Many of you understand that sugar has NO place in your life if you expect to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Sugar causes unhealthy spikes in your blood sugar causing your insulin and leptin levels to spike and research has shown that this is what leads to obesity and other chronic diseases.
In addition, countless research has be been done showing the harmful affects of artificial sweeteners such as NutraSweet, Aspartame, and Splenda. These neurotoxins wreak havoc on your brain cells and actually overstimulate them to death! You certainly want to avoid these if you desire to have a healthy lifestyle.
This brings me to “natural” sweeteners. There has been a growing interest in natural sweeteners over the past couple of years as many people are becoming aware and educated on the harmful affects of sugar and artificial sweeteners. With the sudden influx of interest of these sweeteners so have there been an influx of new products. Manufactures eagerly attempting to capitalize on your zeal for health, have created a myriad of products for you to choose from.
But are all of these products safe? Are you really doing yourself a favor by switching to any of these products? Unfortunately, in some cases you are not. In fact, in a few instances, the “natural” product is actually no better or even worse than sugar or the artificial sweeteners you are attempting to replace.
An example of this is Agave.
That’s right. Agave is one of the biggest health scams on the market today!
Agave is an exotic plant that grows in Mexico and is more famously known as the main ingredient of tequila. The word Agave means “noble” and this exotic image is what most retailers what you to imagine when you consume it. However, this is hardly the “agave” that you are using when you purchase it in the store.
Most agave “nectar” or agave “syrup” is nothing more than a laboratory-generated super-condensed fructose syrup, devoid of virtually all nutrient value, and offering you metabolic misfortune in its place.
In fact, most agave syrup has a higher fructose content than any commercial sweetener – ranging 70 to 97 percent, depending on the brand, which is FAR HIGHER than high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), which averages 55 percent.
This means Agave is actually WORSE than High Fructose Corn Syrup!
You would have to be living under a rock not to know the harmful effects that High Fructose Corn Syrup provides. (Although the corn industry attempted to down play it with a handful of ridiculous commercials claiming that it is no more dangerous or different than natural sugar!)
Fructose is metabolized differently than glucose, it is metabolized 100% in your liver. This process is the SAME way alcohol is broken down and produces the same side affects of chronic alcohol use, right down to the “beer belly.”
Although fructose does not increase your insulin levels, and is why it is often touted to diabetics, it causes insulin resistance instead. Insulin resistance is far worse than high insulin spikes and is the ACTUAL cause of Diabetes.
You see, fructose is converted directly to fat. These fat cells release a hormone called Leptin which is the hormone that tells your body what to do with fat.
Too much Leptin release causes Leptin resistance. This produces a communication problem in your body and results in your body’s inability to hear other hormones such as insulin. When your body can’t hear insulin anymore, it is no longer capable of depositing the sugar in your blood to either your liver, muscle, or fat cells and results in too much glucose in the blood. This will render a diagnosis of diabetes by your doctor.
What you must understand is that agave syrup is neither healthy nor natural.
As reported by Dr. Ingrid Kohlstadt, a fellow of the American College of Nutrition and an associate faculty member at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health:
“Agave is almost all fructose, a highly processed sugar with great marketing.”
Agave syrup has about 16 calories per teaspoon, the same as table sugar (sucrose), which is what is leading to the increasing waistline of most Americans. Hardly a low calorie option.
Agaves grow primarily in Mexico, but you can also find them in the southern and western Untied States, as well as in South America. A mature agave is 7 to 12 feet in diameter with leaves that are 5 to 8 feet tall and there are over 100 species of agave in a wide variety of sizes and colors.
Although the industry wants you to believe that agave nectar runs straight from the plant and into your jar, nothing could be farther from the truth.
Most of the agave “nectar” is made from its pineapple-like root bulb instead of the sap of the plant, despite the manufacture’s claims. This root has a complex carbohydrate called inulin, which is made up of fructose molecules.
In MOST commercially available agave, this inulin laden root is converted into fructose-rich syrup using genetically modified enzymes and a chemically intensive process involving caustic acids, clarifiers, and filtration chemicals such as:
- Activated charcoal
- Cationic and ionic resins
- Sulfuric and/or hydrofluoric acid
- Inulin enzymes
Not very natural sounding is it?
The result is highly refined fructose syrup, along with some remaining inulin.
Most agave “nectar” is neither safe nor natural with laboratory-generated fructose levels of more than 80 percent!
What about Organic Agave?
There are a handful of natural food companies that may produce a good “non-processed” agave product. These are few and far in between so make sure you look at labels and into the processing the company uses.
Even if you find a good agave product, however, you do not want to consume too much of it. 25 grams per day is the max amount of fructose that you will want to consume in a single day. Most people who use even just one tablespoon can very likely consume too much fructose since the average person consumes 70 grams per day.
The best alternative is to avoid Agave altogether! If you must use a sweetener, I suggest you use Stevia. Stevia is a natural herb that doesn’t affect your insulin levels and wont have the same harmful effects as fructose.
Be careful however, not to be conned into Stevia imitators such as Truvia. This is NOT the same thing for they add “natural flavors” to it. This is typically a code word for “we can put whatever we want into it and we won’t tell you so we can protect our patent.” Stevia has been around forever and it’s safe, why mess with it?
Agave is just one of the many examples of how the food industry attempts to manipulate you with advertising. This is why it is imperative that you continue to monitor your own health by staying informed with subscriptions to health newsletters and reading health blogs like this one. Until next time, Dr. Tunis Jr helping you and your family stay healthy.
About the Author: Dr Tunis Hunt Jr is a wellness adviser specializing in nutrition, chiropractic, and weight loss. In addition to serving his clients, Dr. Hunt lectures and educates the public on nutrition and health based information, as well as, is a contributing author to several publications and websites. To reach Dr. Hunt for questions and comments or to schedule him to speak to your group or company please call 704-588-1792 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 704-588-1792 end_of_the_skype_highlighting or email him. www.HuntForWellness.com