Agave Nectar is a popular sugar substitute but many people keep on asking whether it is really healthy or any better than regular table sugar. This all-natural sweetener is extracted from blue agave plants which flourish in the volcanic soils of southern Mexico as well as parts of South Africa.
What is Agave Nectar?
Agave nectar is pronounced ”ah-GAH-vay” and it is used as a table sugar alternative similar to how many of us use maple syrup or honey instead of sugar. “Agave syrup” as it is commonly referred to is commercially produced by the agave species which include Agave salmiana and Agave tequilana.
Why is Agave Nectar Popular?
Agave has been less refined compared to various sweeteners. Thus, it is considered as more natural. Its high fructose to glucose ratio is approximately 70 percent up to 90 percent. This makes a lower-glycemic sweetener thus, a potentially a healthy sweetener thus giving rise to its popularity.
Is Agave Nectar Healthy?
Agave nectar is 1 and a half times sweeter compared to table sugar so when consuming it one would naturally consume less than the sugar equivalent. When you have been accustomed to sweet flavor profiles such as agave nectar and you switch back to using table sugar, the chance is that you will be encouraged to use more than you previously used.
How to Use Agave Nectar?
The use of agave nectar has been ideal for sweetening different hot beverages such coffee and tea including cold drinks like lemonade and iced tea. This is because it easily dissolves well. Most of the time, this has been the direct alternative for maple syrup found on waffles or pancakes. Sometimes, this is the alternative for honey when baking. You only have to be extra cautious in using this sweetener when it comes to baking for it may alter the dish texture.
In cooking, agave nectar has been popularly used as the vegan honey alternative for those individuals who prefer excluding animal-related products in their diets. It dissolves quickly and is often added to breakfast cereals to serve as the binding agent.
Agave Nectar Varieties
Agave is sold in amber, raw, dark and light varieties. Amber agave has a flavor of medium-intensity caramel, thus, it is used in drinks and dishes with strong flavors. Light agave is almost neutral and mild flavor making it ideal for delicate-tasting beverages and dishes. The dark agave has strong caramel note that is why it is used in dishes like other poultry, seafood, meat dishes and desserts. Raw agave has a neutral and mild taste.
Substituting Sweeteners with Agave Nectar
- Honey – Substitute 1 for 1, like replace a cup of honey with a cup of agave syrup.
- Maple Syrup – Substitute 1 for 1, like replace a cup of maple syrup with a cup of agave syrup.
- Brown Rice Syrup – When you replace a cup of brown rice syrup, use1/2 to 1/3 as much agave, and increase other liquids in the recipe by up to 1/2 a cup.
- Corn Syrup – When you replace a cup of light corn syrup, be sure to use1/2 as much agave, and increase other liquids in the recipe by up to 1/3 of a cup. Like corn syrup, agave nectar will not crystallize.
- White Granulated Sugar – For each cup of white sugar that you are replacing, use 2/3 of a cup of agave and reduce other liquids by 1/4 to 1/3 cup. This substitution will also work for Demerara Sugar, Turbinado Sugar, Evaporated Cane Juice, or Sucanat.
- Brown Sugar – For each cup of brown sugar replaced, use 2/3 of a cup of agave and reduce other liquids by 1/4 cup. Because the moisture content of Brown Sugar is higher than that of white sugar, liquids may not have to be reduced as much when substituting agave nectar.
- Agave may cause your food that you are cooking to brown more easily, so reduce the temperature by about 25 degrees Fahrenheit and cook slightly longer.