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.
We source our agave from Living Earth. This agave is grown by the Aztecs in the Ixmiquilpan region of Mexico. Agave is central to their culture and they have been cultivating it for thousands of years.
Similar to how a bee creates honey, it is through enzymatic action that the complex sugars in fresh agave juice are converted into simple sugars, producing agave nectar. This minimal processing and minimal heat provides vitamins, minerals and enzymes in agave nectar that are not found in other processed sweeteners.
The main form of carbohydrate in agave syrup is a complex form of fructose called inulin or fructosan. This is absorbed slowly into the bloodstream giving it a low glycemic index and is therefore diabetic friendly. It is also the perfect sweetener for children as it does not significantly raise blood sugar levels, preventing the highs and lows associated with sugar intake and instead provides a sustained, steady source of energy.
AGAVE SYRUP IS A LOW-GLYCEMIC SWEETENER
Agave is far 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.
The following 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
High fructose corn syrup 89
Sucrose (sugar) 92
Glucose tablets 146
If you are diabetic and monitor your food exchanges, a one-teaspoon serving of agave nectar equals a ‘free food’. Two servings or two teaspoons equals 1/2 carbohydrate exchange.
Agave contains saponins and fructans. It is believed that 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 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. Inulin can also be found in some varieties of yogurt.
In addition, fructans are not destroyed in the stomach and may be a delivery system for drugs to treat colon diseases such as ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn’s disease.
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