Why Agave Nectar Is Not Worse Than High-Fructose Corn Syrup

by Dr. Edward Group DC, NP, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM Published on , Last Updated on

agave plant in desert

A couple days ago, Dr. Mercola published an article on Agave Nectar stating that it is an unsafe, toxic substance [1]. In his article it is implied that agave nectar could even be worse for the body than many forms of processed sugars such as High-Fructose Corn Syrup. I have had a lot of e-mails over the last few days regarding this article on Agave Nectar. Now let me say up front that I have the highest respect for Dr. Mercola and this article is not meant to attack him personally, only to state a fair evaluation and my belief on the matter of agave nectar toxicity.

As I read his article, immediately a phrase from traditional Ayurvedic medicine came to mind: There is one answer to any question in regard to human health – “it depends.” And an “it-depends” attitude may shed some light into the recent agave-nectar debate. It will not serve us well to take a limited view on agave nectar. In fact, anytime we label a naturally occurring food as “good” or “bad,” we are bound to encounter some problems.

Here is why. If taken from a holistic perspective, multiple points emerge as to the relativity of the “agave-argument.” I have outlined these points below.

Fructose is not inherently evil

Agave nectar is high in fructose, but so are many foods that we eat. This is Dr. Mercola’s main beef with agave nectar. And while it is true that agave is quite high in fructose, it is the most common form of sugar in all fruits. Dates, molasses, raisins, apples, honey, and even many vegetables and other plants are high in fructose. Fructose is a natural form of carbohydrate, and for thousands of years, it has been an important source of energy for the body.

In fact, fructose in live raw fruits is good for us! A scientific statement from The American Heart Association found that consuming limited amounts of fructose, in a pure form, had no negative effects on the majority of individuals [2]. Other studies show that fructose, in limited amounts, may even reduce the risk of prostate cancer [3].

Another study found that the beneficial fructans found in agave may help fight bone diseases such as osteoporosis, as well as other diseases such as diabetes and colon cancer [4]. This research also suggested that fructans may promote the creation of beneficial gut bacteria, allowing for better absorption of calcium and magnesium (two important minerals for bone health).

Fructose & HFCS are not the same

There is no comparison between a natural form of fructose, such as in fruit or from agave, and the chemically-processed, pesticide-laden, genetically-modified High-Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS). The fructose in agave is a slow release form of sugar. This means that, in comparison to HFCS, which spikes blood sugar levels, agave does not cause the stimulation insulin secretion that leads to harmful rises in blood sugar. What is more, the enzymatic processing of agave is very different from the process of High-Fructose Corn Syrup, which fabricates fructose out of the glucose made from the milled starch of corn.

For High-Fructose Corn Syrup, glucose chains in the starch are broken down into long chain lengths of glucose molecules. These long chains are less sweet, but offer easier viscosity and functionality than raw glucose.

Producers of HFCS are looking for this better viscosity and adaptability, as it allows them to add it, unnoticed, to virtually any substance. To do this, they dry the corn and mix it with water and sulfar dioxide.

From there, the starches are separated from the kernel, fiber and protein. The separated starch slurry is then processed at very high temperatures, mixed with acid, neutralized, and then treated with an enzyme to create a 42% fructose and 55% glucose syrup. It is these strong acids and caustic chemical additives that are believed to be related to mercury contamination in HFCS. Moreover, most HFCS is made from genetically-modified corn, adding yet another contaminant into the processing mix.

Organic agave nectar’s processing could not be further related from this aforementioned processing of High-Fructose Corn Syrup. Agave is processed through either the use of natural enzymes, or through the use of thermal hydrolysis. These processes are essentially used only to evaporate the nectar from the liquid juice that is extracted from the plant. The processing of agave is done in the exact same way in which bees make honey, whether through a natural enzyme in the bee’s stomach, or when they fan their wings to evaporate the natural water out of the sweet liquid before capping into the honey comb.

In essence, no refinement, beyond the evaporation of water, occurs in agave processing. To put this in perspective, one must consider that hydrolysis is a 100% natural process of molecule separation. The human body does it every day!

Agave is not “laced with corn syrup” or pesticides.

Dr. Mercola’s statement in regard to the FDA’s rejection of agave due to pesticide residue requires proof. To this day, and according to Madhava’s website [5], they have seen no evidence of FDA rejections, and many quality brands of agave have certainly never been rejected due to pesticide content. Quality organic brands of agave are 100% pure and contain absolutely no additives.

