Agave syrup or agave nectar is made from the juice of the agave plant, a succulent found in desert regions, particularly in Mexico. It is gaining popularity among the people who prefer to consume and cook with minimally processed foods or foods that are high in nutrients. Since it is rich in vitamins B, D, C, and E, as well as calcium, potassium, zinc, magnesium, chromium, and selenium, it boasts a wide range of medical uses as well. For example, it has been used as an anti-inflammatory, a digestive aide, and as a blood purifier. There are several varieties — the varieties that are darker in color typically have the most natural nutrients and tend to be the most flavorful.
Agave syrup can be purchased in raw, dark, amber, and light varieties. Raw syrup is mild in taste and retains most of its naturally occurring enzymes. Dark syrup has a rich caramel flavor and can be used as a topping to certain foods, such as pancakes. The amber variety is less flavorful than the dark varieties, but is a great sweetener for many baked goods and other dishes where the cook wishes to impart a distinct agave flavor. Light agave syrup is the mildest variety and is ideal for drinks or recipes where the darker varieties might be overpowering.
People suffering from diabetes are often concerned over the glycemic index of the foods they consume. The glycemic index is a numerical value that quantifies how the body responds to the glucose in the foods. Agave syrup has a low glycemic index number of 27. To put this in perspective, many doctors claim that foods with a glycemic index value under 55 are safe for people with diabetes; in comparison, honey has a glycemic index value of 83, watermelon’s is 103, and most vegetables are under 20 on the glycemic index.
Agave syrup looks like honey, but it is usually lighter and has a cleaner taste. It is nearly twice as sweet as white table sugar. Many chefs recommend substituting 3/4 cup (6 ounces) of agave syrup for every one cup (8 ounces) of white table sugar. It does not freeze up in cold drinks in the same manner that honey does, making it a better option than honey for many recipes. In fact, it actually dissolves rather quickly in cold food items. As a result, it tends to work well in most smoothies and cocktail drinks.
It can be used to sweeten drinks and a large variety of recipes. Many natural cookbooks and websites use agave syrup instead of sugar. As it grows in popularity, many people expect it to become as mainstream as honey and table sugar. Some parts of the plant are considered to be toxic, so it is important to consume agave syrup for a reputable source.