Agave nectar is a natural sweetener that is derived from a variety of agave species, including blue agave and rainbow agave. There are well over 100 different species of agave plants, but the blue agave is the most common source of agave nectar. Unlike other agaves, the blue agave is rich in carbohydrate content, which will in turn increase fructose and glucose content in the final nectar.
Production of Agave Nectar
The agave plant grows for seven to 10 years before any harvesting and processing can take place. Once the plant has reached maturity, its leaves are cut off to reveal the pina, which is the inner core of the plant. The agave juice is then extracted from the pina and heated at low temperatures to break down the carbohydrates into simple sugars. The low temperatures are necessary to preserve the enzymes, vitamins and minerals. The resulting nectar syrup is rich in magnesium, potassium, iron and calcium.
Agave Nectar vs. Honey
The agave nectar is about 1.5 times sweeter than honey. Furthermore, it has a wide variety of flavors, which makes it a suitable additive for most foods. In addition, the nectar does not impact the nutritional balance of food. Agave nectar is a plant product, meaning that it is a perfect alternative for vegans and vegetarians.
In comparison to honey, agave nectar has a very low-glycemic index, and it is a safe sweetener for diabetics. Moreover, it does not spike blood-sugar levels or stimulate insulin response. Rather than increasing body fats, agave nectar assists in the breaking down of body fats through the gallbladder. Unlike honey, which causes bacterial diseases such as botulism in babies, agave nectar is safe for consumption by babies, because it does not contain any bacteria.
Agave Nectar vs. Maple Syrup
Maple syrup is a natural sweetener that is derived from the sap of maple trees. Just like agave nectar, it is not detrimental to the body. However, maple syrup has a higher glycemic index, and therefore, it is less acceptable compared to agave syrup. In addition, it is a very expensive product because it incurs high production costs. It takes 40 gallons of raw maple sap to produce a single gallon of maple syrup.
Agave Nectar vs. Brown Rice Syrup
Brown rice syrup is a liquid sugar that is obtained by culturing cooked rice with the use of certain enzymes. Despite the fact that it has a very low-glycemic index, it has the tendency to spike blood-sugar levels because it contains maltose. Agave nectar is three times sweeter than brown rice syrup, and it is also a healthier option.
Agave Nectar vs. Corn Syrup
As the name suggests, corn syrup is a liquid sugar that is derived from corn starch. It is made up of glucose, and it has a glycemic index that is similar to regular sugar. It is only 65 percent as sweet as table sugar, and therefore, it has low sweetening ability and it is rather flavorless. This syrup is only used as a sweetener because it does not crystallize, an attribute that is common with agave nectar. However, agave nectar may still be a better choice because it has a sweeter taste.