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Is Agave Safe For Diabetics

Is Agave Nectar Better For Diabetics Than Sugar? : Ask Dr. Gourmet

Is Agave Nectar Better For Diabetics Than Sugar? : Ask Dr. Gourmet

It's easy to get answers about health and nutrition! Just send your question by email to [email protected] and Dr. Harlan will respond to selected questions of general interest. Answers will be posted in the Ask Dr. Gourmet newsletter ( sign up now!) and archived in the Ask Dr. Gourmet section of the website. Please note that the Ask Dr. Gourmet feature is restricted to questions regarding food and nutrition. Due to the many questions we receive, not all questions may be answered. For more specific questions about your individual health, please contact your doctor. About Timothy S. Harlan, MD, FACP | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy Should diabetics use agave nectar as a sweetener? Can you shed any light on the benefits or misconceptions of agave nectar especially as it relates to Type II diabetics and the glycemic index? Is it just a bunch of hype or can agave nectar (when used properly) be a useful and safe dietary sweetener? I haven't used agave nectar in years. It was somewhat popular in the early eighties when I was involved in managing a chain of healthy fast food restaurants. I didn't use it much in cooking but we served it as an alternative sweetener. In the last few years it has been marketed heavily as an alternative to sugar. The reason for this is that it is very sweet but has a low Glycemic Index (GI). You can think of GI as a measure of how a particular food is processed by the body. In essence, it measures the rise in blood glucose of a 10 to 50 gram carbohydrate equivalent of a food as compared to the same number of carbohydrate gram equivalents of glucose. There's been some research about GI, especially in diabetics, that shows it may help with controlling blood sugar, but the science is imperfect. For instance, the GI of a Milky Way bar is 62 wh Continue reading >>

Agave And Diabetes: Another Nutrition Myth Busted!

Agave And Diabetes: Another Nutrition Myth Busted!

Agave is a plant native to regions with hot climates such as Mexico, the Southwestern U.S., and some areas of South America. Like the aloe vera plant, agave is a succulent, which holds a “sap” or “juice” in the center that can be extracted and eaten. We most often see agave products marketed as “agave nectar” or “agave syrup,” which is similar to honey, only it is sweeter and less viscous than honey. Twenty years ago, you would never have heard of baked goods being sweetened with agave nectar. But, as the movement for alternative sugars and organic foods has gained momentum, so has the demand for agave nectar. It has been hailed as a healthier option to regular table sugar or even natural honey, but is it really better for you? And more importantly, is it a good choice of sweetener if you have type 2 diabetes? Agave Nutrition Facts Agave is most often used as a sweetener in baking to replace white or brown sugar. Many recipes will substitute several tablespoons of sugar, to several cups of agave nectar in its place. One tablespoon of agave nectar contains 60 calories, 16 grams total carbs and 15 grams sugar. In terms of nutrition, as you can see, agave is mostly straight sugar with little else to offer. Also, keep in mind that while a serving size may be listed on the label as one or two tablespoons, many recipes will call for more than that. So if a recipe uses a quarter of a cup of agave, then you could potentially be consuming 64 grams of sugar and 240 calories from the syrup alone! How does agave compare to other sweeteners? The Glycemic Index (often termed GI) is a numeric indicator of how quickly sugars (glucose) from a food enter into your bloodstream. 100 is very high GI, 55 is considered low. But the lower the GI, the better. Agave’s claim to Continue reading >>

Agave Syrup And Diabetes: New Things To Know

Agave Syrup And Diabetes: New Things To Know

Agave enjoyed a huge boom around 2010, when everyone seemed to be shouting from the rooftops about what a great natural sweetener it was, especially ideal for people with diabetes. NOT. We looked into it, both then and more recently, and what we found was pretty interesting. Of course, a lot of people are down on the chemical content of those familiar little packets of artificial sweeteners -- Equal, Sweet N' Low and Splenda -- so they’re turning to plant-based alternatives, like agave and stevia. What is Agave Syrup/Nectar? Agave nectar is made from various types of agave plants, which are found in southern Mexico. The consistency and even the taste are comparable to honey. Interesting fact: If you ferment the blue agave plant, it actually turns into tequila (wow!). Otherwise, agave can be used to create a sweet syrup or "nectar" (the latter term certainly sounds more benign and natural!) Angela Ginn, a Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE) and National Spokesperson for The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, explains: “Agave is a nutritive sweetener that contains carbohydrate, vitamins and minerals such as iron, calcium, potassium and magnesium and calories. The difference in the color of various types is due to the filtration of salts and minerals in production.” For a long time, many health food advocates believed agave was a perfect solution for PWDs (people with diabetes) because it's made of up to 90% fructose rather than sucrose, so it's much lower on the glycemic index (GI) and thus doesn't pack the same immediate punch to blood glucose levels as table sugar. But that, as we learned, may be misleading. While it’s generally true that the lower a food’s GI score, the slower it raises blood sugar, it’s also well-documented that basing a food’s healthfuln Continue reading >>

