Agave is a deliciously sweet syrup used in a variety of health foods. If you're a health enthusiast searching for more information on agave and its benefits, then you're in the right spot! Continue reading as we discuss the multiple health benefits of agave and how you can work this natural sweetener into your healthy diet.
How Is Agave Made?
To fully understand agave and its natural benefits, let's take a closer look at how it is made. To make agave syrup, agave juice is extracted from the agave plant through a process of pulping and pressing the leaves. The liquids that are then filtered out of the leaves are heated to evaporate the water and tear down the complex sugars into simple sugars, forming a syrup. The result? Concentrated, sweet nectar with a low glycemic index (GI) compared to most sweeteners on shelves, including sugar!
Agave Nutrition Facts
When it comes to nutrition, agave also outranks many of its competitors. It is low calorie, carb, and sugar content make it a favorite sweetener among individuals following a rigid diet.
According to the USDA a single teaspoon of agave nectar has:
Carbs: The calorie and carb content of agave syrup is comparable to that of table sugar, corn syrup and maple syrup; however, agave undergoes a much more natural processing method leaving it free of artificial flavors and ingredients.
Is Agave a Sugar?
Agave nectar is one of the most delicious natural sweeteners around, that being said, it is still a sugar. The primary sugar found in agave is fructose. Fructose is a natural sugar found in most fruits, fruit juices, sweet vegetables, honey and agave. Though fructose has a lower GI than glucose, it is still recommended that you consume it in moderation.
During metabolization, fructose undergoes a process known as fructolysis. In fructolysis, fructose is converted by the liver into glucose, lactic acidosis, glycogen and triglycerides. The body then uses both glucose and lactic acid for energy.
Does Agave Contain Vitamins and Minerals?
Derived from the agave plant, agave nectar does contain trace amounts of specific vitamins like vitamins C and B, as well as minerals, including potassium, calcium and selenium. However, because the amount of these nutrients is so small, they are unlikely to provide much of a benefit.
Benefits of Agave
That being said, there are many benefits of agave, especially when used as a natural sweetener alternative. Here are a few of our favorites:
Agave Contains Phytonutrients
The juice of an agave plant contains phytonutrients that may have an antioxidant effect. Though these nutrients are found in small amounts, they are present in agave making a healthier alternative to table sugar.
Agave Is Really Sweet
If you are a fan of sweets, then you likely use your fair share of sweeteners. While adding sweetener to your morning coffee, daily smoothies and even oatmeal might not seem like much, the calories and harmful effects of table sugar can add up quickly. Because agave syrup is nearly twice as sweet as sugar, you can use much less of it to achieve the same great sweetness you crave in your beverages and food. Plus, by using less sugar, you'll also consume fewer calories and carbohydrates.
Agave is Allergy-Friendly
If you suffer from plant-based allergies, then you're in luck. Agave is a low-allergy food, and very few people ever experience a reaction when consuming agave. Because of this, agave syrup is an excellent sweetener to serve when creating meals for those who suffer from food allergies, such as peanut allergy or gluten intolerance. Use it as a sweetener in your favorite baked goods or topping on a mouthwatering stack of gluten free pancakes. Agave nectar is a sweetener that nearly everyone can enjoy.
Unlike Honey, Agave Is Vegan
Aside from being gluten free and allergy friendly, agave syrup is also vegan! This makes it an excellent choice for those who are looking for entirely plant-based alternatives to table sugars.
Agave Has an Appealing Taste
One of the undeniable benefits of agave nectar is its delicious taste. Unlike other natural sweeteners, agave does not have a bitter aftertaste or change the flavor of your meal. Instead, agave has a very neutral taste, which makes it the perfect addition to both sweet and savory dishes. This neutrality also allows agave to work better in than more potent syrups like maple syrup or honey in certain recipes.
