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Agave Nectar, the high frutose health food fraud

edited September 2011 in Being Raw

Ok found this on Raw Chef Dan's site http://www.rawchefdan.com/raw_chef_dan/freerecipes.html and I'm wondering what everyone thinks of this. I'm kind concerned.

Agave Nectar, the High Fructose Health Food Fraud

by Rami Nagel

Agave nectar is advertised as a “diabetic friendly,†raw, and a “100%

natural sweetener.†Yet it is none of these.

The purpose of this article is to show you that agave nectar is in reality not

a natural sweetener but a highly refined form of fructose, more concentrated

than the high fructose corn syrup used in sodas. Refined fructose is not a

‘natural’ sugar, and countless studies implicate it as a sweetener that will

contribute to disease. Therefore, agave nectar is not a health building product,

but rather a deceptively marketed form of a highly processed and refined

sweetener.

Agave nectar is found on the shelves of health food stores primarily under the

labels, “Agave Nectar 100% Natural Sweetener,†(1) and “Organic Raw Blue

Agave Nectar.†(2) In addition, it can be found in foods labeled as organic

or raw, including: ketchup, ice-cream, chocolate, and health food bars.

The implication of its name, the pictures and descriptions on the product labels,

is that agave is an unrefined sweetener that has been used for thousands of

years by native people in central Mexico.

Botanically, agave plants are in the lily order Liliales and the order Asparagales (depending on which botanical taxonomic system you use) both of which define agave as a flowering plant. For “thousands of years natives to central Mexico used different species of agave plants for medicine, as well as for building shelter,†so claims the fanciful pedigree of this plant. Natives would also allow the sweet sap/liquid of the agave to ferment naturally, which created a mildly alcoholic beverage with a very pungent flavor known as ‘pulque’. They also made a traditional sweetener from the agave sap/juice (miel de agave) by simply boiling it for several hours. But, as one agave seller explains, the agave nectar purchased in stores is neither of these traditional foods: “Agave nectar is a newly created sweetener, having been developed during the 1990's.†(3)

What is Agave Nectar? ...

The principal constituent of the agave is starch, such as what is found in corn or rice. The process in which the agave starch is converted into refined fructose and then sold as the sweetener agave nectar is through an enzymatic and chemical conversion that refines, clarifies, heats, chemically alters, centrifuges, and filters the non-sweet starch into a highly refined sweetener, fructose. Here, a distinction must be made. Fructose is not what is found in fruit. Commonly, fructose is compared with its opposite and truly naturally occurring sweetener, known as ‘levulose’. There are some chemical similarities between fructose (man made) and levulose (made by nature), and so the synthetically refined sugar fructose was labeled in a way to make one believe it comes from fruit. Levulose is not fructose even though people will claim it is. Russ Bianchi is Managing Director and CEO of Adept Solutions, Inc., a globally recognized food and beverage development company. Russ explains: “If fructose were natural, I would be able to go out to corn field and get a bucket of sweetener. I can go to a beehive and get honey that I can eat without processing it. I can go to an apple tree and pick an apple and eat it. I cannot go out into a cornfield, squeeze corn, and get fructose syrup, and I cannot go into an agave field, and get the product sold on retail shelves, as agave nectar.

Falsely labeled agave fructose and high fructose corn syrup are both products of advanced chemistry and extensive food processing technology.†(4) Mr. Bianchi has an insider’s view of the health food industry and the food creation industry, having worked in the industry for decades.

Take water for example. We all know that the chemical formula for water is H2O: two hydrogens and one oxygen. The opposite would be O2H, which is nothing close to water. Likewise, manmade fructose would have to have the chemical formula changed for it to be levulose, so it is not levulose. Saying fructose is levulose is like saying that margarine is the same as butter. Refined fructose lacks amino acids, vitamins, minerals, pectin, and fiber. As a result, the body doesn’t recognize refined fructose. Levulose, on the other hand, is naturally occurring in fruits, and is not isolated but bound to other naturally occurring sugars. Unlike man-made fructose, levulose contains enzymes, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and fruit pectin. Refined fructose is processed in the body through the liver, rather than digested in the intestine.(5) Levulose is digested in the intestine. Refined fructose robs the body of many micronutrient treasures in order to assimilate itself for physiological use. While naturally occurring fruit sugars contain levulose bound to other sugars, high fructose corn syrup contains "free" (unbound), chemically refined fructose. Research indicates that free refined fructose interferes with the heart’s use of key minerals like magnesium, copper and chromium. (6)

The reason why refined fructose is used so commonly as a sweetener is simple: it’s extremely cheap in cost.

Agave nectar, as a final product, is mostly chemically refined fructose, anywhere from 70% and higher according to the agave nectar chemical profiles posted on agave nectar websites. The refined fructose in agave nectar is much more concentrated than the fructose in high fructose corn syrup. For comparison, the high fructose corn syrup used in sodas is 55% refined fructose. High fructose corn syrup is made with genetically modified enzymes. Is agave syrup (refined fructose) made the same way?

“They are indeed made the same way, using a highly chemical process with genetically modified enzymes. They are also using caustic acids, clarifiers, filtration chemicals and so forth in the conversion of agave starches into highly refined fructose inulin that is even higher in fructose content than high fructose corn syrupâ€, says Mr. Bianchi. Inulin is a chain of chemically refined fibers and sugars linked together, and, this bears repeating, high fructose inulin has more concentrated sugar than high fructose corn syrup!

In a confidential FDA letter, Dr. Martin Stutsman (from the Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Labeling Enforcement) explains the FDA’s food labeling laws related to Agave Nectar:

“Corn syrup treated with enzymes to enhance the fructose levels is to be labeled ‘High Fructose Corn Syrup.’†According to Mr. Stutsman, agave, whose main carbohydrate is starch, requires the label “hydrolyzed inulin syrup.†Even though, like corn, agave is a starch processed with enzymes, it does not require the label high fructose agave syrup because the resulting refined fructose sweetener is so sweet that it is chemically closer to inulin.

From this point forward, agave nectar will be referred to by a more accurate name: agave syrup.

This name is also legally uncomplicated and non-deceptive, per US Federal labeling laws, even though the true name would be hydrolyzed high fructose inulin syrup. “The product called ‘agave nectar’ is really chemically refined hydrolyzed high fructose, which is intentionally mislabeled to deceive consumers,†states Mr. Bianchi.

In a stunning report released in October 2008, the U.S. government’s own accountability office reported that of the thousands of food products imported into the US each year from 150 countries, just 96 total food items were inspected by the FDA to insure label accuracy and food safety. (7) The FDA doesn’t usually protect consumers regarding food safety or food labeling, nor does it usually take action against many misleading labels. This was seen with the processed infant formula scandal from China, where infant milk powder was tainted with toxic melamine.

High Fructose Agave’s Dubious History

In the year 2000, with warrants in hand, federal agents from the Office of Criminal Investigations of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) came banging on the door of North America’s largest agave nectar distributor, Western Commerce Corporation in California. In an extremely rare case of the FDA protecting consumer interests (rather than supporting big business, while shutting down legitimate and health consciousness competition), they discovered that Western Commerce Corporation was adulterating their agave syrup with high fructose corn syrup (to lower the cost even more and increase profit margins). While the federal agents confiscated the material in the warehouse, the owners of Western Commerce Corporation were nowhere to be found. Those who ran the company fled the country with millions of dollars in assets to avoid criminal prosecution.

This adulterated agave syrup (refined fructose) was also labeled as certified organic (8) to fool consumers into thinking they were getting a pure product. This shows you how unverified organic labels were used in the USA, and continue being used even now.

Today, high fructose agave syrup is made primarily by two companies, Nekulti, and IIDEA. Yet a third agave marketer, by the name of ‘Volcanic,’ has a suspicious claim on their website. “If your agave comes from one of the other two companies in Mexico, something has been added.†(9)

They are referring to Nekulti and IIDEA. Their claim is based upon an analysis, which claims that their agave nectar has a lower refined fructose level.

Blue Agave Nectar is Not a Safe Sweetener

When the Spaniards came to the New World, around 1535, they brought with them a

desire for brandy. When their supplies ran out they had to find a new alcoholic beverage to replace their lost brandy. The Spaniards found that by distilling the juice of the plant now known as the blue agave plant they could produce a potent alcoholic beverage, which over time has evolved into what we now call tequila. In order to produce a sweetener from the blue agave plant, the entire pineapple -like, giant root bulb of the plant is removed from the earth. It is then dried and juiced, making an agave starch juice. This in no way resembles any form of traditional use of the blue agave plant. While great for distilling tequila, the blue agave plant, when transformed through a chemical process into refined fructose, may contain many properties that make them dangerous and toxic for regular human consumption.

"Yucca species, together with other agaves, are known to contain large quantities of saponins," according to Tyler's Honest Herbal. Saponins in many varieties of agave plants are toxic steroid derivatives, as well as purgatives, and are to be avoided during pregnancy or breastfeeding because they might cause or contribute to miscarriage. These toxins have adverse effects on nonpregnant people and many health compromised consumer categories as well. They are known to contribute to internal hemorrhaging by destroying red blood cells, and they may gravely negatively harm people taking statin and high blood pressure drugs. Agave may also stimulate blood flow in the uterus.(10) Other first hand reports indicate agave may promote sterility in women. Since the agaves used for agave syrup are not being used in their traditional way, there should be a warning label on the sweetener packages that it may promote miscarriage during pregnancy, through weakening the uterine lining.

What’s wrong with Fructose?

