Caution: Contains Agave Nectar (More to the story)

There is a lot of snake oil in the health food stores and a lot of it is below detectable limits.

We are providing both sides of the Agave Nectar debate here. Each side makes good points.

Personally, I would not call agave nectar a health food fraud as does Mr Nagel: I would call it misleading consumers to its health benefits—due to its high fructose content. Also, Mr. Nagel should have gotten a better expert attack dog than Mr. Biancho. He doesn’t lend much credibility as a “global expert” since he is hard to find on the internet—and having interests in multi-level marketing companies does not help for me.

Mr. Gerbore does well in defending his product, although he uses the usual arguments as a trained public relations pro or defense attorney: Discredit, focus on minor errors, divert the focus to another similar and inferior product made with older methods, all the while neglecting to address the main issue: the high level of fructose and its health effects. He then further diverts attention to an entirely different issue: the problem of over-consumption.

I do wish to thank both gentlemen for giving the Journal some more free feed for our readers.

I do not intend to give my opinion, although after reading Mr. Nagels well-constructed and articulated facts, I would rather eat white sugar than agave nectar.

Kimberly Hartke at hartkeisonline.com put out a controversial message the other day about agave nectar, just when healthy eaters were beginning to get a warm, fuzzy feeling about finally beating the sugar craves without guilt. Now, they will have to come to grips with their past sins. Imagine being conned into thinking this was a healthy, natural, low-glycemic sweetener, only to find out it is another industrial product made with genetically modified organisms to make it real sweet and worse than high-fructose corn syrup.

Here is Kimberly introducing the comments from The Weston A. Price Foundation on the topic:

Just when almost everyone knows that Agave “Nectar” is a low glycemic, “good for you” sweetener, nutrition education non-profit, The Weston A. Price Foundation, reveals it is anything but.

“This sugar substitute is a health food fraud,” claims author Ramiel Nagel. See attached release.

–Kimberly Hartke, Publicist

AGAVE WORSE THAN SUGAR, NUTRITION FOUNDATION WARNS

New Product Contains More Synthesized Fructose than High Fructose Corn Syrup

April 21, 2009, Washington, D.C.– Agave “nectar,” a sweetener increasingly appearing in products aimed at health-conscious consumers, poses greater health hazards than high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), according to a recent article in Wise Traditions, the journal of the Weston A. Price Foundation, a leading voice for accurate nutrition information. Although agave “nectar” is promoted as a healthy alternative to sugar, its high fructose content has nutrition experts raising the caution flag. According to the article, agave contains more free synthetic fructose than high fructose corn syrup, which experts now link to obesity and other health problems.

The article details the manufacturing process for agave “nectar,” which is similar to that used for high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) syrup production. The chemically intensive process transforms starch in the agave root bulb or, in the case of HFCS, corn, into free synthetic fructose.

According to Russ Bianchi, a food industry executive, the body is unable to readily use the unnatural fructose isomer in HFCS or agave “nectar” for energy and so rapidly transforms it into triglycerides (fat), which show up in the body as high triglycerides or as accumulated adipose tissue. Agave contains higher levels of free synthetic fructose than most varieties of HFCS, 70 percent versus 55 percent. “Agave ‘nectar’ is a recipe for obesity, increased insulin resistance, inflammation and heart disease,” says Bianchi, “just like high fructose corn syrup.” The information was published in the Spring, 2009 issue of Wise Traditions, the journal of the Weston A. Price Foundation http://www.westonaprice.org/modernfood/HFCSAgave.pdf.

“As consumers have discovered the dangers of high fructose corn syrup, manufacturers are switching to agave ‘nectar’ in products sold at health foods stores,” says Sally Fallon Morell, president of the Weston A. Price Foundation. “Bottles of agave ‘nectar’ are displacing natural sweeteners like dehydrated cane sugar juice, maple sugar and even honey at high-end stores like Whole Foods. But agave is likely to be even worse for your health than high fructose corn syrup.”

“Agave nectar users have been deceived into believing that they are eating something that is safe and natural,” says Rami Nagel, co-author of the article, “yet they are actually ingesting a highly refined form of fructose instead. A confidential letter from the FDA explains that agave nectar should be labeled as ‘hydrolyzed inulin syrup’ to reveal its true nature. Yet as of today, no agave manufacturers comply with the FDA’s labeling requirement. These manufacturers are deceiving customers while reaping huge profits.”

