Video:What Is Agave Nectar?with Jacob Taxis
Agave nectar is a sweet, plant-derived liquid that's often used as a sugar alternative in cooking. This About.com video will explain more about the origins and uses of agave nectar.See Transcript
Transcript:What Is Agave Nectar?
Hi, I'm Jacob Taxis for About.com. In this video, you will learn about agave nectar.
Meaning of Agave Nectar
Agave nectar is a sweet, plant-derived liquid that is approximately 1 1⁄2 times sweeter than white sugar. The nectar, which is available in two different types (a milder "light" agave and a stronger-tasting "dark" agave) is used as a sugar alternative in a variety of foods and drinks. Sugar alternatives are often naturally occurring foods like raw honey and pure maple syrup. Sugar alternatives do contain sugar; however, they usually offer a unique benefit or set of benefits over white table sugar.
Sugar-free substitutes are most commonly available as artificial sweeteners like those you might find in diet soda. They simulate the taste of sugar and are less fattening.
Creating Agave Nectar
Agave nectar is produced by the carbohydrate-rich blue agave plants of Southern Mexico, but it is not a definitively natural sweetener. The majority of agave nectar in stores today is essentially manufactured using enzymes that have been genetically modified. It is not the same as the traditional, natural sweetener known as miel de agave—which literally means, "agave honey." Native peoples in Mexico produced agave honey by boiling agave leaves for prolonged periods of time.
Health Effects of Agave Nectar
Store-bought agave nectar has very high levels of concentrated fructose—similar to and sometimes higher than the levels in corn syrup. Also, when compared directly to white table sugar, agave nectar actually has more calories and carbohydrates.
However, agave nectar does have a lower glycemic index than granulated sugar. This means that it breaks down in the body more slowly and, therefore, causes a slower rise in one's blood sugar. It won't cause a fast spike in your blood sugar like table sugar would.
Using Agave Nectar
Agave nectar is most readily available in a syrup-like form. It tastes great and can be successfully incorporated into a number of recipes. For example, it makes for a delicious ingredient in limeade: simply mix together the correct proportions of water, milk, lime juice, and agave, and serve chilled. Or, the next time you want to make honey cornbread muffins, try switching it up by substituting agave nectar for the honey in your recipe to make agave cornbread muffins.
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