Father Andrew's Hot Body Gym

October 14, 2009

Introducing Agave, Primal Ambrosia

Filed under: diet — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — Mara @ 6:02 pm

NOTE: I have revised my stance on agave since writing this post. For a more up to date look at agave and its effects on your body, please see this post and especially my comment at the bottom. In a nut shell, while the insulin response is low, there are other problems with agave that may make it worse than sugar.
Sweet tooths rejoice!
Liquid Gold

Liquid Gold

While perusing the Vivaldi-graced aisles of Fresh Market, I happened upon a sparking bottle filled with honey-colored liquid. This organic Agave nectar claimed a low glycemic response, and since I had seen it in recipes on MDA and such (and since it only cost about $7 for a hefty amount), I decided to drop it in my basket. After a bit of internet research and a taste test (a teaspoon added to my plain greek yogurt with walnuts and dried cherries – delicious!), I have concluded that this is God’s gift to zone/primal sweet tooths.

For those adhering to a zone-ish (equal proportions of macro nutrients in each meal) or primal-esqe (eating like a caveman) diet, the necessary restrictions on sugar in all its magnificent forms can be quite a sacrifice. Not only do we have to often forgo the cookies, pies, ice cream, etc., we also have to take other foods in much less sweetened forms than we did previously. Yogurt is a good example. Plain yogurt straight up is not for the faint of heart. But the sweetened kinds have a ton of sugar, or worse, artificial sweeteners, that fly in the face of our dietary wisdom. We can make our own desserts, but dessert isn’t dessert if it’s not at least semi-sweet. So what to do?

Stevia has been the only safe option. It remains the only approved (meaning non-carcinogenic) calorie- and carb-free option, but its bitter aftertaste makes using it in any substantial quantity rather unsavory. I have had success using a bit of stevia mixed with regular sugar or honey, but I still end up with a fairly high-sugar result.

Enter Agave Nectar. Slightly less thick than honey, making it easier to work with, 25% sweeter than sugar, and without any kind of aftertaste, it is like honey without the guilt, so better. Now, it is not stevia; one tablespoon has 16 grams of sugar. But its insulin response is very different. According to the zone master, Dr. Barry Sears, because agave is 90% fructose, it has relatively a low glucose content, which gives it a low rating on the glycemic index.  On a scale that uses white bread as the standard with a rating of 100, agave nectar has a rating of 46, while honey comes in at 104 and white sugar comes in at 92. You also need to use less of it than either honey or sugar to get the same level of sweetness.

Yes please!

I will now be incorporating agave nectar into my recipes, for shizzle. 3/4 cup of agave can replace 1 cup of granulated sugar, though you want to reduce the other liquids in your recipe if texture matters. I’ll probably try to throw in a dab of stevia as well, to reduce the agave a bit further, but agave will now be my main standby.

Sweet ambrosia, agave, how I adore thee!



  1. Great news re. agave, and deliciously written!

    Comment by Joan — October 15, 2009 @ 10:05 am

  2. […] you’re into making your own, try using Agave and/or Stevia instead of sugar. I used a ratio of 1 Tbl Agave and 1/8 tsp stevia powder for a tasty […]

    Pingback by ‘Tis the Season to Cheat – Part I « Father Andrew's Hot Body Gym — November 29, 2009 @ 12:47 pm

  3. […] } Back in October Mara wrote this post on using agave as an alternate sweetener to sugar. Since then we have all been gung ho about the […]

    Pingback by Agave – The Great Debate « Father Andrew's Hot Body Gym — February 11, 2010 @ 10:06 pm

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