Does Agave Syrup Make You Sick?

January 21, 2024

Agave Syrup -Does It Make You Sick?

It was on the ingredient label at slot #4 on the "Organic Granola" bag. Agave syrup. It came before the "organic cane sugar" but it was just after the "gluten-free oats" and tree nuts.  You have heard of gluten in oats also, haven't you? So ingredients three and four were agave syrup and cane sugar. Cane sugar I can easily blow off. It's table sugar. Derived from sugar cane instead of sugar beets. Same thing. The Papua-New Guineans found those sweet canes in around 4000 BC. From there the Austronesians took it up to Taiwan where it spread up to China. When the Indians got hold of it around 0 AD, they finally concentrated it by boiling it down and clarifying it. Table sugar was born, as were camel caravans to Venice. Our 21st century diet in America is now at least 13% sugar. At least that's down from the 18% peak we hit in the last 90s.

What about Agave? Well, it's the FDA at fault. It requires food companies to label the ingredients in their food in the order of their abundance. If you have more oats than anything else, you get to say "oats" first. If that's what you are selling, that's good. If sugar comes second, you have a problem. Picky consumers won't buy your product. You have to diversify. Several forms of sugar can be added together so that each falls lower on the frequency table.  As you can tell this is obviously a head-fake.  The actual, molecule sum is high but because the various forms of sugar are from different sources and have not been refined to pure sugar, they can be labeled by their "indigenous labels". 

What is Agave syrup? It's the syrup off the cactus plant, grown mostly in Mexico. It's sugar.  

It is a cactus that has to grow for 7 years before its leaves are cut off and squeezed to get the juice out. The main ingredient of that juice is called fructan, which is a long chain of fructose molecules. Take that squeezed product, digest it down to the fructose sugar, and sell that as your "organic sweetener". It's fructose. Now it's not all fructose. It is typically about 60% fructose, 20% glucose, a trace of sucrose, and a variety of other small chains of fructose. But no kidding, it is mostly just fructose. This is on the same order as High Fructose Corn Syrup. It is 40-60% sweeter than table sugar so food manufacturers like to use it.  And they can get away with another name.

What does your body say? There is abundant literature about fructose and its nearly instant effect on your liver. We have no enzyme to filter fructose out, like we do for glucose. It rushes into your blood and then the liver in minutes. It demands an ATP molecule on entry into the liver cell which results in uric acid increasing within an hour after ingesting. This puts fructose front and center as a causative agent for diabetes. Bummer.

Don't get sucked in by "organic", "gentle, natural sweetener", or "not overly sweet". It's fructose and fructose is a metabolic poison. Curiously, fruits have it in the 6% content range. With all the fiber in fruit, that appears to be tolerable.

If you have nothing better to do on this dreary winter day, consider Googling 50 Names for Sugar. Look up Panela (unrefined cane sugar) or Rapadura sugars (South American and Asian unrefined, brown sugar). Get used to those names and stop being hoodwinked.  In particular, if you see more than one name for sugar, higher than 3rd or 4th, just don't buy that product.  

www.What will Work for me. I'm so discouraged. Anything I like has sugar in it that goes by a different name. I'm currently switching to Monk Fruit and found a couple of good vendors. The NOW foods, 8 oz bottle has twelve hundred doses of 5 drops. I'm determined to cut down to four and get used to that, then three.

References: Int Jr Environmental Research, Wikipedia, Agave Wikipedia, Diabetes, Healthline, Nutrients,

Pop Quiz

1. What is agave syrup?                                      Answer: Effectively another name for fructose. Once purified without its fiber, fructose is a metabolic poison.

2. Why is fructose so bad for me?                                    Answer:  It raises uric acid and sets off metabolic syndrome all by itself. Just watch the movie, "Super Size Me" (3 meals a day at MacDonald's for a month, with all the sugared drinks in Super Size).


3. Is there anything special about agave?                         Answer. No, other than the romantic idea of being from an exotic place, the Mexican desert.

4. Why do food companies use it?                             Answer: They are playing the truth in labeling game. They want any mention of sugar that you recognize to be as low in the sequence as they can get. If they take a product that is 51% sugar, they would have to list sugar first. If they get cane juice (sugar), agave (fructose), honey, and HFCS, they can list each of them at much lower totals and come third and fourth on the list.

5. What percent of my diet is sugar?                            Answer: Hmm. On average about 13% but some folks are up around 25%. American Heart says to get it down to 1 ounce a day.