“The natural health food business has gone to great lengths in the case of agave to defraud consumers,” says Bianchi, “by misrepresenting the true nature of this highly processed ingredient.”

Agave “nectar” also contains high levels of saponins, which can cause miscarriage, making it unsafe for pregnant women. Saponins are steroid derivatives capable of disrupting red blood cells and causing diarrhea and vomiting, making agave problematic for all consumers.

“We urge consumers to read labels carefully,” says Fallon, “and avoid any product containing HFCS or agave. Use moderate amounts of honey, maple syrup and dehydrated cane sugar juice in homemade desserts. Even white sugar is a better choice than agave ‘nectar’.”

The Weston A. Price Foundation is a 501C3 nutrition education foundation with the mission of disseminating accurate, science-based information on diet and health. Named after nutrition pioneer Weston A. Price, DDS, author of Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, the Washington, DC-based Foundation publishes a quarterly journal for its 10,500 members, supports 400 local chapters worldwide and hosts a yearly conference. The Foundation headquarters phone number is (202) 363-4394, http://www.westonaprice.org, info@westonaprice.org.

CONTACT:

Kimberly Hartke, Publicist 703-860-2711, cell 703-675-5557, kimberly@hartkeonline.com

Ramiel Nagel is author of the whole foods nutrition books, Cure Tooth Decay and Healing Our Children. He can be contacted at (800) 314-7806, yourreturn@yahoo.com.

We are providing both sides of the Agave Nectar debate here. Each side makes good points.

Personally, I would not call agave nectar a health food fraud as does Mr Nagel: I would call it misleading consumers to its health benefits—due to its high fructose content. Also, Mr. Nagel should have gotten a better expert attack dog than Mr. Biancho. He doesn’t lend much credibility as a “global expert” since he is hard to find on the internet—and having interests in multi-level marketing companies does not help for me.

Mr. Gerbore does well in defending his product, although he uses the usual arguments as a trained public relations pro or defense attorney: Discredit, focus on minor errors, divert the focus to another similar and inferior product made with older methods, all the while neglecting to address the main issue: the high level of fructose and its health effects. He then further diverts attention to an entirely different issue: the problem of over-consumption.

I do wish to thank both gentlemen for giving the Journal some more free feed for our readers.

I do not intend to give my opinion, although after reading Mr. Nagels well-constructed and articulated facts, I would rather eat white sugar than agave nectar.

Agave Nectar, the High Fructose Health Food Fraud

By Rami Nagel at www.healingourchildren.net

Agave nectar is advertised as a “diabetic friendly,” raw, and a “100% natural sweetener.” Yet it is none of these. The purpose of this article is to show you that agave nectar is in reality not a natural sweetener but a highly refined form of fructose, more concentrated than the high fructose corn syrup used in sodas. Refined fructose is not a ‘natural’ sugar, and countless studies implicate it as a sweetener that will contribute to disease. Therefore, agave nectar is not a health building product, but rather a deceptively marketed form of a highly processed and refined sweetener.

See the full article  below, given first.Published at http://www.naturalnews.com/024892.html

Agave Nectar: Hold on now…

Response to Rami Nagel’s article

By Craig Gerbore, President of Madhava at http://www.madhavasagave.com

. . . So, the author has blurred the line with his all encompassing attack on blue agave nectar, by his failure to present complete information on the subject of agave nectars. For what purpose was this article written? If it were to educate the public, I think it would include all the information available. With the errors and misstatements and half-truths, I don’t think this article is about education, it is an all out shotgun attack.

See the full rebuttal below, given after Rami Nagel’s article.

Agave Nectar, the High Fructose Health Food Fraud

By Rami Nagel, Author of

Agave nectar is advertised as a “diabetic friendly,” raw, and a “100% natural sweetener.” Yet it is none of these. The purpose of this article is to show you that agave nectar is in reality not a natural sweetener but a highly refined form of fructose, more concentrated than the high fructose corn syrup used in sodas. Refined fructose is not a ‘natural’ sugar, and countless studies implicate it as a sweetener that will contribute to disease. Therefore, agave nectar is not a health building product, but rather a deceptively marketed form of a highly processed and refined sweetener.

Agave nectar is found on the shelves of health food stores primarily under the labels, “Agave Nectar 100% Natural Sweetener,” (1) and “Organic Raw Blue Agave Nectar.” (2) In addition, it can be found in foods labeled as organic or raw, including: ketchup, ice-cream, chocolate, and health food bars.

