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Agave nectar (syrup): Is it Paleo? It's natural, so it's good for me, right?

I know I know...we all want a sweetener that is Paleo-friendly. Agave nectar is the right choice, right?  
Not to be all Erin Brockovich or anything, but I did have to seek up a few tidbits to substantiate my thought process that it's crap, as I was asked this question by someone, and now I wanted more info.

When we were at the Nutrition Cert with Robb Wolf earlier this year, he mentioned that this stuff is worse than plain sugar. Worse than cane sugar, how the heck is that possible!?! This is from the agave plant, and has a low glycemic index!!

First, from Medical News Today: "Agave nectar contains 70%-75% highly chemically refined fructose-more than is present in high fructose corn syrup-and most consumers don't know this," explained Mr. Nagel. Once eaten, refined fructose appears as triglycerides in the bloodstream, or is stored as body fat. Elevated triglyceride levels, caused by consumption of refined fructose, is one of the factors responsible for the hardening of human arteries. Further, metabolic studies have proven the relationship between refined fructose consumption and obesity."

MORE fructose than the satanic High Fructose Corn Syrup?!? Say it ain't so!

Gleaned from a variety of sources:
"While agave nectar is low on the glycemic index scale, it's because it's almost entirely fructose not glucose. Glycemic index can be somewhat misleading on foods since it's about how much a food raises your blood GLUCOSE levels. Since agave is a form of fructose it is very slow to raise blood glucose as it must pass through the liver and be converted to glucose. So while your pancreas does not have to do the work, it fully taxes your liver. This is a slow process but does not account for the large insulin response fructose causes nor the hepatic derangement that can occur."


Here's the thing: I scoured the internet for any kinds of scientific research on agave, specifically for use with diabetics. Not coming up with anything. My take is this: it's still new enough that we don't know of its harmful long-term effects.

Bottom line is that it's still a sugar. Still a sweetener. While it might not cause a diabetic to have the same insulin response, the effect on the liver seems a bit concerning.

"Eat meat and vegetables. Nuts and seeds. Some fruit. Little starch. NO SUGAR."

If you would like to read more, here are a few opinionated/interesting remarks. The Medical News Today one about the FDA is kinda interesting...







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    Agave nectar (syrup): Is it Paleo? It's natural, so it's good for me, right? - Nutrition, Performance & Community - BTB Fitness CrossFit
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Reader Comments (5)

I haven't had any agave nectar yet (more from not-having-bought-it-yet than questioning if it was good or not.) However, I noticed a measured difference in how sweet things are now. I had some honey last week and *holy moly* - I was on a sugar high and bouncing off the walls. I can't imagine what corn syrup or the agave nectar would do at this point.

But what is even stranger is that things that I would use as my "sweets" when I first started (Watermelon, cherries, strawberries) are even sweeter now. It takes a lot less of them to satisfy that sweet tooth than before. Same with salt.

Sarah....you're spot on regarding the taste of things. I use this anology all the time for Paleo (more about how one feels...but it works on taste also):

If you where glasses...you didn't just all the sudden wake up and need glasses. Things got progressively worse over time. Diet is like that...we slowly condition our senses, body, mind to feel a certain way or taste a certain way for years.

It took Paleo to re-introduce me to how much better I could feel and absolutely how much better food tastes.

August 18, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterVinings Charles

Oh...and since Sarah closed with a salt comment...just wanted to throw this out there:

Salt is Salt! It doesn't matter how fancy the words are...it's still salt. I used to think (cause this is what they want you to think) that sea salt was actually better for you than table salt. Nope...it's all salt.

Be mindful that whatever the fancy/exotic writing says on the package...salt is still salt.

August 18, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterVinings Charles

Hi all....I'll echo your comments too. It's been such an amazing transition throughout these 90 days to not only have more of a keen taste sensation of food, but even what my eye is drawn towards has changed over these 90 days. Now, a plate full of beautifully colored vegetables and a healthy protein source looks so appetizing and appealing.......when I go to the grocery store I am keenly observant of the colors in the produce area.......you can tell right off the bat when things are fresh, healthy and direct from the farm versus having sat around for a while.
Anyway.....it's been a very enjoyable trip.

What Charles said about salt is also true for sugar: sugar is sugar is sugar - one isn't better than the other, they're all sugar and no one really needs it! I'm not even doing the 90, just wanted to throw out my two cents :)

August 20, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterBuckhead Alisa

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