Beyond Gorgeous

Eating healthy was hard enough when you just had to avoid chemicals.  Now bad-for-you stuff is sneaking into the stores masquerading as natural and healthy.

I was delighted to discover agave nectar. The very name sounds healthy.  Agave is the plant that grows wild in Mexico and nectar conjures up the image of a flower and bees.  Besides that, one of my favorite “clean eating” blogs uses it in the recipes so I don’t have to bother to do a conversion.  And I’m NOT good at converting recipes.

So I was dismayed when my food-knowledgable daughter found it in my cabinet and said, “Mom, you shouldn’t be using this.  It’s worse than high fructose corn syrup.”

That was condemnation, indeed!  After all the reading and research I’ve done I’ve come to the conclusion that fructose = poison.  It may be a slow poison and, like arsenic, a tiny bit won’t kill you.  A big amount over time, though, will make you obese and lead to a host of horrific diseases.

Surely not…. I checked it out and found, as usual, contradictory Web sites.  The pro-agave ones (all produced by the manufacturer or online store selling the sweetener) say it is natural, harmless, and does not cause a jump in your blood sugar.

The con-agave sites tell a different story.  While it does come from a plant, we don’t get the natural product. That’s not sap in the bottle, as I wrongly assumed.  Food producers strip off the leaves and take the bulb that is the agave’s core. That starchy root is processed until it is 90% fructose.  High fructose corn syrup is 55% fructose.  My daughter was right.  It is worse.   More fructose than high fructose corn syrup makes agave nectar a bad-for-you food.

Why then does agave have a low glycemic index?  More research and I found another sad answer.  The sugar from agave is metabolized in the liver and goes straight to fat, never getting to the blood stream.  Since the glycemic index is a measure of the sugar in your blood, it has a low number.   Besides, it contributes to insulin resistance, which is also bad news.

So this “natural” sugar substitute just got an eviction notice from my kitchen — and I’m going to be more careful to check out these things in the future!

Eating to live and living for Christ,

Susan Jordan Brown

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