The implication of its name, the pictures and descriptions on the product labels, is that agave is an unrefined sweetener that has been used for thousands of years by native people in central Mexico. Botanically, agave plants are in the lily order Liliales and the order Asparagales (depending on which botanical taxonomic system you use) both of which define agave as a flowering plant. For “thousands of years natives to central Mexico used different species of agave plants for medicine, as well as for building shelter,” so claims the fanciful pedigree of this plant. Natives would also allow the sweet sap/liquid of the agave to ferment naturally, which created a mildly alcoholic beverage with a very pungent flavor known as ‘pulque’. They also made a traditional sweetener from the agave sap/juice (miel de agave) by simply boiling it for several hours. But, as one agave seller explains, the agave nectar purchased in stores is neither of these traditional foods: “Agave nectar is a newly created sweetener, having been developed during the 1990’s.” (3)

What is Agave Nectar?

The principal constituent of the agave is starch, such as what is found in corn or rice. The process in which the agave starch is converted into refined fructose and then sold as the sweetener agave nectar is through an enzymatic and chemical conversion that refines, clarifies, heats, chemically alters, centrifuges, and filters the non-sweet starch into a highly refined sweetener, fructose. Here, a distinction must be made. Fructose is not what is found in fruit. Commonly, fructose is compared with its opposite and truly naturally occurring sweetener, known as ‘levulose’. There are some chemical similarities between fructose (man made) and levulose (made by nature), and so the synthetically refined sugar fructose was labeled in a way to make one believe it comes from fruit. Levulose is not fructose even though people will claim it is. Russ Bianchi is Managing Director and CEO of Adept Solutions, Inc., a globally recognized food and beverage development company. Russ explains:

“If fructose were natural, I would be able to go out to corn field and get a bucket of sweetener. I can go to a beehive and get honey that I can eat without processing it. I can go to an apple tree and pick an apple and eat it. I cannot go out into a cornfield, squeeze corn, and get fructose syrup, and I cannot go into an agave field, and get the product sold on retail shelves, as agave nectar. Falsely labeled agave fructose and high fructose corn syrup are both products of advanced chemistry and extensive food processing technology.” (4) Mr. Bianchi has an insider’s view of the health food industry and the food creation industry, having worked in the industry for decades.

Take water for example. We all know that the chemical formula for water is H2O: two hydrogens and one oxygen. The opposite would be O2H, which is nothing close to water. Likewise, man-made fructose would have to have the chemical formula changed for it to be levulose, so it is not levulose. Saying fructose is levulose is like saying that margarine is the same as butter. Refined fructose lacks amino acids, vitamins, minerals, pectin, and fiber. As a result, the body doesn’t recognize refined fructose. Levulose, on the other hand, is naturally occurring in fruits, and is not isolated but bound to other naturally occurring sugars. Unlike man-made fructose, levulose contains enzymes, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and fruit pectin. Refined fructose is processed in the body through the liver, rather than digested in the intestine.(5) Levulose is digested in the intestine. Refined fructose robs the body of many micronutrient treasures in order to assimilate itself for physiological use. While naturally occurring fruit sugars contain levulose bound to other sugars, high fructose corn syrup contains “free” (unbound), chemically refined fructose. Research indicates that free refined fructose interferes with the heart’s use of key minerals like magnesium, copper and chromium. (6)

The reason why refined fructose is used so commonly as a sweetener is simple: it’s extremely cheap in cost.

Agave nectar, as a final product, is mostly chemically refined fructose, anywhere from 70% and higher according to the agave nectar chemical profiles posted on agave nectar websites. The refined fructose in agave nectar is much more concentrated than the fructose in high fructose corn syrup. For comparison, the high fructose corn syrup used in sodas is 55% refined fructose. High fructose corn syrup is made with genetically modified enzymes. Is agave syrup (refined fructose) made the same way?

“They are indeed made the same way, using a highly chemical process with genetically modified enzymes. They are also using caustic acids, clarifiers, filtration chemicals and so forth in the conversion of agave starches into highly refined fructose inulin that is even higher in fructose content than high fructose corn syrup”, says Mr. Bianchi. Inulin is a chain of chemically refined fibers and sugars linked together, and, this bears repeating, high fructose inulin has more concentrated sugar than high fructose corn syrup!

