I got to meet other raw enthusiasts this weekend at Jennifer Cornbleet’s lecture and traded email addresses with a few. I got an email from another girl in the lecture shortly after wards who is new to raw and upset about the conflicting information she’s heard about agave nectar, so much so that she was considering the validity of the entire diet. Jennifer used it in one of the desserts she prepared prompting this girl to further question it and me to do my own research on agave nectar, I found some interesting and conflicting information.
Some dietitians agree it’s equal to corn syrup while some claim it has a friendly bacteria that helps fight colon cancer. This is perhaps the most detailed article on the subject, if not a bit dizzying to read and I tried to comb out the important points. What shocked me is that it’s a more concentrated starch than high fructose corn syrup and not at all like levulose, the sweetener found is fruits, and does not contain enzymes, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and fruit pectin that levulose does. This quote bothered me the most:
Refined fructose is processed in the body through the liver, rather than digested in the intestine.(5) Levulose is digested in the intestine. Refined fructose robs the body of many micronutrient treasures in order to assimilate itself for physiological use. While naturally occurring fruit sugars contain levulose bound to other sugars, high fructose corn syrup contains “free” (unbound), chemically refined fructose. Research indicates that free refined fructose interferes with the heart’s use of key minerals like magnesium, copper and chromium. (6)
After the refining process, agave nectar is mostly fructose – a higher percentage than syrups used in sodas! For me, agave nectar in moderation is fine, such as an occasional raw dessert including it. But, I will use raw honey, dates and stevia in it’s place for my recipes.