*Agave syrup, also called Agave nectar, is a natural sweetener produced from several species of the genus Agave, native to South America and Mexico.
*Though it is relatively new to the world, the native people of South America and Mexico have been using this as a sweetener, for treating various health conditions in herbal medicine, wound healing, etc.
*It has an amber color -
(1) The light colored variety is filtered and has a neutral or delicate flavor, and
(2) The dark colored variety is unfiltered or unrefined and has a more pronounced flavor.
*It is 1.5 times more sweeter than refined sugar.
* It is sweeter, but slightly less viscous than honey.
*It blends and dissolves in cold liquids, and flows more easily than honey.
*It is referred to as ‘vegan honey’, as it is completely a plant product. So vegans who do not want to use any animal sourced products can confidently replace honey with Agave syrup.
*It does not impart any taste or flavor to the foods.
*It is produced by expressing the sweet sticky juice from the core of the plant. Then it is filtered, heated to hydrolyze the complex carbohydrates, and then concentrated when syrup-like liquid is produced.
*Agave syrup can be used as a sweetener for coffee, tea, cold drinks, smoothies, and also to replace refined sugar in baking. It retains moisture in baked goods, keeps them soft and fresh, gives them a smooth and silky texture, and prolongs their shelf life.
*Buying and storage: Buy pure, good quality, organic if possible, Agave syrup and store in an airtight container or jar in a cool, dry, dark place in the cup board at room temperature. It is very stable, does not crystallize, has a very long shelf life and keeps well for up to 3 years.
Is it raw?
Yes and No.
*Yes, pure and organic syrups are raw and are naturally produced by hydrolyzing the Agave juice by heating.
*No, processed syrups are produced by hydrolyzing the Agave juice by using enzymes from certain fungi. Make sure you read the label.
1. Agave syrup has a low glycemic value, which means it does not cause a ‘sugar rush’ or a sudden spike in blood sugar after consuming it. This is because the main sugar in Agave syrup is fructose is metabolized slowly in the body. Fructose is produced by the hydrolysis of fructosan or inulin, a polysachharide of fructose units. It is the same sugar present in the fruits. Due to this, diabetics can safely use this sweetener in moderate quantities.
2. Fructosan or inulin present in Agave juice is not destroyed in the stomach by the hydrochloric acid. So it is being studied as a carrier to deliver drugs into the colon to treat colon-related diseases, such as ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn's disease, etc.
3. Agave syrup has both fructose and glucose, with the ratio ranging from 92% fructose and 8% glucose to 56% fructose and 20% glucose. This is due to the various sources or plants from which it has been extracted.
4. Inulin is also being studied for its weight loss properties, as it is thought to reduce the absorption of cholesterol and other fats from the intestines.
5. The sap from Agave plants is used to aid healing of wounds in folk medicine.
6. The sap has anti-inflammatory property and inhibits the growth of pyogenic and enteric bacteria.
7. One tablespoon of Agave syrup has 60 calories. As with any other foods, moderation is the key.