Use Agave. The Answer From Weston A Price

Agave "nectar" seems to be all the rage. Quite surprising given that it's probably the most dangerous sweetener you can buy, when you buy a commercially produced variety, which is the majority. There are artisanal organic agave available, but I am happy with what I use, honey and maple syrup, which is grown or produced within 100 miles of my house. From Weston A Price Foundation website:

Just Say No to Agave

Since the FDA makes no effort to enforce food-labeling laws, consumers cannot be certain that what they are eating is what the label says it is. New sweeteners like agave syrup were introduced into the market to make a profit, not to make consumers healthy. Clever marketing has led many consumers to believe that the high level of fructose in agave syrup makes it a safe and a natural sweetener. Agave syrup labels do not conform to FDA labeling requirements, thus deepening the illusion of an unprocessed product. As we have demonstrated here, if a sweetener contains manufactured fructose, it is neither safe nor natural, especially at levels up to 70 percent.

Agave syrup is a man made sweetener which has been through a complicated chemical refining process of enzymatic digestion, which converts the starch and fiber into the unbound, man made chemical fructose. While high fructose agave syrup won't spike your blood glucose levels, 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.

If you want something sweet, eat a piece of fruit, not a candy bar labeled as a “health food.” If you want to create something sweet, use sweeteners known to be safer. For uncooked dishes, unheated raw honey or dates work well. For cooked dishes or sweet drinks, a good organic maple syrup, or even freshly juiced apple juice or orange juice can provide delicious and relatively safe sweetness; dehydrated cane sugar juice or maple sugar may be used in moderation in cookies and desserts that contain nutritious ingredients and good fats such as butter, egg yolks and nuts.

However, to be healthy, we cannot eat sugar all day, no matter how natural the form. One should limit total sweetener consumption to less than five percent of daily calories. For a diet of 2500 calories per day, that’s less than three tablespoons of honey, maple syrup or dehydrated cane sugar juice, or several pieces of fruit. And many people do best by avoiding sweeteners completely.
The lack of standards in the health food world comes as depressing news; but let this news encourage you to consume more pure and unrefined foods and sweeteners. Good health depends on wise food choices, and wise food choices depend on constant vigilance.

For more discussion see Dr. Mercola, which also goes into how to find out if you are getting too much fructose ( uric acid level) and how to calculate a safe amount of fructose, 25 grams or less a day, with a handy food chart. One hundred years ago, the average person consumed 15 grams a day. We should aim for that.

Good choices of sweeteners, in small amounts are honey and maple syrup (which can come in crystalline form for baking).

Read a comparison of corn syrup, sugar and agave at Weston A Price Foundation, at

To Your Health
Dr. Barbara