- Agave has been cultivated for centuries, first by the Native American population and then in Europe, when agave plants were brought back by the Spaniards and Portugese in the 17th century.
- Agave is a succulent plant, related to the yucca and lily, that grows in the southern and western United States and in central and tropical South America. The agave plants have a large rosette of thick fleshy leaves, each ending generally in a sharp point.
- Each agave rosette grows slowly and flowers only once. When the agave is ready to flower, a tall stem grows from the center of the leaf rosette and produces a large number of short tubular flowers. After development of the fruit, the original plant dies, but shoots are frequently produced from the base of the stem which become new plants.
- Four major parts of the agave plant have culinary uses. The flowers are edible and can be tossed in salads. The leaves are rich in sap and can be eaten. The stalks can be roasted before they flower and exude a distinctive sweet molasses-like flavor. Sap that is used in tequila or as sweetener comes from the flower shoots.
- Agave syrup is a low-Glycemic Index sweetener
- What makes agave superior to sugar? Sugar is a processed sweetener that has no nutritive value, other than calories. And agave, as compared to other sweeteners, has a desirable low-Glycemic Index. This means that when consumed, it won’t cause a sharp rise or fall in blood sugar.
Here is a list of sweeteners and corresponding glycemic values. The higher the value, the bigger the impact on blood sugar:
- Organic Agave Nectar 27
- Fructose (fruit sugar) 32
- Lactose (milk sugar) 65
- Honey 83
- High fructose corn syrup 89
- Sucrose (sugar) 92
- Glucose 137
- Glucose tablets 146
- Maltodextrin 150
- Maltose 150
- Agave contains saponins and fructans. According to Dr. Sahelian, saponins, which are found on quinoa and many plant roots, including ginseng, have anti-inflammatory and immune system-boosting properties, including antimicrobial capability. In fact, the Aztecs used agave syrup to treat wounds because of its antibacterial properties.
- Inulin is a type of fructan or fiber in agave that has many health benefits. Studies suggest that inulin can be effective in weight loss because of its low impact on blood sugar and its ability to increase satiety and decrease appetite. Inulin is also associated with lowering cholesterol, reducing the risk of certain cancers, and increasing the absorption of nutrients, such as isoflavones, calcium and magnesium.
Source: Borboa MS, Michele; “The health benefits of agave nectar”, 26 June 2008, www.sheknows.com/health-and-wellness/articles/804491/the-health-benefits-of-agave-nectar