Tuesday, February 23, 2010


A coupla weeks ago I did a post on Aspartame. Here's an article in the EssEffChron on sugar and artificial sweeteners that may answer some questions if you have any.

One of our readers brought up agave syrup, which I hadn't heard of.

The sweetener that comes from a Mexican plant - the same one used to produce Tequila - is making quite a stir. Agave syrup or nectar is being used to sweeten teas, energy drinks, protein bars and pastries.

Its calorie and carbohydrate content is similar to that of sugar, but because it's about three times sweeter, you can use less. Unlike sucrose, agave can be up to 90 percent fructose, depending on how it's processed. The higher it is in fructose, the less likely it is to raise blood glucose levels, which is helpful to diabetics.

Oddly, scientists believe that fructose has the lowest glycemic index, a ranking system for carbohydrate foods based on their effects on blood glucose levels, of all sugars. This seems somewhat contradictory given that fructose is so often linked to obesity.

Although agave may seem like a safer choice for diabetics, experts warn to use it with caution. There is not enough scientific evidence yet to recommend it as a dietetic substitute.

While agave is seen by many consumers as a healthful alternative to sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup, experts say don't let it fool you - it's sugar, plain and simple.

Its flavor benefits are that it sweetens without changing the flavor of other ingredients. And while it doesn't work with everything, agave is a fine substitute for sweetening tea, cereal and yogurts. Its best use that we know of: replacing the simple syrup in a margarita.

Sounds OK to me. They sell it at Costco and it's on our shopping list.

I don't usually do recipes, but as long as we're on sweet food, here's one for a Guadalajaran enchilada dish that's got my mouth watering! Enjoy.

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