Once eaten, refined fructose appears as triglycerides in the blood stream, or as stored body fat. Elevated triglyceride levels, caused by consumption of refined fructose, are building blocks for hardening human arteries. Metabolic studies have proven the relationship between refined fructose and obesity.(11) Because fructose is not converted to blood glucose, refined fructose doesn’t raise nor crash human blood glucose levels — hence the claim that it is safe for diabetics.

Supposedly, refined fructose has a low glycemic index, and won’t affect your blood sugar negatively. But the food labels are deceptive. Refined fructose is not really safe for diabetics.

“High fructose from agave or corn will kill a diabetic or hypoglycemic much faster than refined white sugar,†says Mr. Bianchi. “By eating high fructose syrups, you are clogging the veins, creating inflammation, and increasing body fat, while stressing your heart. This is in part because refined fructose is foreign to the body, and is not recognized by it.â€

The average person consumes about 98 pounds of highly refined corn fructose per year in the USA, that roughly translates into half a cup of refined fructose per day. In an average supermarket, at least 2/3 of all items contain some form of highly refined fructose, because it is one of the cheapest ingredients and fillers for foods, next to water, air, and salt. In health food stores, some foods contain a sweetener called crystalline fructose or other sweeteners labeled as fructose. Essentially, these are all refined corn fructose, labeled in a way to trick people that it is something more natural. Mr. Bianchi concludes:

“The simple answer tends to be the correct one. There is no land of milk and agave. Milk comes from goats, cows, humans, etc., and honey comes from bees. What I want people to understand is that mislabeling a sweetener like agave syrup is about money and profit, to the real determent of your health. The unethical factor is that the natural health food business has gone to great lengths in the case of agave to defraud consumers, by deceiving and lying to those who are trying to seek better health. There is something ethically worse about a company pretending to sell something all natural to people seeking health, than a mainstream company not pretending that their food is healthier. For example, nobody selling fast and junk foods is advocating it is health food. When you are in a natural health food store, you expect to pay extra money for something that is good for you. We have con artists here, pretending to deliver better health at a higher cost, when in reality it is equal to, or much worse than the many other sweeteners or harmful junk food. People are expecting to receive health, and are intentionally being defrauded for profit.â€

Amber Agave Syrup (refined fructose)

Agave syrup (refined fructose) comes in two colors: clear or light, and amber. What is this difference? Mr. Bianchi explains, “Due to poor quality control in the agave processing plants in Mexico, sometimes the fructose gets burned after being heated above 140 degrees Fahrenheit, it creates a darker, or amber color.â€

Chain Food Stores and Health Food Stores

When Western Commerce Corporation was shut down, due to their agave syrup alteration scheme in 2000, the big guys in the food industry stayed away from any agave syrups. They knew better than to risk lawsuits, and health consumer fraud. “They were clear that agave was criminally mislabeled per US Code Of Federal Regulation labeling laws, with an untried sweetener, new to the market, that contained saponins, and was not clearly approved as safe for use.†explains Mr. Bianchi. For many years following this bust agave syrup was not used.

But recently, some sellers in the agave syrup field, once quiet, have begun sneaking back into the food and beverage chain. And retail food giants like Whole Foods, Wegman’s, Trader Joes and Kroger, (12) who should know better, and who should know the food labeling laws and requirements, still have no hesitation in selling the toxic, unapproved, and mislabeled refined fructose agave syrup, as well as products containing it. Mr. Bianchi explains the legality of this practice. “The simple answer here, again, tends to be the correct one. The stores carry agave products knowing that if they are caught, the legal responsibility will be on the agave sellers and producers, and not the stores. They will just pull it off the shelves. They may also be victims themselves and lied to by the purveyors and sellers of agave products. So long as agave products are profitable, the stores will carry them, regardless of fraudulent labeling or health oncerns.

Stores will continue to carry agave until consumer fraud complaints to local district attorneys, consumer unions, class action litigation or severe reactions like death ensue.â€

Conclusions on Agave Syrup

Without the FDA making efforts to enforce food-labeling laws, consumers cannot be certain that what they are eating is even what the label says it is. New sweeteners like agave syrup (refined fructose) were made to coin a profit, and not to help or assist vital health. Due to the lies from many companies who sell agave syrup (refined fructose), you have been led to believe that it is a safe and a natural sweetener. The retail refined agave syrup label does not explain that it goes through a complicated chemical refining process of enzymatic digestion, which converts the starch into the free, man-made chemical fructose that has a direct link to serious the degenerative disease conditions so prevalent in our culture. While high fructose agave syrup won’t spike your blood sugar levels, the fructose in it will cause: mineral depletion, liver inflammation, hardening of the arteries, insulin resistance leading to diabetes, cardio-vascular disease, obesity, and may be toxic for use during pregnancy.

