Agave nectar comes from the agave plant and is a light syrupy sweetener that can be used instead of table sugar or artificial sweeteners.
Agave nectar comes from the agave plant (pronounced ah-GAV-ey), Agave is best known as being the plant that tequila is traditionally made from. Agave has been used in Mexican cooking as a sweetener centuries but is becoming more and more popular as a natural sweetener which is low on the glycemic index.
Agave is a succulent (similar to the well known Aloe Vera) and thrives in hot, arid climates. Most of the best quality agave nectar comes from the leaves of the Blue Agave plant.
Agave Nectar is Low on the Glycemic Index Making it Suitable for Low GI Diets
One of the advantages of agave nectar over table sugar is that it is low on the glycemic index. This means that it won’t spike insulin levels as high GI foods can which leads to fluctuating energy levels and increased fat storage. Agave nectar is made from fructose, the same sugar found in fruits such as melon and berries.
This means that Agave nectar can be used to substitute sugar in recipes and dishes including breads, cakes, pancakes etc. It can also be used instead of syrups for pouring and drizzling. This means that agave nectar is suitable for those following a low GI diet.
Agave Nectar Instead of Artificial Sweeteners like Aspartame
Artificial sweeteners have an advantage over sugars as they are low calorie and do not lead to sugar rushes however in baking or preserving they are not always suitable. Often in cakes or breads, browning is an important aspect of the process and this will not happen with artificial sweeteners and baked goods may come out looking pale and anemic.
Agave nectar contains sugars which contribute towards this browning process and also in preserving. Agave is also suitable in making ice creams and frozen yogurt. According to Allaboutagave.com, these iced products can contain crystals of ice which are unsightly when made with artificial sweeteners.
Agave Nectar is Sweeter than Table Sugar so Less is Required to Flavour Foods
Another advantage of agave nectar over table sugar (sucrose) is that it is 25% sweeter in taste (Source: groovyfood.co.uk). This means that less is required to sweeten foods, drinks, cereals etc leading to a reduced calorie intake.
Agave nectar is also said to have a number of health benefits including being a suitable contact anti-biotic (although it may be a little sticky) and according to AllAboutAgave.com, it has also been proven to deal with harmful intestinal bacteria, keeping the gut healthy.