While it is always best to moderate sweeteners, let's face it. We want a sweetener to use in baking the occasional treat. Often, I will sweeten my muffins, sweet breads, or cakes with dates or apples (like in this delicious carrot cake). But for a few years now, I have used raw, organic, agave syrup pretty much everywhere else — Kombucha, on top of porridge, in tea, and other baked goods.
The reason we preferred agave syrup over the other sweeteners was its very low glucose profile, which prevents a spike in blood sugar when consumed — making it a low glycemic index food. Agave is very good for that.
In my recent readings on agave syrup, I have discovered that while agave is low in glucose, it is very, very high in fructose. In fact, it contains more fructose than honey or high-fructose corn syrup! Fructose may sound good — think “fruit” — but consuming this concentrated fruit sugar is nothing like eating a fresh fruit. A fresh, whole fruit offers un-concentrated fructose as just part of the sugar profile, along with fiber, water, and other vitamins and minerals.
But What's So Bad About High Amounts Of Concentrated Fructose?
“It may cause mineral depletion, liver inflammation, hardening of the arteries, insulin resistance leading to diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and obesity.”
What Am I Going To Do About This?
That is a good question, since I have a 5 gallon pail of raw, organic agave sitting in the kitchen. 🙁
- I will continue to use the agave syrup for my Kombucha, until it runs out. The saving grace here is that the sugars are pretty much metabolized by the scoby and converted into beneficial nutrients. In our case, this happens more so than not, since Jeff prefers sour Kombucha.
- For occasional baking, I will use Rapadura (evaporated cane juice), which I recently brought into the kitchen after reading what Sally Fallon Morell wrote in Nourishing Traditions.
- I might also look into getting coconut sugar. But first, I want to be assured of the growing conditions, price and availability.
- I will, as time allows, make over the recipes on this site, so that none call for agave syrup. I began that yesterday, with the makeover resulting in Lemon Cake.
- I will bake with sweeteners such as Rapadura only occasionally, rather than frequently.
- I will encourage my family to snack on fresh fruit.
- I will use dates and apples as sweeteners where I'm able.
So… feel free to share your thoughts!
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