What Is Agave Nectar? Everything You Need to Know
What Is Agave Nectar? Everything You Need to Know
If you are looking for a sugar alternative, then you may have heard of agave nectar. But what is agave nectar? Click here to learn more.
Keyword(s): agave nectar
Even though the human body breaks down natural and added sugars the same way, there can be other benefits to using sweeteners derived from natural ingredients.
Agave nectar is one of those natural sweeteners. In a lot of cases, it can replace table sugar or other processed sweeteners.
Keep reading to learn more about agave nectar and how it could have a place in your healthy eating lifestyle.
What is Agave Nectar?
Agave nectar, or agave syrup, is a sweet, viscous liquid derived from the agave plant. This plant, and its nectar, have been used in Mexico for decades. It was previously thought that it had medicinal properties. It has a similar texture to maple syrup or honey.
Like other sugars or sweeteners, agave nectar is considered a carbohydrate. It consists almost entirely of simple sugars.
It’s made up of about 80% fructose and 20% glucose. It contains only naturally occurring sugars and has no extra sugars added during its production.
Since agave nectar derives from plants, that makes it vegan-friendly. It can be a good alternative to honey for those concerned about products produced by animals.
The nectar is made by cutting and pressing the plant to pull out the sugary sap. The sap is then processed into a syrup by exposing it to heat and other methods of breaking down any residual plant fibers. Volcanic Nectar uses a giant pressure cooker type process to keep the processing temperatures down and natural.
You can find a few different varieties of agave nectar depending upon how much they are processed. Since Volcanic Nectar Blue Agave is a unique method that saves the most mineral and vitamin content, we only have one color of Agave Nectar. In the stores where you can find agave containing super high amounts of fructose, maltose, sucrose and other unnatural ingredients, you can find various color varieties. Those versions come in light, amber, and dark variations, and they have slightly different flavors, too.
Lighter agave tends to be milder in flavor. The darker the agave becomes, the more strong the flavor. Dark agave tends to have deep notes of caramel and can sometimes resemble molasses or golden syrup.
How Does Agave Nectar Compare to Table Sugar?
Because agave nectar has a larger amount of fructose, it’s about one and half times sweeter than regular table sugar. Where agave is 80% fructose and 20% glucose, table sugar is about 50% fructose and 50% glucose.
Despite the difference in composition, our bodies break down agave nectar and regular table sugar in similar ways. Our cells use glucose for energy, whereas our liver processes fructose.
Since agave nectar has higher levels of fructose, it has a lower glycemic index. This means that it tends to have less of an effect on our blood glucose levels than other types of sugar.
Similar to table sugar, agave nectar is sometimes considered an “added sugar.” Even though agave nectar is a naturally occurring sugar, it could be classified as “added sugar” if it’s an ingredient in another food or beverage product. This is because if any sort of sweetener is added to a food or beverage product that increases its sugar content, it’s considered an added sugar.
When it comes to calories, agave is slightly higher than table sugar. There are about 60 calories in a tablespoon of agave nectar as opposed to 40 calories in a tablespoon of table sugar. Since agave nectar is sweeter, however, you likely use less agave nectar than you do table sugar.
What Are Agave Nectar Benefits?
First and foremost, because it’s sweeter than table sugar, using agave nectar can help reduce overall calorie intake. Generally, you need less agave nectar to achieve the same sweetness as with table sugar.
Because of Volcanic Nectar’s Blue Agave low glycemic index, it gives your body an opportunity to utilize the sugar and to break it down appropriately in your body. Thus avoiding the common sugar spike you get from other sweeteners in the market.
Agave nectar also has small amounts of important vitamins such as riboflavin, pyridoxine, folate, and vitamin K. The first three are all types of B vitamins, which may be beneficial in supporting the health of the immune system.
One of these, vitamin B6, can be instrumental in supporting your metabolism. It’s the vitamin that helps your body break down food, especially protein and carbohydrates. And those are two of the most important macronutrients for our nutrition.
Vitamin K and folate have also been shown to help support mental health. Higher levels of both have been tied to a lower incidence of depression.
Are There Agave Nectar Recipes?
Agave nectar is a versatile syrup that isn’t just used as a natural sweetener in healthy eating. It can even be used in soaps and personal care products. Regardless of its flexibility, the most common and popular use for it is still in the kitchen.
Because of its thinner consistency, agave nectar is the perfect sweetener to mix into drinks. It dissolves well, especially in cold drinks, and adds just that right touch of sweetness.
It can also be used in savory dishes, such as marinades for meat or a little drop in the salad dressing. You can even use it to make a barbecue sauce for a whole roasted chicken.
Naturally, it’s a great option for making baked goods and can sweeten anything from cakes to breakfast pastries to fruit crisps and crumbles.
Sometimes, when it comes to replacing another sweetener to add agave nectar to your recipes, you might have to mess around a bit with the ratios. Since common sugar is a crystalline solid and agave nectar is a liquid, getting those recipes right might require changing some of the other liquid ingredients as well.
To make use of your agave nectar, though, you don’t even have to do much. Just like honey, it has several uses straight out of the bottle. Add a little bit to your tea, or use a drizzle to sweeten your morning oatmeal of pancakes.
Have a Taste of Agave Nectar
A versatile and natural sweetener, agave nectar can easily become a part of your healthy eating habits.
It’s an accessible, vegan alternative to other sugars that can fit all of your cooking and baking needs. If you’re ready to try it out for yourself, check out our Volcanic Blue Agave Nectar and see the difference it can make.