Is Agave Nectar Safe For Diabetics

Is Agave Nectar Safe For Diabetics

For many people who suffer from diabetes or who simply want to lose weight, finding the right sugar substitute is important if they still want to satisfy their sweet tooth. One of the natural products on the shelves of grocery stores that provides such a substitute is agave nectar. This natural product is roughly 1 times as sweet as sugar and comes from the same plant that is used to create tequila. For many, agave nectar may seem like the perfect answer to their sugar cravings. However, the truth is that like any other sugar substitute it is best used in moderation and it does have its own complications when too much is consumed. The nectar comes from the agave plant that is found in many parts of the southwestern United States down to the northern parts of South America. It is the blue agave plant that provides most of the sweeteners that are used in a variety of products. However, unlike what it states there is no direct use of the raw nectar itself as it must be processed first before it can be used in different products. Youll find agave nectar as syrup that can be used in teas or on top of pancakes, energy bars and drinks along with many other products. Interestingly enough, agave nectar actually has more calories than sugar, but because it is so much sweeter substantially less is used. In theory the answer is yes because it is not sugar and does not cause a sugar spike in the blood when a moderate amount is used. However, there has not been a great deal of research on this subject so no one can say for sure if it is truly safer that many other sugar substitutes. So far, the recommendations have been to treat agave like any other sugar substitute that includes brown sugar, honey and the like. The danger from agave nectar is when too much is consumed since the bod Continue reading >>

Honey, Sugar, Molasses, Agave, Stevia & Other Natural Sweeteners: Which Are Actually Good For You?

Honey, Sugar, Molasses, Agave, Stevia & Other Natural Sweeteners: Which Are Actually Good For You?

Honey is a natural sweetener, but shouldn't be consumed by people with candidiasis or blood sugar problems. Read here about other natural, yet healthier alternatives - including a brand new one on the way soon! Everyone enjoys the sweet taste, but even most natural sweeteners feed candida (a systemic fungal infection), which destroys your immune system and creates uncontrollable cravings for more sugar. The good news is that healthy natural sweeteners do exist. In fact, for decades I've been researching sweeteners all over the world to uncover those that would be optimal for your health. Read on to learn more - including insights on the newest and most exciting sweetener on the market! Sugar - Is it Natural? Sugar is a simple carbohydrate made up of fructose, and glucose. These two simple sugars join to create sucrose. While sucrose is found naturally in plants and fruits, the refining process required to make granulated sugar (including cane, raw, or brown sugar) is what makes it bad for consumption. America's addiction to sugar has created an epidemic of health and immune problems including candida, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, adrenal fatigue, diabetes, and obesity. For more details on the dangers of eating sugar, read: The 25 Key Reasons to Dramatically Reduce or Avoid Sugar in Your Diet. Raw, Organic Honey People have been eating honey for thousands of years, and raw honey is believed to have a number of health benefits, particularly antimicrobial, wound healing qualities. Raw honey is one and a half times sweeter than sugar; however, it still feeds the systemic yeast infection, candida. It also raises blood sugar almost as much as table sugar1 For these reasons, honey is not included in stage one of the Body Ecology program. Once you are free of candida sympt Continue reading >>

5 Sugar Substitutes For Type 2 Diabetes

5 Sugar Substitutes For Type 2 Diabetes

1 / 6 A Small Amount of Real Sugar Is Best, but Sugar Substitutes Can Help If you think that people with diabetes should always avoid sugar, think again — they can enjoy the sweet stuff, in moderation. "The best bet is to use a very minimal amount of real sugar as part of a balanced diabetic diet," says Keri Glassman, MS, RD, CDN, of Nutritious Life, a nutrition practice based in New York City. That being said, sugar substitutes offer sweetness while controlling carbohydrate intake and blood glucose. There are many sugar substitutes to choose from, but they’re not all calorie-free and they vary in terms of their impact on blood sugar. "The major difference between the sugar substitutes is whether they are nutritive or non-nutritive sweeteners," says Melissa Mullins, MS, RD, a certified diabetes educator with Johnston Memorial Hospital in Abingdon, Va. "Non-nutritive sweeteners provide no calories and no changes in blood glucose levels, which is perfect for people with diabetes.” Here are six sweet options to consider. Continue reading >>

