There are opposing opinions about agave, as is with many things in life. I’ve read articles on both sides. This is a little bit of what I’ve gathered:
1. Agave is a plant that is mostly grown in Mexico. They process it to make it into a syrup…kind of like making maple sap into syrup . (by processing all I mean is that they’re bringing it to a temperature higher than 118 degrees. Some companies will keep it under this temperature so it will be raw).
2. Some of the agave companies in Mexico have gotten a bad rep because they were adding in high fructose corn syrup with agave to make it less expensive for them.
3. There are companies that don’t do this(add HFCS) and their agave is natural and safe with no additives. You can read on the label of the agave you buy and it should say on there that it’s certified, organic and USDA approved or something like that. Another good way to go is through a group buy…you just have to get a lot.
4. Agave is low on the glycemic index scale. Which is a good thing for controlling cravings. I’ve read that many doctors who have diabetic patients tell there patients to use agave for this very reason. Here’s some more info from a website on the glycemic index that I found helpful. I’ve put the source at the bottom:
The glycemic index scale starts at zero and goes to 100. According to the University of Wisconsin Center for Integrative Medicine, foods that rate between zero and 49 have a low glycemic index, foods between 50 and 70 have a moderate glycemic index and foods that rate over 70 have a high glycemic index. A 2 tbsp. serving size of agave nectar has a glycemic index of 30, placing it in the category of low glycemic foods.
In addition to considering the glycemic index rating of agave nectar, another number you may want to consider it its glycemic load. According to the UWCIM, the glycemic load of a food takes into account the percent of carbohydrate contained in a food. Foods that rate between zero and 10 have a low glycemic load, foods between 11 and 19 have a moderate glycemic index and foods that rate over 20 have a high glycemic load. A 2 tbsp. serving size of agave nectar, according to All About Agave, has a glycemic load of 9.6, placing it just at the cutoff between low and medium. To calculate the glycemic load of any food, first find the number of carbohydrates the food contains by looking at food labels or a nutrition chart. Then, multiply this number by its glycemic index, and divide the total by 100.
The higher a food ranks on the glycemic index, the faster and more dramatic is its effect on blood sugar levels. You can use this information as a comparison to help you decide which foods to select and which to avoid. For example, compared to agave nectar’s glycemic index of 30, table sugar comes in at 65 and honey is at 58. Factoring in the glycemic load reveals that agave nectar is a clear winner. Compared to agave nectar’s glycemic load of 9.6, table sugar comes in at 15.6 and honey is at 19.7
I use agave in some things I bake, but not much. In my granola recipe I use a little, but mostly the sweetener I like in that one is raw honey. If I’m doing a sugar substitute in a baked good, I usually go with Sucanat. But sugar is sugar, so either way, I try not to do too much. I notice a difference in my body when I use agave rather than refined sugar. When I bake with agave I don’t experience the cravings I do with refined sugar. I can have just one bite or slice of something and be done, rather than over doing it with sugary sweets. I don’t feel like it’s spiking my blood sugar though I do notice the spike with sugar. Our bodies are different and will probably respond in different ways. You could try it for yourself and see how you like it. And that’s all I’ve got for now.