In a confidential FDA letter, Dr. Martin Stutsman (from the Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Labeling Enforcement) explains the FDA’s food labeling laws related to Agave Nectar: “Corn syrup treated with enzymes to enhance the fructose levels is to be labeled ‘High Fructose Corn Syrup.'” According to Mr. Stutsman, agave, whose main carbohydrate is starch, requires the label “hydrolyzed inulin syrup.” Even though, like corn, agave is a starch processed with enzymes, it does not require the label high fructose agave syrup because the resulting refined fructose sweetener is so sweet that it is chemically closer to inulin.

From this point forward, agave nectar will be referred to by a more accurate name: agave syrup. This name is also legally uncomplicated and non-deceptive, per US Federal labeling laws, even though the true name would be hydrolyzed high fructose inulin syrup. “The product called ‘agave nectar’ is really chemically refined hydrolyzed high fructose, which is intentionally mislabeled to deceive consumers,” states Mr. Bianchi.

In a stunning report released in October 2008, the U.S. government’s own accountability office reported that of the thousands of food products imported into the US each year from 150 countries, just 96 total food items were inspected by the FDA to insure label accuracy and food safety. (7) The FDA doesn’t usually protect consumers regarding food safety or food labeling, nor does it usually take action against many misleading labels. This was seen with the processed infant formula scandal from China, where infant milk powder was tainted with toxic melamine.

High Fructose Agave’s Dubious History

In the year 2000, with warrants in hand, federal agents from the Office of Criminal Investigations of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) came banging on the door of North America’s largest agave nectar distributor, Western Commerce Corporation in California. In an extremely rare case of the FDA protecting consumer interests (rather than supporting big business, while shutting down legitimate and health consciousness competition), they discovered that Western Commerce Corporation was adulterating their agave syrup with high fructose corn syrup (to lower the cost even more and increase profit margins). While the federal agents confiscated the material in the warehouse, the owners of Western Commerce Corporation were nowhere to be found. Those who ran the company fled the country with millions of dollars in assets to avoid criminal prosecution.

This adulterated agave syrup (refined fructose) was also labeled as certified organic (8) to fool consumers into thinking they were getting a pure product. This shows you how unverified organic labels were used in the USA, and continue being used even now.

Today, high fructose agave syrup is made primarily by two companies, Nekulti, and IIDEA. Yet a third agave marketer, by the name of ‘Volcanic,’ has a suspicious claim on their website. “If your agave comes from one of the other two companies in Mexico, something has been added.” (9) They are referring to Nekulti and IIDEA. Their claim is based upon an analysis, which claims that their agave nectar has a lower refined fructose level.

Blue Agave Nectar is Not a Safe Sweetener

When the Spaniards came to the New World, around 1535, they brought with them a
desire for brandy. When their supplies ran out they had to find a new alcoholic beverage to replace their lost brandy. The Spaniards found that by distilling the juice of the plant now known as the blue agave plant they could produce a potent alcoholic beverage, which over time has evolved into what we now call tequila. In order to produce a sweetener from the blue agave plant, the entire pineapple -like, giant root bulb of the plant is removed from the earth. It is then dried and juiced, making an agave starch juice. This in no way resembles any form of traditional use of the blue agave plant. While great for distilling tequila, the blue agave plant, when transformed through a chemical process into refined fructose, may contain many properties that make them dangerous and toxic for regular human consumption.

“Yucca species, together with other agaves, are known to contain large quantities of saponins,” according to Tyler’s Honest Herbal. Saponins in many varieties of agave plants are toxic steroid derivatives, as well as purgatives, and are to be avoided during pregnancy or breastfeeding because they might cause or contribute to miscarriage. These toxins have adverse effects on non-pregnant people and many health compromised consumer categories as well. They are known to contribute to internal hemorrhaging by destroying red blood cells, and they may gravely negatively harm people taking statin and high blood pressure drugs. Agave may also stimulate blood flow in the uterus.(10) Other first hand reports indicate agave may promote sterility in women. Since the agaves used for agave syrup are not being used in their traditional way, there should be a warning label on the sweetener packages that it may promote miscarriage during pregnancy, through weakening the uterine lining.

What’s Wrong With Fructose?