Agave is not full of “dangerous” saponins and contaminants that cause miscarriage in women

agave plant

Dr. Mercola’s article warns against saponins causing disruption in red blood cells, diarrhea, vomiting and even miscarriage in pregnant women. While agave nectar does contain saponins, it is certainly not dangerous.

In fact, many of the foods that we eat, including beans, legumes, paprika and alfalfa, contain these natural phytosterol compounds. Not only are they not dangerous, but saponins offer many healthy properties.

Moreover, there have been no documented studies that have ever linked agave nectar to miscarriages. Nor is there any research which shows that agave even contains Anodin and Dinordin, the steroid derivatives linked to miscarriages.

His article also warns that agave contains a contaminant called hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF), a bi-product of heating fructose. First, agave nectar that has been enzymaticlly-treated does not have any of these chemical bi-products. Secondly, while agave that is heated at low temperatures will have a resulting HMF content, the levels are so minimal (of 5-7 milligrams per kilogram) that they cause absolutely no health concern. In fact, it is common knowledge that wine holds much higher HMF levels than agave nectar.

Not all agave nectar brands are created equally

It is true that some lower-quality forms of agave have been put through extensive cooking processes that alter the chemical structure of the nectar, making is nothing more than man-made fructose.

In fact, one company called Madhava Agave Nectar produces an organic raw agave that is 100% organic-certified by the USDA. They harvest the nectar from living plants and do very minimal amounts of processing on the nectar. We were told by Madhava, that their Quality Control team regularly visits their Mexican suppliers to ensure quality.

Agave has a rich history that proves its “safety”

For hundreds of years, Mexican traditional societies have revered this plant. It was a natural form of sugar that was eaten seasonally, in limited amounts, and in a raw form. This plant, high in vitamins and minerals, was even used by traditional medicine cultures as a digestive support, and a blood purifier.

Agave nectar is not addictive

Sweet foods have been a part of the human diet for thousands of years. They are an important part of our diet, in moderation. As with any substance, addiction can come from over-indulgence, but not from the inherent qualities of the food itself.

Extreme examples lead to extreme views

Craig Gerbore of Madhava warns against extreme views drawn from extreme examples designed to frighten people, not educate them. Educate yourself on the facts, and in Gerbore’s words, “What is a ‘healthy’ sweetener? One that you use moderately and sensibly.”

Dr. Mercola’s statements on quality control and the toxicity of agave are incorrect

Madhava’s Quality Control, for example, routinely inspects their agave supplier facilities in Mexico and in Colorado. The facilities are run by intelligent, professional individuals and are kept to the highest of international organic standards. Moreover, as stated on Madhava’s website, the statement that there is a shortage on agave plants is not only incorrect, but quite the opposite. There are abundant and healthy agave plants available for use.

When I speak about Agave Nectar, I talk about the importance of minimal and non toxic processing as well as the importance of choosing a reputable company. I personally use Madhava agave nectar in moderation. I recommend everyone do thorough research on any food or food product and decide for themselves whether they think they should consume it.

What are your thoughts on Agave Nectar? Any comments are welcome…


  1. Dr. Mercola. Is This Popular Natural Sweetner Worse than High Fructose Corn Syrup? 2010 July 3. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/07/03/can-this-popular-alternative-sweetener-spike-uric-acid-into-the-danger-zone.aspx
  2. Johnson RK, Appel LJ, Brands M, Howard BV, Lefevre M, Lustig RH, Sacks F, Steffen LM, Wylie-Rosett J; on behalf of the American Heart Association Nutrition Committee of the Council on Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Metabolism and the Council on Epidemiology and Prevention. Dietary sugars intake and cardiovascular health: a scientific statement from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2009;120:1011–1020. http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/120/11/1011.full
  3. Giovannucci E, Rimm EB, Wolk A, Ascherio A, Stampfer MJ, Colditz GA, Willett WC. Calcium and fructose intake in relation to risk of prostate cancer. Cancer Res. 1998 Feb 1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/myncbi/collections/bibliography/43748474/
  4. American Chemical Society. Ingredient in tequila plant may fight osteoporosis and other diseases. ScienceDaily, 23 Mar. 2010. Web. 8 Apr. 2013. http://portal.acs.org/portal/acs/corg/content?_nfpb=true&_pageLabel=PP_ARTICLEMAIN&node_id=222&content_id=CNBP_024338&use_sec=true&sec_url_var=region1&__uuid=
  5. Madhava Natural Sweeteners. http://www.madhavasweeteners.com/honey/madhava-honey/

