For many, many years, I was a big fan of honey as a replacement for white sugar — until, that is, I met up with organic agave (pronounced ah·GAH·vay), an excellent honey substitute.

AgaveWhat is agave?

Both honey and agave come from plants. While honey is, of course, made by bees from the sugary liquid they gather from flowers (along with internal bee enzymes), agave comes from the agave cactus.

Agave looks like honey (although slightly thinner in consistency) and tastes pretty much like honey, but it does seem quite a bit sweeter, so a little goes a long way, and doesn’t interfere with the taste of other foods as much as honey does. In short, it’s delicious!

Better yet, agave is extremely low on the Glycemic Index (per answers.com: "a numerical index given to a carbohydrate-rich food that is based on the average increase in blood glucose levels occurring after the food is eaten") — my take on that is, "how much your blood sugar will rise after eating a particular carbohydrate-rich food."

Now, while glycemic index charts differ, I’ve seen honey listed at 50-83 and agave at 16-27, which is very low. What this means to us is that, if we consume agave, we don’t get that "jacked up to the high hills" feeling with its attendant crash after the sugar rush. Your mileage may vary, but that’s been our experience.

Organic Agave

And the best news is that it is possible to get organic agave. So, this gives us a low-Glycemic Index honey substitute that is delicious, doesn’t interfere with the taste of foods, and doesn’t bring you the sugar rush-and-crash problem.

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16 Comments for "Organic Agave: the honey substitute"

  1. Yuri

    Yay. Gonna be costly to get this stuff to Siberia, I guess, though.

  2. Diane Vigil

    Maybe so; we get ours from Whole Foods Market and sometimes from Young Living Essential Oils. Looks like Whole Foods has some stores in the U.K., although I don’t know if they ship. You could always try …

  3. Kelly

    I came across your website and always appreciate good nutrition info. I wanted to let you know that at my new blog I mentioned Agave Nectar and a very knowledgeable commenter (Anna) left a lot of interesting information about why Agave Nectar might not be good for us after all. I was very bummed, as I had had great luck using it in my baked goods. The link to that post is here: http://www.kellythekitchenkop.com/2008/01/my-dark-secrets.html.
    I look forward to reading more at your site!
    Kelly

  4. Diane Vigil

    Thanks, Kelly. I took the liberty of sending our friend and contributing author, Lynn Cameron, to your blog to comment on Anna’s comment.

    Fact is, we who are seeking better nutrition and better ways of feeding our families — and to understand the nutritional and scientific aspects of all this — may happen across information that sounds good, but may not be true, or true as stated.

    As an aside, one of the things we try to achieve here at We Want Organic Food is to publish fact (or, if opinion, to identify it as opinion). To that end, I wrote Truth and Blogging from Authority in which I quoted a PhD in bacterial genetics, Pierre Far, who explains the way consensus is usually arrived at in the world of science. Pierre has this caveat:

    A huge problem in the science blogosphere is what’s called "blogging from authority" where a blogger claims ultimate knowledge because they are a PhD, or an expert, or whatnot, and so everything they say becomes the truth. … A bad science blog post will state the opinions of the blogger — who may know quite a bit! — but does not stand on the shoulder of evidence. The danger here is that the blogger, as an authority, will be disseminating false information that does not reflect current scientific thinking. If this relates to subjects like health and medicine, this could actually be dangerous!

    Lastly, if I may, I’ll quote a snippet from Lynn’s comment at your blog:

    My husband of 23 years has been a diabetic for 50 years and small amounts of organic blue agave nectar do not spike his blood sugar. … Agave syrup comes from the agave cactus and used to mainly go to the tequila trade until the health foodies found it — no good recommendation, I know. But, to say it is WORSE than super refined hybridized GMO high fructose corn syrup raised on chemicals in worn out soil and sprayed with toxins is undeserved criticism at best. I learned a lot about corn and syrup and fructose in Michael Pollan’s books, The Omnivore’s Dilemma and In Defense of Food.

  5. Debra

    Another good source of agave is from a Utah distributor at http://www.xagave.com. They use a blend of 2 agave types and I have been using the product now for a month with no blood sugar problem (I’m insulin resistant). They ship.

  6. ann m

    costco has agave – $7.75 for 23 oz. probably won’t be there long.

  7. Diane Vigil

    Hi Ann. Is Costco’s agave organic?

  8. Trevor Nalliah

    Thank You ;We Want Organic Food for your organic ice cream recipe. And for letting me know about the existence of
    Agave. Thank You again. TN.

  9. Diane Vigil

    You’re very welcome, Trevor. What we’ve found is that using fats (cream) and anything like agave (or honey, if you prefer that) makes the ice cream softer.

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