Once eaten, refined fructose appears as triglycerides in the blood stream, or as stored body fat. Elevated triglyceride levels, caused by consumption of refined fructose, are building blocks for hardening human arteries. Metabolic studies have proven the relationship between refined fructose and obesity.(11) Because fructose is not converted to blood glucose, refined fructose doesn’t raise nor crash human blood glucose levels — hence the claim that it is safe for diabetics. Supposedly, refined fructose has a low glycemic index, and won’t affect your blood sugar negatively. But the food labels are deceptive. Refined fructose is not really safe for diabetics. “High fructose from agave or corn will kill a diabetic or hypoglycemic much faster than refined white sugar,” says Mr. Bianchi. “By eating high fructose syrups, you are clogging the veins, creating inflammation, and increasing body fat, while stressing your heart. This is in part because refined fructose is foreign to the body, and is not recognized by it.”

The average person consumes about 98 pounds of highly refined corn fructose per year in the USA, that roughly translates into half a cup of refined fructose per day. In an average supermarket, at least 2/3 of all items contain some form of highly refined fructose, because it is one of the cheapest ingredients and fillers for foods, next to water, air, and salt. In health food stores, some foods contain a sweetener called crystalline fructose or other sweeteners labeled as fructose. Essentially, these are all refined corn fructose, labeled in a way to trick people that it is something more natural. Mr. Bianchi concludes:

“The simple answer tends to be the correct one. There is no land of milk and agave. Milk comes from goats, cows, humans, etc., and honey comes from bees. What I want people to understand is that mislabeling a sweetener like agave syrup is about money and profit, to the real determent of your health. The unethical factor is that the natural health food business has gone to great lengths in the case of agave to defraud consumers, by deceiving and lying to those who are trying to seek better health. There is something ethically worse about a company pretending to sell something all natural to people seeking health, than a mainstream company not pretending that their food is healthier. For example, nobody selling fast and junk foods is advocating it is health food. When you are in a natural health food store, you expect to pay extra money for something that is good for you. We have con artists here, pretending to deliver better health at a higher cost, when in reality it is equal to, or much worse than the many other sweeteners or harmful junk food. People are expecting to receive health, and are intentionally being defrauded for profit.”

Amber Agave Syrup (refined fructose)

Agave syrup (refined fructose) comes in two colors: clear or light, and amber. What is this difference? Mr. Bianchi explains, “Due to poor quality control in the agave processing plants in Mexico, sometimes the fructose gets burned after being heated above 140 degrees Fahrenheit, it creates a darker, or amber color.”

Chain Food Stores and Health Food Stores

When Western Commerce Corporation was shut down, due to their agave syrup alteration scheme in 2000, the big guys in the food industry stayed away from any agave syrups. They knew better than to risk lawsuits, and health consumer fraud. “They were clear that agave was criminally mislabeled per US Code Of Federal Regulation labeling laws, with an untried sweetener, new to the market, that contained saponins, and was not clearly approved as safe for use.” explains Mr. Bianchi. For many years following this bust agave syrup was not used.

But recently, some sellers in the agave syrup field, once quiet, have begun sneaking back into the food and beverage chain. And retail food giants like Whole Foods, Wegman’s, Trader Joes and Kroger, (12) who should know better, and who should know the food labeling laws and requirements, still have no hesitation in selling the toxic, unapproved, and mislabeled refined fructose agave syrup, as well as products containing it. Mr. Bianchi explains the legality of this practice. “The simple answer here, again, tends to be the correct one. The stores carry agave products knowing that if they are caught, the legal responsibility will be on the agave sellers and producers, and not the stores. They will just pull it off the shelves. They may also be victims themselves and lied to by the purveyors and sellers of agave products. So long as agave products are profitable, the stores will carry them, regardless of fraudulent labeling or health concerns. Stores will continue to carry agave until consumer fraud complaints to local district attorneys, consumer unions, class action litigation or severe reactions like death ensue.”

Conclusions on Agave Syrup

Without the FDA making efforts to enforce food-labeling laws, consumers cannot be certain that what they are eating is even what the label says it is. New sweeteners like agave syrup (refined fructose) were made to coin a profit, and not to help or assist vital health. Due to the lies from many companies who sell agave syrup (refined fructose), you have been led to believe that it is a safe and a natural sweetener. The retail refined agave syrup label does not explain that it goes through a complicated chemical refining process of enzymatic digestion, which converts the starch into the free, man-made chemical fructose that has a direct link to serious the degenerative disease conditions so prevalent in our culture. While high fructose agave syrup won’t spike your blood sugar levels, the fructose in it will cause: mineral depletion, liver inflammation, hardening of the arteries, insulin resistance leading to diabetes, cardio-vascular disease, obesity, and may be toxic for use during pregnancy.

