Is Agave Paleo?
Table of Contents
The Quick Answer
No, agave syrup/nectar is not paleo.
Why Isn’t Agave Paleo?
Agave is not paleo ( this includes both the syrup & nectar) is because it’s a processed food. To make agave nectar, you have to use a lot of modern cooking tools. It also has few nutrients to offer and contains a high amount of sugar, which is harmful when consumed in large enough amounts.
Agave nectar or agave syrup is made from the agave plant, but it needs to be heated and chemically altered in order to become the sweet, thin, syrup that is bottled and sold in stores. Neither the extreme temperatures nor the added enzymes required in this process were available in Paleolithic times, so it is not considered a natural paleo food.
Agave has a somewhat high fructose level when compared to its glucose and sucrose levels. This is why the food is promoted as having a low glycemic index score. However this doesn’t make agave healthy. It just means it’s metabolized by the liver differently than some other sweeteners are. Although it does have a lower score on the glycemic index and a higher inulin level than regular white cane sugar or even some other natural paleo-approved sweeteners, it is still a processed and unhealthy food.
Good substitutes to agave nectar and syrup are raw honey, good quality maple syrup, organic stevia, molasses, and a few lesser known natural sweeteners like chicory root and inulin fiber. These sweeteners are paleo because they occur in nature, don’t require any filtration or processing, and do have some trace minerals to offer.
Is There Any Confusion When It Comes To Agave Being Paleo?
Yes, some people do think agave should be considered paleo. Some paleo followers point to the fact that agave is higher in fructose than many other sweeteners (which are higher in sucrose), like regular cane sugar. In some people’s minds, this makes agave healthier. Agave nectar has a lower GI score than some other sweeteners and it comes from a plant, which is good, but, overall, agave nectar still isn’t paleo.
One thing to point out is that the agave plant can also produce another sweetener called aguamiel. Aguamiel is made by people living in South America and it requires less processing and many consider it to be paleo. Aguamiel is made using the same sweet liquid that comes from the agave plant, but this liquid is only boiled down to reduce its water content and to intensify the flavor. The end result is a syrup that isn’t as sweet as agave nectar, but which is more natural.
So, Is Agave Paleo?
No, agave syrup and agave nectar are not paleo because they are very processed foods, they are high in sugar, which can cause health problems, including insulin resistance, diabetes, mood swings, and cravings, and they don’t provide many nutrients.
How To Know What Is And Isn’t Paleo
Check out Paleo.io, the mobile app that answers the question, “is __ paleo?” So no matter which food you’re confused about, you’ll always be able to find out whether or not it’s paleo because Paleo.io comes with the most comprehensive paleo diet food list out there.
How To Give Up Sugar
If you’re concerned about the amount of sugar that you consume, check out The 21-Day Sugar Detox. For more information and a behind the scenes look at the program, read our review of The 21-Day Sugar Detox.
Photo credit: Michelle Schrank
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