With a lower glycemic index than common table sugar, agave syrup is a sweetener obtained by refining the nectar obtained from the agave plant. Let’s see what its properties are and what, instead, are the contraindications.
Agave syrup is a sweetener that is obtained from agave nectar, extracted from the agave plant, which is then subjected to a manufacturing process. The agave plant that is generally used for the production of agave syrup is that of Mexican origin, the blue Agave.
In particular, agave juice is first filtered and subsequently heated to hydrolyze complex carbohydrates into simple carbohydrates. Sometimes the enzymatic action of a yeast (Aspergillus niger) is used to carry out this conversion. The final production phase involves a concentration process, to thicken the agave syrup, which in the end will have a slightly lower density than that of honey.
Unfortunately, the thermal process destroys most of the nutrients present in the agave nectar. For this reason, it is advisable to use a cold extracted agave syrup, without the use of heat, and organic, to avoid the presence of residual chemicals. Depending on the type of processing, the agave syrup can take on a light color, almost transparent, a medium amber color, or a dark color.
Agave syrup: calories and nutritional values
Agave syrup has a high content of simple sugars and a low amount of minerals and vitamins. In addition, 100 grams of agave syrup provides 310 calories. Below is the table relating to the nutritional values of this sweetener.
Nutritional values per 100g of agave syrup:
- Kilocalories: 310
- Waterfall: 22.94 gr
- Fat: 0.45 gr
- Proteins: 0.09 gr
- Carbohydrates: 76.37 gr
- Of which sugars: 68.03 gr
- Fibers: 0.2 gr
- Soccer: 1 mg
- Iron: 0.09 mg
- Magnesium: 1 mg
- Phosphorus: 1 mg
- Potassium: 4 mg
- Sodium: 4 mg
- Zinc: 0.01 mg
- C vitamin: 17 mg
- Thiamine or vitamin B1: 0.122 mg
- Riboflavin or vitamin B2: 0.165 mg
- Niacin or vitamin B3: 0.689 mg
- Pyridoxine or vitamin B6: 0.234
- Folate: 30 mg
- Vitamin K: 22.5 µg
- Glycemic index From: 27 to 90, depending on the type of processing
Agave syrup: nutritional properties
In agave syrup we find an abundance of simple sugars, of which 90% consists of fructose. If cold pressed, we can also find small amounts of vitamin C and folate.
- Fructose: Fructose is a simple sugar, and is the main sugar found in fruit. It is part of sucrose, the common table sugar, along with glucose. Fructose differs from glucose in that it does not directly increase blood glucose levels, and therefore confers a lower glycemic index. Fructose is metabolized by the liver and its excess is converted into fat;
- Vitamin C: as we have seen, cold-pressed agave syrup still retains a quantity of vitamin C, a powerful natural antioxidant that protects us from oxidative damage caused by free radicals, stimulates the immune system, promotes the absorption of iron and stimulates the production of collagen;
- Folate: Folate is the precursor to folic acid, a vitamin essential for cell growth and differentiation. For this reason, its supplementation during pregnancy is essential, as a folic acid deficiency can cause neural tube defects in the unborn child.
Agave syrup: health benefits
Although it is a sweetener, and as such it should never be overused, raw agave syrup offers some benefits. Let’s see what they are.
✓ It has a greater sweetening power
Agave juice sweetens about 25% more than sucrose. This allows you to use it in smaller quantities, resulting in a lower calorie intake. This property of agave syrup is especially beneficial for people who are following a diet aimed at reducing body weight but do not want to give up a little sweetness. But be careful to use little, because it still has a high fructose content.
✓ Stimulates the immune system
Agave syrup cold extracted from the agave plant, and therefore unrefined, boasts a good amount of vitamin C. This vitamin is useful for the immune system as it stimulates the activity of the cells responsible for the defense of our body from microorganisms and foreign agents. The agave syrup extracted with a thermal process, on the other hand, destroys the quantities of vitamin C present, as it is a thermolabile vitamin.
✓ It has a lower glycemic index than sugar
Since agave syrup has a high fructose content, it has a lower glycemic index than sucrose, which is also made up of glucose. Having a lower glycemic index means less impact on blood glucose levels. A study showed how administering agave syrup to mice led to less weight gain and lower blood sugar and insulin levels, compared to mice fed the same amount of sucrose.
Agave syrup: some usage tips
Raw agave syrup can be bought in organic supermarkets, even online. It is a very soluble sweetener and can be used both to sweeten coffee or other drinks, and to prepare biscuits and cakes, as a substitute for table sugar. The taste is neutral, so it can be used without altering the taste of food. But be careful to use less than white sugar, about 25% less, otherwise you will get excessive sweetness.
Agave syrup: contraindications
Excessive use of agave syrup is contraindicated in both normal and diabetic subjects, despite its low glycemic index. The high fructose content, in fact, would lead to liver overload with the development of liver disease, high levels of uric acid and triglycerides.