If you want to buy something sweet, get a piece of fruit, not a candy bar labeled as a “health food.†If you want to create something sweet, use sweeteners that are known to be safer. For uncooked dishes, unheated raw honey or dates work well. For cooked dishes or sweet drinks, a good organic maple syrup, or even freshly juiced apple juice or orange juice can provide delicious and relatively safe sweetness. In general, to be healthy, we cannot eat sugar all day, no matter how natural the form of sugar is, or is claimed to be. One should limit total sweetener consumption to approximately 10% of daily calories. Or one sweet side dish per day, (like a bowl of fruit with yogurt.)

While it may be depressing news to hear about the lack of standards in the health food world, let this news help encourage you to seek access to more pure and unrefined foods and sweetener sources, so that you can be healthier.

Additional Reading – Published Books that Talk about the Dangers of Refined Fructose and problems with food labeling and deceptive health practices.

Sweet Deception by Dr. Joseph Mercola

The Truth About the Drug Companies by Marcia Angell

In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan -

The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan -

Sugar Shock! by Connie Bennett

Super Size Me by Morgan Spurlock

Fast Food Nation, Eric Schlosser

Welcome to Food Politics by Marion Nestle

Generation Rx, Greg Crister

Bad Foods, Michael Oakes

Food Fight by Dan Imhof

The Sugar Fix, Timothy Gower, Richard Johnson

Please Don't Eat the Wallpaper, Dr. Nancy Irven

Understanding R Epidemic, Sylivia Ledoux 2008

Fat Politics by J. Eric Oliver

Obesity Epidemiology, Frank Hu

Articles Links

1. (http://www.madhavasagave.com/AgavePromo.aspx)

2. (http://www.wholesomesweeteners.com/brands/Wholesome_Sweeteners/Organic_Raw_

Blue_Agave.html)

3. (http://www.madhavahoney.com/agave.htm)

4. (http://servicesdirectory.ift.org/cms/?pid=3003&companyId=2380044)

5. (http://journalism.nyu.edu/pubzone/annotate/node/132)

6. (http://www.westonaprice.org/modernfood/highfructose.html) (USDA in Beltsville

studies)

7. (http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d08597.pdf)

8. (http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m3289/is_/ai_55084258)

9. (http://www.volcanicnectar.com/blueagavefaq.html)

10. (http://childbirthsolutions.org/articles/pregnancy/herbsandvit/index.php)

11. (http://news.ufl.edu/2005/12/06/fructose/) (http://healthnews.uc.edu/news/?/825/ )

(http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081016074701.htm)

(http://www.ajcn.org/cgi/content/full/79/4/537)

12. (http://www.time.com/time/specials/2007/article/0,28804,1706699_1707550_1814004,00 .html)

2»

Comments

  • UGGG...I've been using that daily for months. Why don't I just crack open a few sodas. Thanks for the info. Maybe now I'll lose weight instead of gaining...arggg! This could be my culprit because although I've loosened up on my eating, I haven't done it that much! Ohhh, the disappointment. From now on I'm going to investigate further before using anything packaged!

  • Actually there is one brand, It starts with an "M" and it comes from Mexico where the agave nectar is heated under 115 degrees, the bottle clearly states that and it is organic and 100% raw. It's at my house, where i'm not, so I cant remember the name, but I"ll try and find it....

  • I was recently in Mexico and purchased agave, it IS raw, Ithe name escapes me at the moment, I'll have to check when I get home.

  • I don't necessarily believe agave is the healthiest thing ever, but we need a reality check.

    Fructose is the same thing as levulose, C6 H12 O6. Seriously. Look it up.

    Fructose is indeed found naturally in fruits and honey.

    Inulin is a polysaccharide, which is a type of fiber. It is a prebiotic, which means it offers food for beneficial organisms in your insides--that is, your intestines.

    I don't think anyone (manufacturer or otherwise) is claiming that agave does not need to undergo an enzymatic process to become sweet. I have no reason to doubt manufacturers (such as Madhava) as to the process of keeping the nectar/syrup under 115 degrees or whatever. Just as I generally trust someone who says a product is actually processed at low temperatures.

    Of course, if you want the most natural sugar, go for fresh fruit. But some of us like chocolate. A lot. And I find that honey or dates give me serious blood sugar problems, while agave does not. Your mileage may vary.

    As for whether agave is "too high" in fructose or is good or bad for diabetics, I don't know. However, this article has enough inaccuracies that I would recommend looking elsewhere for information.

  • I was pretty concerned but ambiquous your right, I'll be researching further. Another sweetner that I don't see much in the raw recipes is Stevia.

    I've been using agava in my tea every day now and think perhaps I'll start cutting back and using honey instead for awhile, though honey has it's arguments as well. Fruit in it's natural state is really the best thing but ya I like my chocolate and my raw deserts too much to go completely just fruit.

    It's good to be informed.

    Eloisa that's the Agava that I use too, the raw organic stuff, but I think I'll still kind of use it sparingly from now on.