Agave: Why We Were Wrong

Agave: Why We Were Wrong

Over the past few months, I’ve become increasingly concerned about a sweetener that I’ve recommended on my show in the past. After careful consideration of the available research, today I’m asking you to eliminate agave from your kitchen and your diet. Here’s why. We used to think that because agave has a low-glycemic index and doesn’t spike your blood sugar like regular sugar does, it would be a good alternative for diabetics. But it turns out that although agave doesn’t contain a lot of glucose, it contains more fructose than any other common sweetener, including high-fructose corn syrup. Initially, we thought moderate amounts of fructose weren’t unhealthy, but now we know better. When you eat fructose-rich agave, your body does not release nearly as much insulin as it does when you eat regular sugar. This can affect how your body releases a hormone called leptin, which helps to control appetite. At the same time, experts believe that fructose is converted into fat more rapidly than glucose is. This can lead to several alarming consequences. The first is that people who eat a lot of agave are at risk for weight gain, especially belly fat. The second is that agave may actually increase insulin resistance for both diabetics and non-diabetics. In addition, fructose poses a danger to your cardiovascular system and could increase your risk for metabolic syndrome and heart disease. Unlike glucose, fructose can only be broken down in the liver. As it gets metabolized, uric acid and free radicals form, which can trigger inflammation and damage cells. Plus, one of the most dangerous final products of fructose metabolism is triglycerides, which can contribute to the fatty arterial plaques responsible for cardiovascular disease. High triglycerides are particularly Continue reading >>

Debunking The Blue Agave Myth

Debunking The Blue Agave Myth

Agave syrup (nectar) is basically high-fructose corn syrup masquerading as a health food. Sorry. Don’t kill the messenger. It’s easy to understand how agave syrup got its great reputation. Even the word “Agave” has a fine pedigree, coming from the Greek word for noble. The blue agave species- considered the best for the making agave nectar — flourishes in rich volcanic soil. (It’s also the only variety permitted to be used for the making of tequila.) And extracts from the agave plant have been shown to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Unfortunately there’s zero evidence that any of those compounds are present in the commercially made syrup. Agave nectar is an amber-colored liquid that pours more easily than honey and is considerably sweeter than sugar. The health-food crowd loves it because it is gluten-free and suitable for vegan diets, and, most especially, because it’s low-glycemic (we’ll get to that in a moment). Largely because of its very low glycemic impact, agave nectar is marketed as “diabetic friendly”. What’s not to like? As it turns out, quite a lot. Agave nectar has a low-glycemic index for one reason only: it’s largely made of fructose, which although it has a low-glycemic index, is probably the single most damaging form of sugar when used as a sweetener. With the exception of pure liquid fructose, agave nectar has the highest fructose content of any commercial sweetener. All sugar — from table sugar to HFCS (high-fructose corn syrup) to honey — contains some mixture of fructose and glucose. Table sugar is 50/50, HFCS is 55/45. Agave nectar is a whopping 90 percent fructose, almost — but not quite — twice as high as HFCS. Fructose — the sugar found naturally in fruit — is perfectly fine when you get i Continue reading >>

Food Fight: Agave Vs. Honey

Food Fight: Agave Vs. Honey

Food fight! Agave versus honey: which is the healthier choice? This is going to be our toughest food fight yet! Two natural sweeteners pitted against each other its a very difficult decision. Most agave nectar is produced from the blue agave plant grown in desert regions like the hilly areas in Mexico. The syrup is extracted from the honey water found at core of the plant, filtered, heated and then processed to make it into thicker nectar you see at the store. This makes agave a good sweetener for vegans (who dont eat honey). Agave nectar has a dark amber color, but has a more neutral flavor than honey. One tablespoon of the sweetener has about 60 calories compared to about 45 and 60 in the same amount of granulated sugar and honey, respectively. Its 1 times sweeter than sugar and so you can use less of it. Agave easily dissolves in cold liquids like smoothies and iced tea and can be used to replace granulated sugar in baked products (see instructions below). Many food manufacturers also use agave nectar in products like energy drinks and bars because of its light flavor and over-hyped nutritional benefits. To replace sugar with agave in your baked treats, do the following: Replace 1 cup of sugar with 2/3 cup of agave Reduce the oven temperature by 25 degrees F to prevent excessive browning Increase baking time by one minute for every 15 minutes of baking time Depending on how its processed, agave contains from 55% to 90% of a sugar called fructose which is also found in fruit. The remainder of the sugar ranging from 10% to 45% of sugar is from glucose. This is a similar to the amount of fructose in high-fructose corn syrup. The media has hyped up agave because of its low glycemic index (GI of 17) compared with regular sugar (GI of 68) or even honey (GI between 60-74 d Continue reading >>

Is Agave Syrup The Best Sweetener For Diabetes?