References (5)
  1. Dr. Mercola. Is This Popular Natural Sweetner Worse than High Fructose Corn Syrup? 2010 July 3. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/07/03/can-this-popular-alternative-sweetener-spike-uric-acid-into-the-danger-zone.aspx
  2. Johnson RK, Appel LJ, Brands M, Howard BV, Lefevre M, Lustig RH, Sacks F, Steffen LM, Wylie-Rosett J; on behalf of the American Heart Association Nutrition Committee of the Council on Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Metabolism and the Council on Epidemiology and Prevention. Dietary sugars intake and cardiovascular health: a scientific statement from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2009;120:1011–1020. http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/120/11/1011.full
  3. Giovannucci E, Rimm EB, Wolk A, Ascherio A, Stampfer MJ, Colditz GA, Willett WC. Calcium and fructose intake in relation to risk of prostate cancer. Cancer Res. 1998 Feb 1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/myncbi/collections/bibliography/43748474/
  4. American Chemical Society. Ingredient in tequila plant may fight osteoporosis and other diseases. ScienceDaily, 23 Mar. 2010. Web. 8 Apr. 2013. http://portal.acs.org/portal/acs/corg/content?_nfpb=true&_pageLabel=PP_ARTICLEMAIN&node_id=222&content_id=CNBP_024338&use_sec=true&sec_url_var=region1&__uuid=
  5. Madhava Natural Sweeteners. http://www.madhavasweeteners.com/honey/madhava-honey/

†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. Global Healing Center does not dispense medical advice, prescribe, or diagnose illness. The views and nutritional advice expressed by Global Healing Center are not intended to be a substitute for conventional medical service. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.

  • David D.

    Dr. G, you seem to be the only doctor who is doing balanced research and sharing facts, not trying to scare people away from agave. I’m glad to have the real information out there. So much of what Dr. Mercola states is not true about how agave nectar is produced – he cherry-picks what he needs to make his position. I love agave nectar, and use it in moderation.

  • I couldn’t agree with you more! Thank you so much for setting everyone straight and speaking the truth. I’ve noticed that some of these other people bashing agave nectar also have links selling other sweeteners, so they have a conflict of interest. Thank you again! ~Rose Cole

  • Thank you so much for this post! I read Dr. Mercola’s article and watched a few videos on his site and I was really turned off of agave. Do you mind clarifying one thing for me. I remember reading that fructose is metabolized like a fat and has implifications on the liver. Is this true ? Thank you

  • Very difficult to know whose right and whose wrong…. But agave sirup is fructuose and therefor should not be used without care. Like maple sirup or any sweet substance it is addictive. So use with care.

  • Taryn

    Moderation and balance are the key as well as “it depends” like Dr. G indicates. Many diabetics do get a blood sugar spike even when using Madhava. Agave Syrup is advertised as low glycemic and this is true. But we have to consider why. It is due to the unusually high concentration of fructose (90%) compared to the small amount of glucose (10%). Nowhere in nature does this ratio of fructose to glucose occur naturally. Some research suggests that fructose actually promotes disease more readily than glucose. This is because glucose is metabolized by every cell in the body, and fructose must be metabolized by the liver. Also eating concentrated sweeteners makes it harder to enjoy the sweet foods we should be eating – whole fresh fruit since they don’t seem as sweet by comparison.

    Whole fruits generally contain a much smaller amount of fructose compared to sucrose and glucose. In addition, fruits contain vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, fiber, and other nutrients. Our bodies are designed to digest a complete “package” of nutrition that appears in whole, fresh, ripe fruits. For example, it’s always better to eat fruits whole or blend them rather than juice them. When you juice fruits you remove the fiber which helps to slow down the absorption of the sugars. Concentrated sweeteners also contain no fiber and have much greater concentrations of simple sugars than are found in fresh fruit or even juices.

    We use Madhava in moderation and will continue to do so. However, with the use of any sweetener it can be very easy to begin to crave the “taset” of “sweet” — especially with children.

    Thanks for stepping-up-to-the-plate Dr. G with a very informative article.

