Unlike fructose sweeteners that are produced chemically, Agave nectar contains no sulfur dioxide, hydrochloric acid or other harmful toxins. Agave nectar is sweet in its natural form, unlike the crystalline form of fructose, which is refined primarily from corn. The main carbohydrate in Agave is a complex form of fructose called inulin or fructosan. Inulin has a minimal impact on
At the Block Center, we look at a food’s glycemic index (GI) when making a recommendation to our patients. The "glycemic index" measures the effect of the food on blood-glucose levels. The lower the number, the better, because this means the food is absorbed and digested more slowly by the body. A food with a high GI number would cause blood-glucose levels to rise quickly and therefore the body creates insulin to drop blood-glucose levels. This fluctuation places a lot of stress on the body and can lead to health problems, so foods with a low GI are much more desirable.
White sugar has a GI of 95. Anything above 60 is considered high. Even honey has a GI of 77. However, agave nectar has a GI of 32. Thus, it is best to use agave (as well as other natural sweeteners) in limited amounts.
Another alternative to sugar is stevia. Stevia is the name of a genus containing 240 plant species. Common names for plants in this genus are "sweetleaf" and "sugarleaf." Stevia contains no calories, is known to be 140-300 times sweeter than sugar, and has little to no effect on blood-glucose levels. One of the intensely sweet compounds in the stevia plant, rebaudioside A, has been extracted from Stevia leaves by the food manufacturing companies, and is now sold in packets at the grocery store. However, consumers have for years been using stevia leaf extract sold in health food stores in small packets resembling sweetener packets. Extensive testing has shown that the sweet compounds in stevia are safe for human consumption