Is Agave Syrup The Best Sweetener For Diabetes?

Some natural health advocates suggest that people with diabetes can substitute agave syrup for table sugar and other traditional sweeteners. For those with a sweet tooth, the promise of a better sweetener might seem too good to be true. Unfortunately, that's exactly what it is. Agave is not a good alternative sweetener for people with diabetes. Is agave a good alternative sweetener? Agave is a group of succulent plants that grow in warm climates, particularly the southwestern United States and Mexico. Although it can be used as a sweetener, blue agave is high in carbohydrates, and produces nectar that is high in a type of sugar called fructose. Some people in the alternative health community have turned to agave as a potential alternative to table sugar and other sweeteners. Support for agave stems from it being a vegan sweetener as well as its glycemic index (GI). The higher a food's GI, the more it increases levels of glucose in the blood. Agave boasts a lower GI than most other sweeteners, which means that it is less likely to cause blood sugar spikes. GI, however, is not the only - or the best - way to assess whether a food is healthful for people with diabetes. A 2014 study suggests that low-GI foods may not improve how the body responds to insulin. For people already eating a healthful diet, the study also found that low-GI foods produced no improvements in cardiovascular health risk factors, such as levels of fats called triglycerides in the blood. Agave contains higher levels of fructose than table sugar and most other sweeteners. The body releases less insulin in response to fructose. This means that blood sugar may remain higher after eating agave than other sugars. A 2014 study of mice suggests that agave syrup might be a healthful alternative to table sugar. Continue reading >>

Diabetes Nutrition: Including Sweets In Your Meal Plan

Diabetes Nutrition: Including Sweets In Your Meal Plan

Diabetes nutrition focuses on healthy foods, but sweets aren't necessarily off-limits. Here's how to include sweets in your meal plan. Diabetes nutrition focuses on healthy foods. But you can eat sweets once in a while without feeling guilty or significantly interfering with your blood sugar control. The key to diabetes nutrition is moderation. The scoop on sugar For years, people with diabetes were warned to avoid sweets. But what researchers understand about diabetes nutrition has changed. Total carbohydrates are what counts. It was once assumed that honey, candy and other sweets would raise your blood sugar level faster and higher than would fruits, vegetables or "starchy" foods, such as potatoes, pasta or whole-grain bread. But this isn't true, as long as the sweets are eaten with a meal and balanced with other foods in your meal plan. Although different types of carbohydrates affect your blood sugar level differently, it's the total amount of carbohydrates that really matters. But don't overdo empty calories. Of course, it's still best to consider sweets as only a small part of your eating. Candy, cookies and other sweets have few vitamins and minerals and are often high in fat and calories. You'll get more empty calories — calories without essential nutrients — when you eat sweets. Have your cake and eat it, too Sweets count as carbohydrates in your meal plan. The trick is substituting small portions of sweets for other carbohydrates — such as bread, tortillas, rice, crackers, cereal, fruit, juice, milk, yogurt or potatoes — in your meals. To allow room for sweets as part of a meal, you have two options: Replace some of the carbohydrates in your meal with a sweet. Swap a high-carb-containing food in your meal for something with fewer carbohydrates and eat Continue reading >>

Is Agave Syrup A Safe Sweetener For A Type 2 Diabetic?

Is Agave Syrup A Safe Sweetener For A Type 2 Diabetic?

Agave is a popular sweetener because it is said to have a more ‘natural’ effect on the body. Problem is, the processing that turns agave nectar into agave syrup requires high heat, so the syrup is not the equivalent of the nectar and is more akin to corn syrup, maple syrup, cane syrup. Not safe for diabetics of any kind to use indiscriminately. It’s a syrup and it has a lot of carbs. Read the label. Can you use it? Yes, but in moderation and take all of your daily food choices into account when making the choice to use agave. Continue reading >>