  • Stacy Kaplan

    I agree with you! Thanks for explaining the hype vs. fact. G-d bless! 🙂

  • Alisa G

    What a relief to read your article after the devastating report by Dr. Mercola! I was skeptical as I could find no studies to back his findings, however, articles like that are designed to plant seeds of doubt in an average consumer, and it did just that with me. I am a pregnant person, uninterested in taking any chances with my fetus. So, I want to thank you, most sincerely, for taking away the stress that article created for me, as an agave user. Thank you.

  • RespectfulOne

    texmex, it’s hard to take your comments seriously when you don’t have a grasp of common spellings. It’s not hard to figure out whose right or whose wrong – just look at the science. Mercola eschews real science for his own end – obviously using scare tactics and disregard the benefits of an organic sweetener. One question for Dr. Mercola… has he ever once been to an agave field and seen first-hand the way agave nectar is produced? I think that would be a reasonable thing to do before he attacks something he doesn’t know anything about. His description of the process is completely wrong – proving that he could care less about the truth. Shame on him – these are hard-working people who care about quality and farming and creating living wages.

  • Wren D.

    Taryn, you make great points. Have you considered the amount of fructose from a handful of raisins or a few prunes, or even a dried apple? These are concentrations of fructose, and are available in nature. Native people ate dried fruits and made foods from concentrated fruits – so please remember that fructose is a natural fruit sugar and our bodies do know what to do with this. One small box of raisins contains more fructose than the 2 teaspoons I use in my tea in the morning – so really the conversation should be about quantity – not percentage of fructose. For example, if you add two teaspoons of honey, which may have a lower percentage of fructose, compared to 1 teaspoon of agave nectar, which is sweeter to the taste, you’ve now consumed more fructose. I doubt Dr. Mercola is going to claim that honey is like a poison now. Thanks for being so thoughtful and thorough, Dr. Group.

  • RealFoodGuy

    Dr. G, thank you for stating facts and giving a balanced perspective. I think it’s important to understand the source. Dr. Mercola has a credibility issue – not only does he sell his own products sweetened with stevia, he has had serious warnings from the FDA for his own slick marketing and fear tactics. Funny, because he acts as though he’s getting the truth out against giant corporate food companies, and in reality, he is the giant corporate food company. The guy makes millions on his web site selling stuff! Check out this article I just found from BusinessWeek about Dr. Mercola: http://www.businessweek.com/smallbiz/content/may2006/sb20060523_063274.htm

  • RealFoodGuy

    Sorry, I didn’t mean to say Dr. Mercola is a chiropractor. He is a D.O. Doesn’t have anything to do with my point, though.

  • Sacha E

    I’m from the herbal world and was horrified and appalled when Dr. Mercola clumped saponins into a category labeled “all bad”. Thanks for straightening that point out – we seek out saponins in certain herbs for their beneficial use in the body.

    It’s reassuring to hear the truth behind agave – not all brands are created equal but agave truly is beneficial when you’re buying from a reputable brand.

    Thanks again!

  • Ana Poirier

    Ahhh, thank you so much for your voice of reason!
    This is exactly what I have been telling my clients for a while.
    Agave is a sweetener, don’t go too overboard.
    A good quality brand is definitely better than sugar.
    Thank you again!
    ~ Ana Poirier

  • Sun~Rose

    An excellent balanced article after reading Mercola’s poor journalism.

    I’ve shared it on the list where Mercola’s was posted. Interesting how quickly everyone there believed every word without any researching on their own.


  • Guglielmo

    The info is timely. I was trying to determine whether organic agave in a kefir product was a wise decision. Thanks for the clarification.
    I agree with Doctor G in regards to mercola… The old saying ” The enemy of my enemy is my friend” is true in this case. Mercola is against big pharma and for health freedom and choice which puts him on our side in some respects even if he’s misguided in some of his analysis.
    BTW Dr. G, you are one of the TRULY great minds in the health/healing field; and my list is a short one!

  • skeptic

    I never post comments to articles — but I feel compelled in this case. I agree that Dr. Mercola may be pushing a rather extreme and alarmist view of agave (and that he may not have all of his facts straight). However, due to the obvious pushing of a particular brand of agave nectar within this post, I find myself very wary of any of the claims that Dr. Group makes as well, since he does not seem to be impartial when it comes to this company. Instead, this whole post seems like a advert for Madhava, and so I don’t feel like I can take Dr Group’s word on this any more than Dr. Mercola’s.