If you want to buy something sweet, get a piece of fruit, not a candy bar labeled as a “health food.” If you want to create something sweet, use sweeteners that are known to be safer. For uncooked dishes, unheated raw honey or dates work well. For cooked dishes or sweet drinks, a good organic maple syrup, or even freshly juiced apple juice or orange juice can provide delicious and relatively safe sweetness. In general, to be healthy, we cannot eat sugar all day, no matter how natural the form of sugar is, or is claimed to be. One should limit total sweetener consumption to approximately 10% of daily calories. Or one sweet side dish per day, (like a bowl of fruit with yogurt.)

While it may be depressing news to hear about the lack of standards in the health food world, let this news help encourage you to seek access to more pure and unrefined foods and sweetener sources, so that you can be healthier.

Articles Links
1. (http://www.madhavasagave.com/AgaveP…)
2. (http://www.wholesomesweeteners.com/…)
3. (http://www.madhavahoney.com/agave.htm)
4. (http://servicesdirectory.ift.org/cm…)
5. (http://journalism.nyu.edu/pubzone/a…)
6. (http://www.westonaprice.org/modernf…) (USDA in Beltsville studies)
7. (http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d08597.pdf)
8. (http://findarticles.com/p/articles/…)
9. (http://www.volcanicnectar.com/bluea…)
10. (http://childbirthsolutions.org/arti…)
11. (http://news.ufl.edu/2005/12/06/fruc…) (http://healthnews.uc.edu/news/?/825/ ) (http://www.sciencedaily.com/release…) (http://www.ajcn.org/cgi/content/ful…)
12. (http://www.time.com/time/specials/2…)

About the author

Ramiel Nagel is the author of “Healing Our Children: Because Your New Baby Matters! Sacred Wisdom for Preconception, Pregnancy, Birth and Parenting.” Healing Our Children explains the true causes of disease conditions of pregnancy and childhood so that you can avoid and prevent them. It provides essential natural health programs so that mothers and their new babies can optimize their health during the times of preconception, pregnancy, lactation and the early years. Receive a free chapter at: www.healingourchildren.net
In “Cure Tooth Decay: Heal and Prevent Cavities With Nutrition,” Nagel, reveals how he cured his daughter’s and his own cavities through nutrition. Learn the real cause and cure for cavities, how to prevent root canals, and natural treatments for tooth abscess. Receive a free chapter at: www.curetoothdecay.com
Free health information is also available at:
www.preconceptionhealth.org – A Program for preconception health based on indigenous wisdom.
www.yourreturn.org – The cause of disease and the end of suffering of humanity.

_________________________________________

Agave Nectar: Hold on now…

Response to Rami Nagel’s article

By Craig Gerbore, President of Madhava

In response, I must first point out that Mr. Nagel’s article is based on the view of a sole individual, Russ Bianchi. I suppose we should thank Mr. Bianchi for pointing out some issues that may have contributed to Iidea’s (the initial manufacturer of blue agave nectar) demise from the market, however I want to be clear, this is not about Madhava or our agave nectar. Once a dominant supplier, as of this past summer Iidea is no longer a major supplier in the agave syrup business. The distributors using them as a supplier have quietly switched to newly formed blue agave companies for their supply. Madhava has always worked exclusively with Nekutli, the producer of agave nectar from the agave salmiana, a very different species of the agave.

However, there is no mention of our agave nectar from salmiana in the article, nor of the differences in the plant, the collection and production of our product. So, the author has blurred the line with his all encompassing attack on blue agave nectar, by his failure to present complete information on the subject of agave nectars. For what purpose was this article written? If it were to educate the public, I think it would include all the information available. With the errors and misstatements and half-truths, I don’t think this article is about education, it is an all out shotgun attack.

I believe Mr. Bianchi, presented as the sole authority on agave nectar, was initially introduced to Iidea’s blue agave syrup product on their entry to the market in the late 90’s. At that time, Iidea was promoting a 90% fructose agave syrup. This is what I believe Mr. Bianchi is referring to. Unfortunately, he ignores the fact that this is not the agave sold on the market today, nor is it representative of Madhava’s product. In fact Mr. Bianchi has never even acknowledged the existence of our agave nectar from the salmiana variety. So, all his comments are apparently based on his experience with Iidea’s product, but I find ourselves caught in the blast.

