The Blue Agave Plant and its Health Benefits
Its not new news that agave nectar (agave syrup) may be a better alternative to sugar. Agave nectar is a natural sweetener, much like honey, which is derived from numerous varieties of the blue agave plant – the same plant that is used in making tequila. Agave nectar is used in both food and beverages and is an ideal replacement for sugar because it offers some health benefits. Read on to find a few reasons why you might consider agave nectar in your diet.
What is Agave?
There are several hundred known species of Blue Agave plant, which is a succulent that grows primarily in the southwest United States and in South America. Distantly related to the Yucca and Lily, the Agave plants have large, fleshy leaves that end in a large point (much like an Aloe plant).
There are a few parts of the agave plant that have culinary uses. The flowers are edible and many people toss them in salads. The leaves are rich in agave sap and can be eaten, and the stalk of the plant can be roasted before they flower. This produces a distinctive, sweet molasses flavor. The product that is used in both Tequila and natural sweeteners comes from the agave plant’s flower shoots.
Agave Plant syrup offers a low Glycemic sweetener
Here’s a short list of sweeteners according to their glycemic value index from BlueAgaveNectar.com. (There are dozens, if not hundreds but these represent the most common).
Organic Agave Nectar 27
Fructose (fruit sugar) 32
Lactose (milk sugar) 65
High fructose corn syrup 89
Sucrose (sugar) 92
Glucose tablets 146
Replace your sugar with Agave
If you happen to be diabetic and monitor your food exchanges, you’ll be happy to know that a one-teaspoon serving of agave nectar equals a “free food.” Two teaspoons equals a 1/2 carbohydrate exchange and so on. Like many other substitute sweeteners on the market, agave nectar can be used to replace sugar in almost every scenario.
For the modern health conscious or organic shopper its worth noting this small fact… Agave contains saponins and fructans. Saponins are found on quinoa and many other plant roots, that have anti-inflammatory and immune system-boosting properties. Ginseng is a common natural remedy that falls into this category. Fructan is a fiber that has many health benefits, including being effective in weight loss efforts. It has a low impact on blood sugar and helps to increase satiety and decrease appetite. In Aztec times, the agave plant syrup was also used to treat wounds because of its anti-microbial attributes.
You can visit Eatingwell.com for “healthy recipes sweetened with agave nectar“.
Is Tequila good for me?
We think so. But “Tequila” as you may know it, may not be the pure Agave persuasion you seek. US regulations have a bit of a lower bar and allow it to be called tequila containing as little as 49 percent blue weber agave. What comprises the other 51% you might ask… “Other liquids”, commonly sugar-based alcohols. In this case, you may be mixing alcohols from the get go by consuming a Tequila that is not 100% Blue Weber Agave.
For the health conscious drinker that still likes to enjoy cocktails, look for 100% pure Blue Weber Agave Spirits on the bottle. Some experts on the Blue Agave plant have noted that a shot of 100% Blue Agave Spirits before lunch can stimulate your appetite, and a shot after dinner will act as a digestive.
So enjoy in moderation and look for 100% Blue Weber Agave on the label. Maybe a Los Osuna Reposado just became your top medicinal advice.