  • Here is a rebuttal article to the above article that Natural News just sent out this morning:

    Agave Nectar: A Rebuttal to Misinformed Attacks on this Natural Sweetener

    by Craig Gerbore, President of Madhava, citizen journalist

    (NaturalNews) Last week, NaturalNews published a Citizen Journalist article on agave nectar that criticized the sweetener, saying it was a refined sweetener much like syrup. That article created quite a stir and raised many questions from health-conscious consumers. To tell the other side of the story, we invited the president of Madhava, Craig Gerbore, to submit a response.

    What follows is a very thoughtful rebuttal to the original article on agave nectar that appeared on NaturalNews (http://www.naturalnews.com/024892.html). It explains in great detail some of the behind-the-scenes issues involving agave nectar, and it describes how modern agave nectar processing is very different from the outmoded methods described in Nagel's article. It also points out many apparent errors and misrepresentations in the original article. I must emphasize that the original article was a Citizen Journalist article, not an in-house article, and thus it represented the opinions of its author, not NaturalNews. Here at NaturalNews, we continue to publish contributed articles that vary somewhat from our own opinions in order to allow the reader access to more diverse information on important topics.

    NaturalNews has promoted agave nectar for many years, believing it to be a healthy, low-glycemic alternative to conventional sweeteners. We hope that this rebuttal from Madhava will help bring more clarity to the agave nectar issue. Here is the full rebuttal from Craig Gerbore:

    In response, I must first point out that Mr. Nagel's article is based on the view of a sole individual, Russ Bianchi. I suppose we should thank Mr. Bianchi for pointing out some issues that may have contributed to Iidea's (the initial manufacturer of blue agave nectar) demise from the market, however I want to be clear, this is not about Madhava or our agave nectar. Once a dominant supplier, as of this past summer Iidea is no longer a major supplier in the agave syrup business. The distributors using them as a supplier have quietly switched to newly formed blue agave companies for their supply. Madhava has always worked exclusively with Nekutli, the producer of agave nectar from the agave salmiana, a very different species of the agave.

    However, there is no mention of our agave nectar from salmiana in the article, nor of the differences in the plant, the collection and production of our product. So, the author has blurred the line with his all encompassing attack on blue agave nectar, by his failure to present complete information on the subject of agave nectars. For what purpose was this article written? If it were to educate the public, I think it would include all the information available. With the errors and misstatements and half-truths, I don't think this article is about education, it is an all out shotgun attack.

    I believe Mr. Bianchi, presented as the sole authority on agave nectar, was initially introduced to Iidea's blue agave syrup product on their entry to the market in the late 90's. At that time, Iidea was promoting a 90% fructose agave syrup. This is what I believe Mr. Bianchi is referring to. Unfortunately, he ignores the fact that this is not the agave sold on the market today, nor is it representative of Madhava's product. In fact Mr. Bianchi has never even acknowledged the existence of our agave nectar from the salmiana variety. So, all his comments are apparently based on his experience with Iidea's product, but I find ourselves caught in the blast.

    In their zestful attack against the blue agave syrup he was introduced to initially, Mr.'s Bianchi and Nagel have also made inaccurate comments which reflect on agave nectar generally. As such, I take issue with several of their statements and claims and want to clarify some things as regards Madhava's Agave Nectar from agave salmiana.

    Their discussion of the processing of agave nectar is in no way reflective of how Madhava's agave nectar is produced. There are three ways to convert complex sugars into a simple sugar sweetener such as agave syrup. It can be done thermally, chemically, or enzymatically as ours is. There are no chemicals whatsoever involved in the production of Madhava's agave nectar from agave salmiana, nor is it cooked. Our agave is subject only to low temperatures during the evaporation of excess water from the juice.

    The author states "The principal constituent of the agave is starch, such as what is found in corn or rice."

    This statement, which is the foundation of much of their argument comparing agave nectar to corn syrup, has no basis in scientific fact, THERE IS NO STARCH IN THE AGAVE.

    How can the author and his source be so mistaken on this statement on which he bases his attack?

    All plants store energy in one of two ways, as starches or fructans. All agave plants create fructans as their energy storing means.

    So, agave plants have fructans, not starch. From Wikipedia: Inulins are a group of naturally occurring polysaccharides produced by many types of plants. They belong to a class of fibers know as fructans. Inulin is used by some plants as a means of storing energy and it typically found in roots or rhizomes. Most plants which synthesize and store inulin do not store other materials such as starch.

    There is no starch in either species of agave, and agave nectar is not from starch as the author and Mr. Bianchi claim. They have tried very hard to propagandize the public with a false fact, either by design, or ignorance, for which there would be no excuse.

    Such an error of fact certainly casts doubt on the validity of the rest of Nagel's article, as the lack of depth of his research has to be apparent to all. Really, he is just regurgitating the singular views of Mr. Bianchi.

