Agave Syrup Glycemic Index Scale

Melinda D. Teston

For people who love the taste of agave syrup, Glycemic index scale rankings may not be top of mind. After all, agave syrup is most renowned for its excellent reputation as a natural sweetener – it has been claimed to be around 1.6 times as sweet as sugar – and it may very well be said as a result that any health benefits may thus not be of immediate importance. However, one must realize that the target market – the health conscious – data such as Glycemic Index or GI rankings, no matter the food item, is always important, and perhaps especially more so in this case given that the primary usage of the syrup is simply to improve taste.

Produced in Mexico from any of several species of this plant, such as the Blue Agave, Salmiana Agave, Thorny Agave and Rainbow Agave, this is known for its sweetness. As a matter of fact, it is sweeter than honey and even less thick, making it easy to pour, use and serve.

This syrup may be made in different ways. When sourcing it from Blue Agave plants, workers first extract the juice of the core of the plants themselves. This raw juice is first filtered and then heated. Afterwards, it is further processed by being concentrated to a liquid that is syrup-like in consistency and whose color can vary from dark to light depending on how the juice was processed. If workers are to harvest agave syrup from the Salmiana Agave instead, they do so by cutting off its ‘quiote’ stalk and collecting the liquid that collects in the hollow where the stalk grew from. This liquid is called ‘aquamiel’ and is further processed into agave syrup through the addition of various enzymes.

Thanks to its special qualities, namely sweetness and low viscosity, this syrup is often utilized as a substitute for honey and sugar. As previously mentioned, the wide variety of agave variants available – from light agave syrup to dark agave syrup – ensures that this sweetener has a multiplicity of uses. Light agave syrup, thanks to its relatively more delicate flavor, is perfectly suited for use in food and drink that is lightly flavored, such as chicken and various iced teas, as it will not overpower such food. By contrast, at the other end of the spectrum, the more heavily flavored dark it is can be an excellent flavor enhancer for certain heavily flavored foods such as meats and some seafood dishes.

It is little wonder that agave syrup is so sweet. Fully processed agave syrup consists almost entirely of fructose and glucose – as much as 92% fructose and 8% glucose. The overwhelming concentration of fructose means that agave syrup has about the same GI rating as fructose – both rate as low-GI food items. However, one must still be cautious regarding the use of sweeteners, as whether or not they have a high GI rating, they can still be bad for the health if too much is consumed.

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