In their zestful attack against the blue agave syrup he was introduced to initially, Mr.’s Bianchi and Nagel have also made inaccurate comments which reflect on agave nectar generally. As such, I take issue with several of their statements and claims and want to clarify some things as regards Madhava’s Agave Nectar from agave salmiana.

Their discussion of the processing of agave nectar is in no way reflective of how Madhava’s agave nectar is produced. There are three ways to convert complex sugars into a simple sugar sweetener such as agave syrup. It can be done thermally, chemically, or enzymatically as ours is. There are no chemicals whatsoever involved in the production of Madhava’s agave nectar from agave salmiana, nor is it cooked. Our agave is subject only to low temperatures during the evaporation of excess water from the juice.

The author states “The principal constituent of the agave is starch, such as what is found in corn or rice.”

This statement, which is the foundation of much of their argument comparing agave nectar to corn syrup, has no basis in scientific fact, THERE IS NO STARCH IN THE AGAVE.

How can the author and his source be so mistaken on this statement on which he bases his attack?

All plants store energy in one of two ways, as starches or fructans. All agave plants create fructans as their energy storing means.

So, agave plants have fructans, not starch. From Wikipedia: Inulins are a group of naturally occurring polysaccharides produced by many types of plants. They belong to a class of fibers know as fructans. Inulin is used by some plants as a means of storing energy and it typically found in roots or rhizomes. Most plants which synthesize and store inulin do not store other materials such as starch.

There is no starch in either species of agave, and agave nectar is not from starch as the author and Mr. Bianchi claim. They have tried very hard to propagandize the public with a false fact, either by design, or ignorance, for which there would be no excuse.

Such an error of fact certainly casts doubt on the validity of the rest of Nagel’s article, as the lack of depth of his research has to be apparent to all. Really, he is just regurgitating the singular views of Mr. Bianchi.

I personally spoke with the author during his “research”, as did at least one other in the industry. He chose not to include one word of the information given to him by us, which I will repeat below, and failed to make any distinction between Madhava’s Nekutli agave nectar from salmiana and that from the blue agave plant. He only mentions blue agave. The plants differ, the locations differ, the methods and production differ greatly. The information we gave him did not fit his purpose and so was omitted in favor of a generalized attack.

Madhava’s source is exclusively agave salmiana. If you haven’t already reviewed our site at http://www.madhavasagave.com , you will find background information there. Briefly though, the native people supplying the juice collect it from the live plant, by hand, twice daily. There is no heat involved in the removal. The juice is immediately brought to the facility to remove the excess water as it will ferment rapidly if left standing. It is during the removal of the moisture that the only heat is applied. The juice is evaporated and moisture removed in a vacuum evaporator. The vacuum enables the moisture to be withdrawn at low temperatures. The temp is closely controlled. Subsequently, our agave is handled and packaged at room temperatures. No other heat is applied. And, rather than convert the complex sugars of the juice thermally, we use gentle enzymatic action. Just as a bee introduces an enzyme to flower nectar to make honey, we introduce an natural organic vegan enzyme for the same purpose. The technical term for the conversion of complex sugars into their simple sugar components is hydrolysis. Inulin is a fructan which is hydrolyzed into the simple sugars composing agave nectar, fructose and glucose. Honey is composed of the same simple sugars.

The blue agave plant is harvested and the blue agave nectar is produced by a completely different method. I will have to leave it to the blue agave nectar sellers to comment on the production themselves. While I know of it, I have not witnessed it as I have Nekutli’s. Unlike the author, I won’t comment publicly on something I cannot verify.

To clarify further on another claim, “Agave Nectar as a final product is mostly chemically refined fructose”. As regards Madhava’s agave nectar, there are no chemicals involved in our production whatsoever. The sugars in our agave nectar come from the breakdown of the inulin molecule through the introduction of the enzyme to break apart that molecule. It is in no way chemically refined, there are no chemicals involved in any part of the production or packaging process. Our agave nectar is refined only in as much as the excess moisture is removed from the juice of the plant.

“HFCS is made with GM enzymes”. Bianchi’s states “they (agave and corn syrup) are indeed made the same way” This is another false assertion as regards Madhava’s agave nectar at least. Our agave nectar is certainly and clearly not made the same way as corn syrup. There is no starch in our agave. There are no chemicals, no refinement beyond the evaporation of water. And, there are no GMO’s whatsoever. The agave salmiana has never been subject to this and the enzyme is a natural, non GM organic, vegan enzyme.