    I personally spoke with the author during his "research", as did at least one other in the industry. He chose not to include one word of the information given to him by us, which I will repeat below, and failed to make any distinction between Madhava's Nekutli agave nectar from salmiana and that from the blue agave plant. He only mentions blue agave. The plants differ, the locations differ, the methods and production differ greatly. The information we gave him did not fit his purpose and so was omitted in favor of a generalized attack.

    Madhava's source is exclusively agave salmiana. If you haven't already reviewed our site at www.madhavasagave.com , you will find background information there. Briefly though, the native people supplying the juice collect it from the live plant, by hand, twice daily. There is no heat involved in the removal. The juice is immediately brought to the facility to remove the excess water as it will ferment rapidly if left standing. It is during the removal of the moisture that the only heat is applied. The juice is evaporated and moisture removed in a vacuum evaporator. The vacuum enables the moisture to be withdrawn at low temperatures. The temp is closely controlled. Subsequently, our agave is handled and packaged at room temperatures. No other heat is applied. And, rather than convert the complex sugars of the juice thermally, we use gentle enzymatic action. Just as a bee introduces an enzyme to flower nectar to make honey, we introduce an natural organic vegan enzyme for the same purpose. The technical term for the conversion of complex sugars into their simple sugar components is hydrolysis. Inulin is a fructan which is hydrolyzed into the simple sugars composing agave nectar, fructose and glucose. Honey is composed of the same simple sugars.

    The blue agave plant is harvested and the blue agave nectar is produced by a completely different method. I will have to leave it to the blue agave nectar sellers to comment on the production themselves. While I know of it, I have not witnessed it as I have Nekutli's. Unlike the author, I won't comment publicly on something I cannot verify.

    To clarify further on another claim, "Agave Nectar as a final product is mostly chemically refined fructose". As regards Madhava's agave nectar, there are no chemicals involved in our production whatsoever. The sugars in our agave nectar come from the breakdown of the inulin molecule through the introduction of the enzyme to break apart that molecule. It is in no way chemically refined, there are no chemicals involved in any part of the production or packaging process. Our agave nectar is refined only in as much as the excess moisture is removed from the juice of the plant.

    "HFCS is made with GM enzymes". Bianchi's states "they (agave and corn syrup) are indeed made the same way" This is another false assertion as regards Madhava's agave nectar at least. Our agave nectar is certainly and clearly not made the same way as corn syrup. There is no starch in our agave. There are no chemicals, no refinement beyond the evaporation of water. And, there are no GMO's whatsoever. The agave salmiana has never been subject to this and the enzyme is a natural, non GM organic, vegan enzyme.

    Other points regarding fructose apply to sugars in general and are a consumption, or overconsumption issue. Certainly consuming large amounts of sweeteners of any kind will be detrimental to one's health. Suggesting fructose could cause health issues when concentrated amounts are eaten is a statement which should really apply to the overconsumption issue. The information the author links to agave nectar is the result of megadose testing of pure clinical fructose. Not the same thing as normal daily use of agave nectar in the course of our meals.

    The antisweetener advocates just have to admit that it is the overconsumption of sugars that is the problem. Used in moderation, sugars serve a purpose, to make other foods and beverages more palatable. Imagine a world without sweeteners if you can. Affinity for sweet taste is a human trait that most want to satisfy. For those who use sweeteners, there are limited choices available and many choose agave for its particular attributes. It is a good choice. Madhava Agave's neutral flavor suits the purpose. It is in fact low glycemic, organically certified and non allergenic. Many with diabetes and other special diets find it suitable for their use where other sweeteners are not. It's easy to use and you can use less.

    And, we guarantee the purity of our product. Attached is a letter from the CEO of Nekutli stating this guarantee that Nekutli agave syrup is pure and unadulterated, from the natural juice of agave salmiana.

    While it remains up to the individual to maintain balance in their diet and monitor their overall consumption of sweets, Nekutli/Madhava's Agave Nectar does have advantages over other sweeteners and that is why it has become so popular and received so much attention today.

  • Why not have a lab analyze it and see for sure if it is RAW?

    That is the only way to prove it AFAIAC.

    Then there are MORE questions:

    Also, is this a natural product, did our ancestors from Africa eat it??

    How long has it been in the human diet?

    Why do they put it in a plastic bottle (mine is in plastic)??

    Does it raise people's sugar levels?

    Is raw honey or dates better for a sweetener?

    Are any sweeteners REALLY good for us?

    Do the healthiest cultures of the world add sweeteners to their foods, if so, what do they use?

    Did the hunter/gatherers use sweeteners?

    Do any animals on this planet other than people use sweeteners with their food?

    Also, I don't trust any CEO from any business, unless I know them personally. They will simply tell you what you want to hear. They are kind of like used car salesmen.

    ;-)

  • I saw this article as well... We need to be very diligent as there is lot of misinformation out there... Payed For in a lot of cases...

