Did you know that Americans on average consume over 100 pounds of sugar per year or about 2 pounds per week? This is staggering and way too much!! When you consider that one 12 oz.can of soda has 8 teaspoons of sugar, is it any wonder that we have an obesity problem in this country? The American Heart Association has been urging Americans to cut back on their sugar intake for several years. This organization has been trying to educate us to the huge amount of added sugars in our everyday diets, especially in soda and fruit drinks, ice cream, candy, pies, cookies, etc.
May Reduce Your Risk of Heart Disease
Dr. Rachel Johnson, Professor of Nutrition and Medicine at the University of Vermont was the lead author of “Dietary Sugars Intake and Cardiovascular Health: A Scientific Statement from the American Heart Association,” published in August 2009. In this report it stated that added sugars “offer no nutritional value other than calories to the diet,” and most Americans “could reduce their risk of heart disease by achieving healthy weight and the evidence is fairly clear that reducing the amount of sugars can help with that.”
Low Glycemic Index Value Stabilizes Blood Sugar
Agave nectar is fast becoming the sweetener of choice for those health conscious individuals looking to lower their sugar intake. In fact using agave nectar could lower your sugar intake by over 50%, since it is naturally sweeter than table sugar and you can use a lot less to achieve the same level of taste. Although agave nectar is not a zero-calorie sugar alternative, it does score lower on the glycemic index scale. This scale ranks carbohydrates according to their effect on blood glucose levels. Agave nectar has a glycemic value of 27, while other sweeteners have values of 32 or higher. Being low on this scale means that agave nectar does not cause either a sharp rise or fall in blood sugar levels. Choosing carbohydrates that are lower on this scale is the secret to weight loss and reducing the risk of heart disease and diabetes.
What Is Agave Nectar? – Choose Raw and Organic
Agave nectar is produced from several species of agave plant. The plant is large and spiky similar to the cactus or yucca. The Blue Agaves are the species most commonly used to make agave nectar. Often, the juice is extracted from the core of the plant, heated and concentrated until a syrupy liquid is formed. We prefer the raw and organic brands which are available. Raw means the nectar is kept at a low temperature to maintain its nutritional content. Mexicans called it aguamiel or “honey water” and the Aztecs considered it a gift from the gods. Agave nectar is very rich in saponins which are known to have natural immune strengthening, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. Agave nectar also contains inulin, a type of fiber which can help to suppress appetite, lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risks of cancer.
Tastes Delicious and Easy to Use
Agave Nectar is very tasty and easy to incorporate into recipes to replace sugar, particularly in liquid recipes. I use it to replace sugar in my homemade chili, spaghetti sauce, and pancake recipes. It is also amazing in cold drinks, such as lemonade and ice tea because it dissolves easily, unlike sugar and honey.
Besides its ability to dissolve in cold liquids, the other reason I keep Agave Nectar in the cupboard is because it does not lend any other flavor to recipes, like maple syrup and honey do. Sometimes honey or maple flavor just doesn’t work in a recipe.
Here is an easy and healthy recipe for all you moms who complain that your child won’t drink milk. I call it Vanilla Milk, even though there is no vanilla in the recipe. My kids love it. This tastes delicious hot too. Then we call it Hot Vanilla (for children who are sensitive to Cocoa).
½ C Whole Milk
1 tsp of Raw Organic Agave (to taste)
Pour milk in a cup and squeeze in a little Agave. Give it a quick stir and serve.
So why not start watching your sugar intake and give agave nectar a try. You might be pleasantly surprised how tasty and easy it is to incorporate this healthy alternative.