Friday, October 5, 2012

a Sweet and Dirty Little Secret -- Agave

Agave is purported to be a wondrous new discovery out there that will allow humans to consume it with no harm at all to our bodies.  It is a product that has been used by natives of the Central Americas for centuries.  It has low glycemic index, is all natural, and GOOD for you.  Wow, nothing could be further from the truth.  Agave syrup is actually made in the same manner as High Fructose Corn Syrup.  It does not use the juice from the Agave, in fact they utilize the starchy core, just like they do when  making tequila.  They utilize the same caustic chemicals and enzyme reactions to change the starches to fructose and then with clarifying chemicals, sedimentation filtration they come up with a product that is so similar to High Fructose Corn Syrup as to be nearly indistinguishable. Well, with one exception; there are two kinds of Agave poison, light, or clear, and dark.  The dark stuff comes from the poor quality control in Mexican factories and if the syrup is heated to a temperature higher than supposed to, it burns and rather than throw it out, they label it as a different quality.  Of which I suppose it really is.

Anyway, don't let the producers hype influence you in any way.  This stuff is just like HFCS in just about every possible way.  And the worst thing is that most of it is made in Mexico under poorly controlled conditions.  This is not what I want to put into my system.  Sorry, but there are ice cream makers out there putting this stuff in their ice cream and proclaiming it to be healthier alternative to regular ice cream.  Sorry, regular sugar is better.

The next problem is the saponin content of the product.  Saponins are soap like compounds that exist naturally in Yucca and Agave species.  Many of the Agave species have saponins that are toxic steroidal derivatives and can cause problems when taken internally with the uptake of oxygen into the red blood cells, diarrhea, vomiting and a few other more unpleasant side effects.  The problem of course is that in the drive to make ever more Agave Syrup, processors in Mexico are harvesting virtually any species that has a starchy base so that they can convert it to the syrup.

So, not that I believe that sugar is a great thing to eat a lot of, but if you need to have something sweet, honey, stevia, maple and last, sugar, are your best bets. 

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