With all the negative hype circulating about artificial sugars, finding a natural substitute to sweeten up your summer can be a challenge! Well, ladies, look no further. Agave plants and nectar have been used for centuries as completely pure, chemical-free sweeteners! Not only will they add a burst of sugary flavor to your favorite foods, but they are also packed with a variety of health and medicinal benefits that will blow your mind. It's time to ditch all that refined sugar and give this miraculous alternative a go!
>> Read more: The Not So Sweet Truth About Sugar and 3 Healthy Alternatives
Long before we were adding a dollop of agave to our morning coffee, this succulent nectar was being used by the Aztecs as a medicine. Because of its remedial properties, agave was applied as a poultice to treat infections and skin conditions. Over time, people found that actually consuming the nectar yielded a multitude of other health benefits.
Since the sweetness of agave comes from a complex form of fructose called inulin (the natural sugar that is present in fruits), it has a much lower glycemic index than most sugars. This eliminates that spike in our insulin levels and the jittery sugar rush we get when we consume granulated sugar or corn syrup. In moderation, it becomes a great alternative for people who suffer from conditions like high blood pressure, Metabolic syndrome, high cholesterol, obesity and Type 2 diabetes.
Inulin is also a type of fiber that is packed with probiotics (a beneficial kind of bacteria), and can aid in digestive health. In addition to all that, agave contains saponins, which are plant compounds that naturally lower cholesterol and are believed to fight the growth of cancerous tumors.
>> Learn more about the harmful effects sugar has on your body here.
Ready to incorporate agave into your diet? Here are some tips!
- Replace your syrup with a serving of nectar.
- Swap out the artificial sweeteners, sugar or corn syrup in your baked goods with agave (make sure you check the conversion ratio!). You can also check out these 10 DIY baking substitutions!
- Add it to your favorite summer beverages instead of sugar. Learn how to skinny your cocktails by clicking here!
- Toss some agave stalks into your summer salads.
- Slip some agave flowers into your morning omelet.
- Roast those fibrous flowers for a sweet, caramel-flavored snack. You can also give one of these 9 high-fiber recipes a try!
>> Check out 13 of our favorite skinny swaps here!
Want to learn more about agave? Check out our sources here: All About Agave, Livestrong.com, SF Gate: Healthy Eating