Confused about artificial sweeteners role in your diet? Curious about Agave? Want to ween yourself off of those unhealthy sugar laden treats? Or are you looking to cut a few extra pounds? If you really want to cut down on your total intake of sugar, consider decreasing all sugars, white, brown, powdered, raw, as well as honey. You could limit your intake of foods high in sugar to once a week rather than eating sweets daily. Another significant reduction in sugar could be made by adding only 1/2 to 1/3 the amount of sugar, honey, or agave nectar called for in a recipe. You will be surprised how good cookies taste with half the sweet stuff!
So Which One is Healthier? Sugar, Honey or Agave?
Sugar is a natural food. It comes from sugar cane or sugar beets. It is considered an empty calorie since there are not any vitamins or minerals in sugar. Some advocates of honey claim that honey has vitamins and minerals. Honey does contain some nutrients, but one tablespoon of honey will provide less than 1/100 of your Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA) for protein, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin C, calcium and iron. There is no vitamin A in honey. This is not a significant contribution to your diet nutrient wise and honey is adding calories along with those trace amounts of nutrients.
Agave nectar's low glycemic index makes it suitable for some individuals on low-carb or slow-carb diets (the Atkins Diet, the South Beach Diet) and for a variety of weight loss/management programs. Granulated sugar has an average glycemic index in the high 60's, while agave generally scores under 30. Foods with a glycemic index lower than 55 are considered low glycemic foods. Foods lower on the scale are less likely to trigger the body's mechanisms for fat storage. While it's not a "free" food for indiscriminate consumption, many individuals on a diet or weight maintenance plan find that agave is a healthier substitute for sugar, and that moderate use of agave nectar can help them enjoy foods that otherwise might be off limits. Though agave nectar is more calorie-dense than brown or white sugar, it is about 40% sweeter, so the amount of agave can be reduced.
Want to learn more on Agave Nectar and it's health benefits? Stay tuned to read more in next weeks article and even pick up some yummy recipes for the syrup.