What Is Agave Nectar?

Agave nectar

Definition: Agave nectar is sometimes called agave syrup or agave sweetener. Agave nectar has a taste and appearance similar to honey, making it a popular natural, raw vegan and organic substitute for strict vegans and others who avoid honey. There are two kinds of agave nectar: dark agave nectar and light. Though the two can be used interchangeably, dark agave nectar has a stronger taste.

Agave Nectar Nutritional information:

Agave nectar is kosher, and nearly always organic and raw, and has a relatively low Glycemic Index (GI), particularly when compared to other sweeteners.

Depending on the brand, the Glycemic Index of agave nectar is around 20-30, whereas honey is in the 35-65 GI range and regular sugar has a GI of 60-65. See also: Certified organic and raw agave nectar

According to CalorieCount, a one tablespoon-sized serving of agave nectar contains 60 calories, no fat, 16 grams of carbohydrates, 15 grams of sugar and one gram of dietary fiber. Agave nectar is fat free, and contains no protein and no fat.

Note that several different kinds of agave nectar can be found, including "light", "dark" and "amber", as well as regular agave nectar and bottles marketed as "raw", so if the nutritional value is a concern, best to read the nutritional information on the label on the specific bottle you purchase. 

Cooking with Agave Nectar:

Agave nectar can be substituted for honey or maple syrup in just about any recipe. Try adding agave to your tea instead of honey, or drizzling it over pancakes or waffles instead of maple syrup.

Sweeten lemonade with agave instead of sugar. To use agave nectar to replace honey in any recipe, you can use the same amount of agave as you would honey. It is much sweeter than honey, however, so if you're using it in a tea or smoothie, you may want to use a bit less. 

Why use agave nectar? Is it better than sugar?

Fans of agave nectar claim that because it is minimally processed and has a low glycemic index, agave is better for you than alternative sweeteners, and, because it's sweeter than honey, you use less of it.

Proponents of a raw vegan diet often include agave nectar while excluded other refined sweeteners, and most strict vegans will avoid honey, and some avoid refined sugar as well. 

Opponents claim that agave nectar is higher in fructose than regular sugar, making it actually worse for you than even plain sugar. 

Considering that the standard American diet is shockingly high in added sugars and refined foods, I personally think those who oppose agave nectar would be better off worrying about the high fructose corn syrup which shows up in nearly everything from salad dressings to bread, rather than worrying about the fructose in agave nectar.

The bottom line? While no one will argue that sugar is good for you, agave nectar is an unrefined sweetener which has some advantages over regular sugar, though consuming too much should be avoided.

Recipes using agave nectar:

See also: Shop for agave nectar online

Also Known As: Agave syrup, agave sweetener