  • I stick to taking my regular organic vitamins every day exercising a few times a week etc anything thats new and comes out without good reviews i usually skip on trying or taking.

  • Here's my, admittedly simple, take on agave:

    Inulin is the main source of the sweetness.

    Inulin is processed by the liver, and only the liver.

    My liver is overburdened enough with environmental toxins, my current cleansing as I transition to raw, and who knows what else that I can't control. I'll eat it occasionally in things I purchase at the health food store, but don't keep it in the house.

    I've found that Stevia is my preferred sweetener. And as a bonus, my hypoglycemia has improved drastically since beginning to use it. (And I wasn't using ANY sweetener before, so the improvement wasn't from limiting other sweeteners.)

    YMMV

    Hth!

  • I currently use Organic Raw Blue Agave from Wholesome Sweeteners to sweeten my coffee (yes, I drink coffee!). Here's their spiel on how it's processed:

    "Wholesome Sweeteners Organic Raw Blue Agave is a natural sweetener extracted from the core of the Blue Agave plant. Made from organically grown and processed Weber Azul, Organic Raw Blue Agave offers natural sweetness without the blood sugar spike. This sweet, mild nectar is a perfect multi-purpose sweetener for beverages, fresh fruit and general table-top use. With a glycemic index of 39 or less, it is the preferred sweetener of many trying to control their blood sugar. And it is about 25% sweeter than sugar, so you can use less. Raw Blue Agave is non-crystallizing and quick dissolving.

    Specially produced at temperatures below 118° F to minimize enzymatic breakdown and deliver a full, natural flavor, Organic Raw Blue Agave Nectar is perfect for everyone, including raw-food enthusiasts! This amber nectar has a distinct and delicious flavor that genuinely enhances foods' natural sweetness. It is 25% sweeter than sugar, so less is needed. It is certified Organic and GMO-Free, and appropriate for vegan and plant-based diets. It is stable, non-crystallizing and quick dissolving. "

    I'm very pleased that the CEO from Madhava Agave Nectar took the time to write a response to the allegations against Agave sweetener. Since I am not a chemist, I have no way of knowing for sure who is exactly right in the whole argument for or against Agave sweetener being natural/raw/healthy and therefore have to rely on other peoples empirical data. Regardless of who's information is more accurate, I believe that main point that at least I'm taking from this debate is the reminder that sweets should be limited to about 10% of daily calories. That's going to be a challenge for me.

    Oh and I've never tried a Stevia that I liked, they all have what I can best describe as a funky aftertaste. If anyone has a particular brand they can recommend that doesn't have the aftertaste, please pass it along.

    --Ahimsa

  • WHOah I have heard some of this but the part about miscarriages etc wow that is scary. I love maple syrup and honey so I opt for those even though agave is cheaper. How disappointing there is industry trying to decieve those who love their health.

  • "Fructose is not what is found in fruit. Commonly, fructose is compared with its opposite and truly naturally occurring sweetener, known as ‘levulose’. There are some chemical similarities between fructose (man made) and levulose (made by nature), and so the synthetically refined sugar fructose was labeled in a way to make one believe it comes from fruit."

    Apparently the author of this article never studied nutrition, basic organic chemistry or medical biochemistry before. To claim that fructose is not naturally occurring in fruits and vegetables is like saying thunderstorms are man-made! Interesting that he considers fructose and levulose two different things--when they are exactly one and the same!

    The author also states that fructose contributes to hardening of the arteries--false! In fact, fructose does metabolize into triglycerides, or free fatty acids, which get further broken down into very low density lipids, or VLDL, the good cholesterol we need in our diets that keep HDL, the bad cholesterol, in check. This article is so full of fallacies and blatant lies it's absurd, and I don't have time to blast every single one. I suggest you all research the claims for yourselves and arm yourselves with the knowledge needed to be able to spot one of these bogus articles in the future.

    This is yet another ploy to take advantage of people's ignorance and scare them away from natural, healthy foods so that they can continue to pour money into the FDA/Pharmaceutical company mafia, who relies upon diabetics, hypertensives, and allergics--all people suffering things that can be alleviated with a clean, organic wholesome (preferably vegetarian, vegan or raw vegan) diet and proper exercise.

  • Rami Nagel wrote the article with Sally Fallon Morell of Weston A. Price Foundation. In doing so they have garnered massive amounts of attention. Personally I believe they are misrepresenting the facts and drawing obtuse conclusions - Ultimately to direct people Weston A. Price Foundation’s web site to purchase a membership, shameless imo.

    at this point i defer to ambiguous' post.

  • I haven't, but I understand it's liquid sucralose, aka Splenda? I have some liquid sucralose I bought a few years back. I haven't used it as much as I thought I might, for the simple reason that so often I'm cooking in the context of writing recipes for publication, and it makes more sense to use the widely-available Splenda Granular, even if it does have a little carb in it.

