Accepting Food Labels? Featured Food & Nutrition

Label Logic…Agave, The NOT So Natural Sweetener

Is Agave Healthy

To compound matters, when you go to the store and see dark and light agave, it gives the impression that this is an artisanal product, like maple syrup, and that it must mean something if you buy the light or amber color. What’s the difference?

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Is agave as healthy as we think?

The short answer is a resounding NO!

So, why then, are people using it as THE sugar substitute? Quite simply because we have been conditioned by advertisers and manufacturers to believe that it is healthy since it has a low glycemic index. The glycemic index measures, on a scale of 1 to 100, how a carbohydrate-containing food raises blood glucose and if you look at Agave on that scale, it only reports to be at 13.

This number is very misleading because what you are NOT being told is that agave is high in fructose, which is NOT healthy. As a matter of fact Agave’s fructose content is higher than any other common sweetener, and when consumed in large quantities, leads to insulin resistance. It is also implicated in the rising diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes, obesity and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. According to Dr. Andrew Weil,Americans consume much too much fructose, an average of 55 grams per day.”

Agave, which is derived from the agave plant, (the same plant that is used to make Tequila) is highly processed. Now, when you consider that the agave plant has been used medicinally, it may seem that this processed sweetener can’t be that bad, right? Unfortunately it is not tapped from the plant the same way one would tap a tree for maple syrup. Agave is made from the starchy root, which is high in inulin (mainly fructose) that is converted to syrup via a highly refined chemical process, involving dozens of chemicals, which is not at all how tequila is made (requires a fermentation process that is more natural).

According to the Weston A. Price Foundation,agave nectar and high fructose corn syrup are indeed made the same way, using a highly chemical process dependent on genetically modified enzymes…the refined fructose in agave nectar is much more concentrated than the fructose in high fructose corn syrup!”

To compound matters, when you go to the store and see dark and light agave, it gives the impression that this is an artisanal product, like maple syrup, and that it must mean something if you buy the light or amber color. What’s the difference?

As a result of the poor quality control in Mexico in the agave processing plants, sometimes the fructose gets burned if temperatures go above 140 degrees Fahrenheit, and it creates a dark, or amber color.

Hmn…an artisanal product? More like burnt toast, thank you very much!

Agave is found in many ‘healthy’ bottled green drinks and juices, as well as bottled iced teas, so beware of the label. Don’t be fooled just looking at the sugar content, which may have a zero next to it. Look carefully at the ingredients and if you see agave on the list, don’t buy it. Remember that the advertising agencies were hired to help the manufacturers sell more products. It is their job to get you to believe them and as a nation, we want to believe that there is a better choice than sugar and artificial sweeteners. Agave nectar is NOT the better choice. It is NOT a natural sweetener. It is NOT an alternative to sugar and artificial sweeteners. It is NOT comparable to honey and sap. If I haven’t made myself clear…put the agave down and step away from the counter.

Go for the fresh juices and drinks at the counter instead and use real maple syrup when baking. Your body will thank you for it!

To learn more about Sharon, visit her website where you can sign up for her newsletter. You can also follow her on Twitter and Facebook and join her private Facebook group for free. Interested in learning how to get healthy in 30 days? Click HERE to watch the video and learn all about the online 30 day healthy living program that is conducted monthly!

Identity Magazine is all about empowering women to get all A’s in the game of life – Accept. Appreciate. Achieve.™ Every contributor and expert answer the Identity 5 questions in keeping with our theme. Their answers can be random and in the moment or they can be aligned with the above article. As a team, we hope to inspire and motivate ourselves and inspire you to get all A’s.

What have you accepted within your life, physically and/or mentally? What are you still working on accepting?

I have accepted that I cannot change the past. I can only work on the present and the future.

What have you learn to appreciate about yourself and/or within your life, physically and mentally? What are you still working on to appreciate? 

I have learned to appreciate my ability and desire to keep learning and sharing information with the world about the foods we thought were healthy…

What is one of your most rewarding achievements in life? What makes YOU most proud? What goals and dreams do you still have?

My most rewarding achievement is being able to teach others on how to listen to their bodies and to read labels.

We all have imperfections, so we think. The truth—we are all perfectly imperfect. What are your not-so-perfect ways? What imperfections and quirks create who you are—your Identity? 

That I am not perfect! That I have been seen eating a slice of pizza!

“I Love My…” is an outlet for you to express and appreciate all the positive traits that make you…well… YOU! Sharing what you love about yourself will make you smile, feel empowered, and uplift your spirit and soul. (we assure you!) Identity challenges you to complete the phrase “I Love My…?” 

I love my outlook on life and learning and ultimately, sharing. It’s a great feeling when you see the lightbulb go off in someone’s eyes when they get what you are saying.

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About the author

Sharon Holand Gelfand

Sharon Holand Gelfand

A member of the American College of Nutrition, Sharon Holand Gelfand is a board certified nutrition consultant, lifestyle designer, motivational speaker and author whose mission is to empower women with the tools they need to live healthier, richer, spiritual lives. She’s passionate about helping them create a personal blueprint for success so that they can enjoy more balance and more freedom every day—without the constraints of traditional dieting.

Sharon’s unique perspective on nutrition is infused with real-life insight based on her own experiences managing her son’s Crohn’s Disease, Ulcerative Colitis and Ileitis, all part of Irritable Bowl Disease, an autoimmune disorder. It was only when dealing with her son’s condition that Sharon realized she had her own set of health issues which she had always ignored—hypoglycemia from constant dieting, chronic migraine headaches, anemia, strep, eye inflammation and chronic aches and pains in her neck. But by choosing healthier lifestyle options, she was able to not only help herself, but clear up her son’s chronic inflammation too.

Her philosophy? Eat well, think clearly, and live fully.

You can find out more about Sharon over at