Agave Nectar - A Natural Sweetener

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Agave nectar is a natural sweetener that is produced from several different species of agave plants that are grown commercially in the deserts of Mexico.
The plants take between 8 to 10 years to grow until they are ready for harvesting, and once fully matured, they can only be used once.
The sap is collected and heated at very low temperatures so that the sugars can break down into fructose.
But due to the low temperatures, the enzymes are kept alive, and thus agave nectar is considered to be a natural sweetener.
Agave nectar has a long shelf life up to 12 months, and it will not crystallize in the bottle the way that honey does.
The Taste The nectar has about the same amount of calories as sugar, but it takes less of it to sweeten, as it is up to 3 times sweeter than regular table sugar.
The taste is different than sugar, and is somewhere between the tastes of honey and molasses.
However, it does not have an aftertaste, and thus is easy to get used to.
Agave nectar is available in different colors ranging from dark to light colors of brown, and the darker colors offer a stronger flavor.
The nectar is also available in different flavors such as hazelnut, cappuccino, Irish cream, vanilla, walnut and strawberry mango.
Healthy Uses Agave nectar can be used in coffee, tea, hot chocolate drinks, smoothies and other drinks, as well as in baking, desserts and in snacks.
It adds a great flavor to ice creams, raw nuts and seeds, popcorn as well as fresh fruit.
It is a safe and healthy alternative to sugar and artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, sucralose and saccharin.
Health Benefits Agave nectar contains between 55 to 90% fructose, which makes it a low glycemic sweetener.
Fructose does not spike blood sugar levels the way that glucose does.
Thus agave is essential for those who are battling with diabetes or those wanting to prevent the disease.
It is a great substitute for those who are trying to cut back on calories and lose weight.
Agave contains small amounts of inulin, which helps to improve digestion and prevents certain fats from being absorbed in the intestines.
Agave is also said to help with lowering cholesterol and triglyceride levels, both of which when they rise too high can contribute to high blood pressure and heart disease.
However, just because agave is natural, does not mean that one can indulge in it.
As with any food, it should be consumed in moderation.
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