    John

    Agave

  • What about stevia? Im using it from time to time...I just find "good" reviews about it but know, I doubt :(

  • Well, I'm satisfied that it's no worse than any other decent sweetener (stevia is probably the safest, but I don't like the aftertaste) so I shall keep using it. I prefer it to maple syrup and honey because it doesn't have a distinct flavor. What I don't understand is that the original article bashing agave kept stating over and over that it's so much more concentrated than high fructose corn syrup. Well, so what? You just use less. lol

  • Here's a link to an audio interview on agave:

    http://sunfiresuperfoods.com/super-food/vanilla-agave-nectar/

    There's a lot of interesting info about how agave is produced and processed. Please let me know your take on it!

    Also, in a recent David Wolfe interview, he states the raw community was sold a bill of goods by the makers of agave advertising this sweetener as a healthy raw food. There is/was a criminal element in the agave industry, since the same companies that make tequila also make agave. So they are not at the same level of consciousness as some companies that specialize in raw food.

    Blessings,

    Andrew

  • What about raw yacon syrup as an agave replacement? Or does this have the same alleged problems?

  • alexa: As far as I know, yacon syrup is not as high in fructose, and it does not go through the process of hydrolyzation like most agave. Also, it is considered a prebiotic, which is essentially food for the probiotic bacteria in your gut. The glycemic index is around 20-25, according to vivapura.com.

    That said, I've been told it is not truly raw, since it is heated to temperatures of around 180 degrees. In the interview above, Dave from Sunfire Foods claims it has a high microbial content.

    Overall, as a sweetener yacon is likely preferable to most agave products on the market. However, if the soon-to-be available Sunfire Foods agave is all that it's cracked up to be, maybe there's still hope for agave as a "semi-healthy" sweetener.

    Blessings,

    Andrew

  • I have really raw agave and it is totally different in taste to the ones that are more readily available. I don't use it often just if I am making a pudding as when I use raw honey this seems to voerpower the flavour. I think that if people are using it in moderation then fine. It is surley better than white processed sugar. I have also been using more fresh dates in things to get sweetness. Fresh dates are hard to get hold of in the UK tho and I have been told that Medjool dates are heated to dry them a little.

    I think as long as agave is not over used daily then it's fine with me.

    K x

  • I use Madhava and sometimes Wholesome agave and I am very happy with agave. I use 2-3 tablespoons daily with my oats. I like Madhava organic light 11.75 oz bottles best (I like the bottle caps, but have some kitchen scissors handy - these caps make it easy to pour into measuring spoons). Madhava Raw organic light isn't currently available, but they're trying to eventually bring it back to market. I don't agree with much of this negative agave information. I believe agave is an excellent alternative to honey, stevia, white sugar, and all the other sweeteners. My local health store only carries Wholesome now, so I will have to buy Madhava online or I'll have to buy Wholesome, but I prefer Madhava salmiana - it seems more neutral.

  • Just a clarification for the newbies. It is possible to be raw and not to depend on any sweetners at all. You can use pinapple, orange, and bananas if you feel that you need the the extra kick of the sugar. For example, when I have granola for breakfast, sometimes I mix a banana with the milk before pouring it in the bowl. If on top of that you add some raisins, or dried blueberries, that would give you pleanty of sweetness, I promise. On the other hand, if you are not vegan, pure raw honey is in my opinion far more natural than any other processed stuff you can find even in health food stores. Only whith true unprocessed food you are getting the nutrients and the energy that you need, all the other stuff smells fishy to me...

    Just my two cents.

  • I forgot to mention the golden sweetner of them all: Dates, and date "juice". These give you more sweetness than any other thing could. Again, a whole food whith all the minerals and the good stuff in them. :0]

  • I agree, lawlizard. Whole food is the best food.

  • One thing David Wolfe also mentioned recently as well was that clear agave is the only kind of agave made without using the process of hydrolyzation, and that it's the only truly raw agave. However, Dave from Sunfire Foods claims it's actually pretty highly processed, since agave is naturally light golden to brown in color when taken from the plant (depending on soil conditions and climate). This make sense to me, since the fructose content in clear agave is around 90%. He didn't say it wasn't raw, so it might still be raw. :)

  • luluska, that sounds delicious!

  • Yeah i heard about this. i think there is one brand ive heard of that was ok. I heard agave syrup is supposed to be clear, if its not that means its been heated and its basically like high fructose corn syrup, so noooo thank you.

    I stopped using that months ago. I use raw honey now if i want to sweeten anything.

  • I've never actually tried agave outside of vegan bars - i use honey, even though i'm vegan in every other way.

    I love honey, not just the sweetness but the flavour.

    having said that, i tend to use apple juice or dates or raisons to sweeten things, and molasses when the flavour suits because of the iron content.

    i dont really like the flavour of non-fruit/honey sweeteners...

  • Raw green stevia or fruit juices work for me.

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