How To Cut Down On Sugar

How To Cut Down On Sugar

We all eat way too much sugar – it contributes to obesity, tooth decay and is putting people at risk ofType 2 diabetes. The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) has advised that we need to drastically reduce the amount of sugar we eat. Here are some tips to help us slash the sugar in our diets. 'Free sugars' Sugar is found naturally in fruit, vegetables, milk and milk products – all important foods for ahealthy, balanced diet. What we do need to cut down on, though, is the ‘free sugars’ in food and drink – this includes any added or ‘hidden’ sugar as well as the ‘natural’ sugars in honey, syrups and fruit juices. Added sugar is the sugar we add to our food and drink. This includes the sugar we stir in our tea or the caster sugar we add to our baking. However, most of the sugar we eat is ‘hidden’ as food manufacturers have put it into a lot of the food and drinks we buy. It’s very easy to be unaware that the amount of sugar you’re consuming is reaching unhealthy levels because it comes in so many forms and in so many products. Sugar...by any other name Even if we don’t see the word 'sugar' listed in the ingredients, it’s often there, but under a different name. Look for any of the following words, which indicate that sugar has been added. glucose sucrose maltose honey molasses maple syrup glucose syrup hydrolysed starch corn syrup agave nectar coconut palm sugar treacle Although honey, agave nectar and maple syrup are marketed as healthier alternatives to sugar, they’re really just other forms of sugar. What's the limit? Our intake of ‘free sugars’ should not be more than 5 per cent of our daily energy intake. The maximum daily 'free sugar' intake for: children (aged 4 to 7) is 19g, equal to 5 cubes or 5 tsp of sugar child Continue reading >>

Does Agave Spike Blood Sugar?

Does Agave Spike Blood Sugar?

Agave nectar has grown in popularity as an alternative sweetener since the early 2000s. Fans of agave nectar prefer it to table sugar and other sweeteners because of its lighter flavor, natural source and less damaging physiological effects on blood sugar spikes. However, not all health experts are convinced of agave’s benefits, and MayoClinic.com advises that you should enjoy agave nectar, like all sweeteners, in moderation. Glycemic Index and Blood Sugar The glycemic index of a food refers to how the carbohydrates in the food affect blood sugar. Foods with a high glycemic index increase blood sugar more significantly and quickly than low- or medium-glycemic foods. Everyone should include more low-glycemic foods in their diet, but closely monitoring and balancing high- and low-glycemic foods is especially important for diabetics, whose day-to-day health and wellness heavily depends on regulating their blood sugar levels. Agave nectar has a lower glycemic index than table sugar and most other sweeteners, so spikes in blood sugar are not as drastic or harmful. Therefore, the American Diabetes Association lists it as a suitable option for diabetics. Nutrition and Composition Agave nectar contains roughly the same amount of calories as sugar -- about 15 to 17 calories per serving. However, it is three times sweeter than sugar, meaning you can use less to achieve the same degree of sweetness. Also like sugar, agave nectar contains zero grams of fat or protein. Depending on the processing method, some agave products can contain up to 90 percent fructose, which is much higher than sugar, honey and even high-fructose corn syrup. Its high fructose content contributes to its low glycemic index. Affects of High Fructose Content Research since the early 2000s has attempted to li Continue reading >>

Agave Sweetener And Diabetes

Agave Sweetener And Diabetes

If you have diabetes, sugar and sweeteners are something you generally need to avoid. Agave nectar is a bit different, though -- it is low on the glycemic index and doesn’t have as much of an effect on your blood sugar as other sweeteners. Use measuring spoons to determine your portion. You still don’t want to have too many extra calories. Video of the Day How the GI Works The glycemic index, known as the GI, rates foods depending on how they affect your blood sugar levels. Typically, only carbohydrate-containing foods have a GI score, since carbs convert into sugar and directly affect glucose in your blood. High-glycemic foods have a rating of over 70. These foods are likely to make your blood sugar go up fast and then drop it right back down. Medium-GI foods have a score of 55 to 70 and have less of an effect on blood sugar. Foods with a rank under 55 have the least effect on blood sugar, causing it to rise gradually and then slowly bringing it down over time. Effects of Agave Agave nectar is one of the lowest glycemic sweeteners you’ll find. Depending on the variety, agave nectar has a glycemic index of 10 to 19. Because of its low rating, agave alone probably won’t spike your blood sugar. Other components of your food or beverage could have negative impacts, however. The glycemic index rates individual foods, rather than combining foods. So if you stir agave nectar into your morning cup of tea, then have some white toast with jam for breakfast, your blood sugar could still surge because white bread and jam have higher GI ratings. Plain white table sugar, known as sucrose, is much higher on the GI than agave. On average, white sugar scores at 65, although depending on the origin of the sugar, some varieties rate as high as 84. Honey is generally low to modera Continue reading >>

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