Other points regarding fructose apply to sugars in general and are a consumption, or overconsumption issue. Certainly consuming large amounts of sweeteners of any kind will be detrimental to one’s health. Suggesting fructose could cause health issues when concentrated amounts are eaten is a statement which should really apply to the overconsumption issue. The information the author links to agave nectar is the result of megadose testing of pure clinical fructose. Not the same thing as normal daily use of agave nectar in the course of our meals.

The antisweetener advocates just have to admit that it is the overconsumption of sugars that is the problem. Used in moderation, sugars serve a purpose, to make other foods and beverages more palatable. Imagine a world without sweeteners if you can. Affinity for sweet taste is a human trait that most want to satisfy. For those who use sweeteners, there are limited choices available and many choose agave for its particular attributes. It is a good choice. Madhava Agave’s neutral flavor suits the purpose. It is in fact low glycemic, organically certified and non allergenic. Many with diabetes and other special diets find it suitable for their use where other sweeteners are not. It’s easy to use and you can use less.

And, we guarantee the purity of our product. Attached is a letter from the CEO of Nekutli stating this guarantee that Nekutli agave syrup is pure and unadulterated, from the natural juice of agave salmiana.

While it remains up to the individual to maintain balance in their diet and monitor their overall consumption of sweets, Nekutli/Madhava’s Agave Nectar does have advantages over other sweeteners and that is why it has become so popular and
received so much attention today.

I think the information I have brought to light here clearly contradicts the claims contained in Rami Nagel’s article. Thank you for your consideration.

15 responses to “Caution: Contains Agave Nectar (More to the story)

  1. I find this information quite questionable. There have been smears against agave nectar before.

    What is the science behind this information?

  2. brainon4u–You could probably get more on the science by using the contact info at the end of the article.

    IMO, anything super-processed can’t be good. You’re always better off with honey and maple syrup.

  3. well, maple syrup is processed – cooked from 45 qts of sap to 1 gal of syrup…

    honey is not to my taste

  4. I know people who grow their own agave plants and use it as a sweetener. If the problem is the processing that manufactures put the plant through that strip it of it’s health benefits then agave itself is not dangerous. You should just be very careful in regards to the credibility of where it comes from which you should do with all foods anyways. I appreciate the information, but I hope people don’t dismiss agave as a possible alternative just because big business has gotten wind of this trend and is trying to cash in by mass producing a lesser product, but calling it the same. This type of thing is everywhere in grocery stores. The health food industry is booming and everyone wants a slice of the pie. You can’t take the label at it’s word. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Products are labeled “natural” (like natural Cheetos) or “sugar free” (Aspartame, sucralose… definitely NOT sugar) or ” no trans fat” (but has 20 grams of mono or poly unsaturated fat per serving) or “100 calories” ( if you eat 1/2 of an ounce!) Marketers are always trying to trick people into thinking things that are “healthy” because they can charge at least twice as much as the “non- healthy” version. If the production cost isn’t any different well … it’s just a win win situation.

  5. brainon4u- You’re right, maple syrup is processsed by boiling it down. What I should have said was at least there isn’t any garbage added to it (there shouldn’t be, anyway.)

    I was never a big honey fan, either. I’ve slowly acquired a taste for it. Also, it’s amazing how different types of raw honey taste, some are full-bodied, some are sort of tangy. Just depends on what the critters ate, I guess.

  6. Deb–Thanks for posting that link, very interesting.

  7. My wife and I began using xylitol as our only sweetener months ago and have never looked back. Our agave sits unused. Time to toss it.

  8. After discovering the alkaline acid diet I have begun to eliminate processed foods from my diet. Still a long way to go. This agave syrup doesn’t sound like something I want in my diet.

  9. My wife and I have been serving agave ice cream at our ice cream stand in Kidron, Ohio for about 3 years now and NO ONE has ever come back with a negative comment or a spike in their sugar levels.

  10. …as far as we know

  11. Your blog is so informative … ..I just bookmarked you….keep up the good work!!!!

    Hey, I found your blog in a new directory of blogs. I dont know how your blog came up, must have been a typo, anyway cool blog, I bookmarked you. 🙂

    Robert Shumake Paul Nicoletti

  12. Pingback: Two Cents on Agave Nectar : blender dude

  13. Pingback: Ice Cream Recipes Reviews » Blog Archive » Ice Cream Recipe Agave

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