Agave Inspired Recipes
Blackberry Vanilla Protein Pops
Summer is here, and with it comes warm weather and sun-filled days full of fun. So how can you ensure that you keep cool when spending time under the summer heat? Try your hand at making your very own popsicles. Popsicles are a delicious way to pack all of your favorite ingredients into a refreshing snack that you can enjoy on the go. The convenience of this sweet treat means that you'll spend less time in the kitchen deciding what to snack on, and more time outdoors soaking up the summer sun.
When made with healthy, wholesome ingredients, popsicles are also an excellent way to get your daily dose of vitamins and nutrients. For a naturally sweetened, high-protein popsicle recipe, we recommend making these Blackberry Vanilla Protein Pops. Vibrant and full of flavor, these pops are a delicious way to stay cool this summer. Plus, they're incredibly easy to make! All you have to do is blend all the ingredients in a blender and pour them into popsicle molds to freeze until you're ready to eat.
Sesame Matcha Shortbread Cookies
On the hunt for a dessert recipe that isn't full of sugar and artificial ingredients? While most store-bought, baked goods are laden with high fructose corn syrup, additives, and artificial flavors, that doesn't mean that you have to write dessert off altogether.
For a naturally sweetened cookie recipe, opt to make these homemade Sesame Matcha Shortbread Cookies. Light, crispy and entirely gluten free, these cookies are a delicious way to indulge in sweets without derailing your healthy diet.
Baked Blueberry Banana Chia Seed Oatmeal
At Bob's Red Mill, it is no surprise that we love oatmeal. Now, it may be the health enthusiast in us (or the many years spent producing high-quality oats), but we'd like to think that we're somewhat of an expert when it comes to oatmeal. We've tried every kind of oatmeal there is, and one thing we've found is that oatmeal made with healthy, all-natural ingredients is so much more flavorful than those made with processed sugars.
To help you understand where we're coming from, we set out to make a delicious, naturally, sweetened oatmeal made only with high-quality health-boosting ingredients. Oh, did we succeed. This Baked Blueberry Banana Chia Seed Oatmeal is a bowl full of flavor that will satisfy your nutritional needs and sugar cravings. It is made with our Quick Cooking Rolled Oats, Organic Chia Seed, bananas and fresh blueberries, and sweetened with agave nectar. Gluten free, high-fiber and soy-free, this recipe takes oatmeal to a whole new level.
Almond Coconut Sugarless Cookies
If you're reading the name of this cookie and wondering how a dessert can be sugarless, you're not alone. When we set out to make a cookie recipe sans sugar, we'll admit we were a little worried. When it comes to baked goods, processed sugar is often added in large amounts. However, using naturally sweet ingredients and wholesome sweeteners like agave makes a sugarless cookie recipe easy!
If you're searching for a sugarless dessert recipe, make these Almond Coconut Sugarless Cookies. Made with our Gluten Free Pizza Crust Mix, these cookies are anything but traditional. Sweetened with agave and flavored with almond and shredded coconut, they're a gluten free, low calorie, low carb, low sugar and soy-free dessert!
Almond, Agave and Oat Energy Bars
Want to try your hand at homemade energy bars? The key to a delicious energy bar is starting with a good recipe. While some energy bars are high in sugar, when making a homemade energy bar, you can use natural sweeteners to turn a combo of healthy ingredients into a dessert-like treat.
For an energy bar that satisfies your sweet tooth, whip up a batch of these Almond, Agave and Oat Energy Bars. A healthy snack or breakfast food, they make for the perfect grab-and-go snack when you're running short on time. Made with whole grains and sweetened with agave nectar, these indulgent bars are gluten free, high fiber, lactose-free, soy-free and vegan.
Sweeter than white sugar (and better for you too!) agave is an excellent natural sweetener to use when your favorite recipes need a flavor boost. Plant-based and full of health benefits, incorporating agave into your healthy diet is easy! Use this guide, and agave infused recipes to inspire you to start working this beneficial sweetener into your weekly meals.