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Agave Nectar, the high frutose health food fraud

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



  • Wow, this is cause for concern. I've read negative information about agave for several months now, and I use very little of it now - only as an ingredient in an occasional raw treat. It seems best to always stick to whole, raw foods with minimal processing of any sort. I try to limit my consumption of anything packaged - including raw nut butters, tahini, nama shoyu, cold-pressed oils, etc., etc. A simple diet is best, I guess!

  • JDJD

    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.

  • ambiguousambiguous Raw Newbie

    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.

  • rawcanadianrawcanadian Raw Newbie

    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.


  • Raw_OrleansRaw_Orleans Raw Newbie

    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.)



  • ZemphiraZemphira Raw Newbie

    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

  • vegan2rawvegan2raw Raw Newbie

    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

  • 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

  • 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.



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

  • freewitheftfreewitheft Raw Newbie

    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

  • achin70achin70 Raw Newbie

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


    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.



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

  • achin70achin70 Raw Newbie

    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.



  • 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.

  • rawlizardrawlizard Raw Newbie

    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.

  • rawlizardrawlizard Raw Newbie

    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.

  • achin70achin70 Raw Newbie

    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. :)

  • rawlizardrawlizard Raw Newbie

    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...

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