What is Agave?
Agave is a plant found in Mexico & southwestern United States. Agaves are succulents with a large rosette of thick, fleshy leaves. Agave plant is found in a number of species and they are used in food industry according to their wide applications. Agaves are large, spikey plants that resemble cactus in the form of habitat and appearance, but they are actually succulents (juicy), much similar to Aloe Vera plant.
Synonyms: Agave Syrup, Agave, Raw Agave
Agave is a clear liquid with mild taste.
Agave tequilana, agave azul or blue agave, is used in the production of tequila (by fermentation of sugar present in the plant), a popular distilled beverage.
Agave nectar, also called agave syrup, a sweetener derived from Agave sap, is used as an alternative to sugar in cooking, and can be added to breakfast cereals as a binding agent. Agave nectar consists of 56% fructose and 20% glucose.Agave nectar is about 1 1/2 times sweeter than regular sugar.
History & Origin of Agave Ingredient:
Agave nectar has been used from centuries as flavouring agents, without knowing its clinical benefits. Agave nectar and salt has been used as a dressing for wounds and as a balm for skin infections. Nectar is effective against pyrogenic and intestinal bacteria. Various researches have shown that addition of salt to nectar boost its anti-microbial activity.
Origin & production:
Origin of Agave is all from natural source and is produced in the manner below:
- Leaves from the plant of 7-10 years old are taken and cut off, revealing the core of plant which is called pina.
- Raw sap is extracted from the pina, which is then filtered and heated at low temperature (Heating breaks down the carbohydrates into sugars).
- Nectar is prepared in two varieties: lighter & darker, which depend on the heating time.
- In this manner, nectar is prepared and is regarded as a raw food by some food enthusiasts.
Function of Agave in Food Products and Effects on Health:
Use and Advantages of Agave
- Agave syrup is 1.4 to 1.6 times sweeter than sugar.
- Substituted for honey or sugar in recipe.
- It is added to some breakfast cereals as a binding agent.
- It has anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and anti-bacterial activity.
- Used for strong flavours.
- Used to impart flavour to some desserts, poultry, and meat and sea food dishes.
- Wound healing capacity.
Disadvantages of Agave:
- Some species of agave plants contain natural steroids which can possibly have negative health effects for pregnant women.
- Agave is not healthier than honey, sugar, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), or any other type of sweetener.
- Agave nectar contains more fructose and dangerous to consume as the time of consuming extra sugar WBC’s activity to ward of disease is dampened for several hours.
Side effects after taking high doses of Agave nectar:
- Agave nectar have high glycemic index and glycemic load which measures the relative impact that foods have on our blood sugar. It releases the blood sugar quickly and triggers the release of insulin, which causes health disorders.
- Heating of pina destroys the health benefits of plant and produce highly refined unhealthy syrup.
- Raising the risk of Type 2 Diabeties.
- Weight gain
- High triglycerides & cholesterol levels
- High blood pressure.