For those of you that haven’t heard of agave, agave syrup (also known as agave nectar) is known to be sweeter than both sugar and honey making it a common substitute to sweeten recipes. While this product of the Tropical Americas and South Africa may seem hip and new to you, it’s been part of traditional Mexican and Latin American diets for years. You can read about DiabetesMine’s take on Agave, too!
Agave and Diabetes
To control blood sugar levels, a diabetic must use a combination of diet, medication, and exercise. The Glycemic Index (GI) has played a huge role in helping people with diabetes choose foods wisely as it indicates how a food will affect their glucose levels. Unless you’re trying to raise your blood sugar purposely, a diabetic would generally avoid foods with a high GI as it will raise glucose levels significantly.
Because of their low GI properties, agave syrup products have become very popular among diabetics lowering their blood sugar levels. While ideally this would be a great tactic for choosing diabetic-friendly substitutes for sugar and honey, natural foods are still significantly unregulated in the US. Depending on manufacturer and manufacturing processes, some brands of syrup could potentially have higher GIs than others, making it an especially risky choice for diabetics trying to keep their glucose levels low. Because of this and other findings, both the FDA and the Glycemic Research Institute have expressed their concerns about agave syrup being labeled as diabetic-safe.
So Should I Cross Agave off of my Grocery List?
Not necessarily. I believe that agave nectar can be consumed as long you keep the following in mind:
- Read all product labels carefully
- Enjoy like other sweeteners, in moderation
- Choose brands that are minimally refined
- Choose brands that have the lowest GI possible
- Before making any drastic changes to your diet, be sure to consult your nutritionist or doctor. I cannot stress this enough! While the internet can be a valuable resource for information, it is no substitute to consulting a professional.
For other information, tips, and articles on managing your diabetes, I encourage you to check out my website at DiabeticSeniors.com.
“What Is the Glycemic Index?” All About Agave. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Aug. 2012. <http://www.allaboutagave.com/agave-nectar-and-the-glycemic-index.php>.
Zelman, Kathleen M., MPH, RD, LD. “The Truth About Agave.” WebMD. WebMD, 2010. Web. 17 Aug. 2012. <http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/the-truth-about-agave>.
Rob lives with Type 2 diabetes. He is the father of two beautiful girls and the content curator at DiabeticSeniors.com.