Recently, we’ve noticed the conversation about agave nectar’s health benefits has become more divided and vocal. We often use agave nectar in our favorite raw dessert recipes, so when one of our favorite experts on sweets, Vanessa from Gnosis Chocolate, posted an article on her visit to her source of agave nectar that perfectly detailed the production process and addressed people’s concerns, we were thrilled. Here are the details of what Vanessa, also a Holistic Health Counselor, has to say:
· Agave nectar comes from the pina (heart) of the Agave plant and starts out with a much more dense, fibrous consistency.
· The process of creating agave nectar involves 3 main steps (all remaining below 118 degrees fahrenheit):
1. Shredding and crushing the pina. In this step, the pina is carefully broken down, then flushed with warm water and pressed to extract a light brown juice. All unused pulp is then composted in the facility she visited.
2. Filtering. The juice from the first step is poured into tanks with heating coils. The coils provide increased surface area and even heat distribution. This low temperature warming breaks down the juice into fructose through hydrolysis (think dehydration) and takes approximately 34 hours (cooked agave only takes 8 hours).
3. Evaporation. This is the fastest step of the process, where the juice is put into a pressure tunnel and the water is evaporated out within a vacuum to ensure that the temperature does not exceed 118 degrees. The extracted water is then recycled back to the first step of the process. This only takes a few seconds.
· The processes to create agave nectar and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), although they may appear similar on the surface, are extremely different, with agave nectar using nothing more than the plant, water and time to achieve the end result.
· Choosing your agave nectar is very important. Make sure that it is truly raw, additive free and monitored for temperature throughout the production process.
· The color of agave nectar is in large part due to the filtering process and the particles that make it through. While temperature and time will increase the dark amber hues, the particles have the largest impact on color (and taste).
· Agave nectar is a low-glycemic sweetener unlike other artificially produced sugar substitutes and does not have any aftertaste like other sweeteners, including stevia.
· While agave does have a low-glycemic index, it has a higher fructose content (around 90%). However, the fructose in agave nectar is not “free” fructose like in HFCS, which can be much more damaging. It’s also important to remember that almost every fruit and vegetable in existence contains fructose.
The key to agave nectar, as with any sugar/sweetener, is moderation and doing what you feel is best for you. We hope this helps explain all the conversation around agave. For more, please read Vanessa’s full Report on Agave Nectar.
FDA has not approved these statements. This report is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease.