Monday, February 25, 2008

Nectar of the Gods?

Continuing the discussion of sugars and Glycemic Index, I've recently been looking at agave nectar as a sweetener. Apparently I'm a little slow in finding this sweetener. I first became aware of it last summer I came across this article Making Your Own Power Gels For Less. At the time I didn't realize the significance because I wasn't in the market for an all-around sweetener.

Lately I decided to make my own gels again with all of my new knowledge of Glycemic Index and insulin response. My theory is that a gel should contain a hi GI component and a low GI component, that follows the recipe of most major manufacturers, and by varying the hi GI ingredient I can control when the sugar hits the bloodstream. I'll post more results on this experiment as I get results.

So I pulled out the article above again and noticed agave nectar and started reading that it affects blood sugar so minimally that it is considered safe for diabetics and can be used by low-carbers. But what does it mean for a sweetener to be low GI? Doesn't that really mean less evil than, say, table sugar? Well, not really. Let's look at some numbers:

Maltodextrin: 105
Glucose: 100
Plain bagel: 72
Honey: 62
Banana: 56
Oatmeal: 48
Yogurt (fruit): 36
Agave Nectar: 27
Yogurt (plain): 14

Strangely enough I happened to be at the grocery store recently (something I try to avoid at all costs) and happened to notice they carry an organic agave nectar! I figured WTF. I'm going to make gels with it, and it has such a minimal impact on blood sugar maybe I should use it as a sweetener and dump the artificial stuff.

My first reaction is that agave nectar has a very sweet taste, sweeter than honey. It is also much thinner than honey and pours very readily. So far I've only used it in my coffee and it seems to taste very similar to sugar. As I use it more I will report more experience.


Anonymous said...

Have you tried Stevia? Its a plant extract and has little impact on blood sugar, while still having a very sweet taste. 5 drops is the reg dose but I use 6.

Mike Busch said...

I haven't tried Stevia - I was always afraid of an aftertaste. I'm more willing to try it now that I see agave nectar is so good.

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