  • Respectsall

    Re: texmex, it’s hard to take your comments seriously when you don’t have a grasp of common spellings. It’s not hard to figure out whose right or whose wrong – just look at the science.

    To RespectfulOne: Are you being ironic? It’s “who’s,” not “whose.”

  • Ayla

    The problem with agave products is that they are NOT agave. Agave is extremely rare even in its native central america. Thats why the debate- Agave products tested were found to contain- or be completely composed of high fructose corn syrup. The reason it doesnt affect glucose levels is that it’s a fructose- with messes with a diabetic’s blood sugar JUST AS MUCH AS glucose.

  • RealRawGuy

    Ayla, you are totally confused. Sorry, but you don’t have a clue of what you are talking about. No, agave nectar does not have “high fructose corn syrup”. The discussion is about the difference between man-made fructose (as in High Fructose Corn Syrup) and natural sources of fructose (as in fruit, and the agave plant). It’s odd to me that someone that knows nothing about agave nectar feels the need to weigh in on the subject as though you have some insight. ha… I guess that’s why the internet gives experts and idiots the same freedom. PLEASE show us one test that backs up your claim.

  • sparky rules


    I am gonna keep with the agave, and hey, I am 140+ IQ and I can’t spell worth S**T, it has a lot to do with english makes no sense, doesn’t keep its rules and there for has crazy amount of stuff you have to remember and I knew in 1st grade it “aint” worth my brains time so I glossd over it all, now ask me electrical questions .. that I got…

  • Dani

    I have no issues with Agave Nectar. I’ve heard a lot of the debate and have dove into fairly deeply. I use the Raw Unprocessed kind.. and yes there is a difference even though many cry otherwise. Everything is ‘technically processed’… if you put an apple in a juicer it is ‘processed’. The key is whether there is harmful adulteration during that ‘process’. And there are different types of Agave and ways in which they are processed depending on the manufacturer. It’s key to know and trust those who make the products you take into your body.

    A few reasons why I use it.. 1- I don’t have to use as much. So to your point comparing if you eat a pound of each… THATS the key. With Agave I use WAY less to achieve the same sweetness. 2- Fructose is what you find in NATURAL fruits like apples, etc. Fructose is absorbed into the body slower than sucrose(therefore the much lower glycemic index) so there’s no Spike then Crash of your blood sugar which causes one to lose energy and BURN LESS CALORIES. Regardless of whether you’re Diabetic OF COURSE it matters! It might not kill you, but there is an adverse effect. And finally.. 3- Sugar is processed using Animal products such as BONE CHARCOAL! ICK!

    So to sum it up… Agave allows me to moderate my sugar intake a great deal!

  • Lurkster

    I was thinking similarly & have to agree with Skeptic. While reading his response to Dr Mercola’s point of view on Agave nectar, my question to Dr. Group was, “Does Madhava sponsor any of your endeavors, either directly or through advertisement fees?” In regard to Dr Mercola, agree that his posts are often over-the-top; however, he provides provocative topics to investigate further while I decide. Meanwhile, I’ve given up agave nectar products in favor of stevia both for sake of nutrition, while erring on the side of caution.

  • Dr. Edward Group

    Hi Lurster

    No, I am not sponsored by Madhava or involved in any promotions by their company. I personally use Zylitol for the majority of my uses for a sweetener.

    ~Dr. G

  • Arturo

    Agave is not extremely rare. It is a VERY prolific plant: one individual can produce up to one million new pups!!! Agave is considered an invasive species in many countries (not in the USA, nor Mexico).
    Around 75% of all Agave species thrive in Mexico (its center of origin).
    We humans don’t have the enzimes to break Agave sugars, so they go through unchanged. So, no proble with diabetics. In fact, agave sugars help you produce more insulin.
    When agave reaches your Colon -where bacteria digest the food we eat and make it available for us-, bifid bacteria (good ones) feeds with agave sugars, increasing their number exponentially. Bacteroids (bacteria bad for our health) decreases its number exponentially too. Since ~80% of our immune system is in the colon, a means to keep your colon healthy is VERY important. If your immune system is in good shape, you’ll also have more energy. These are the main reason why agave sugars are VERY GOOD for your health.

  • seattle chiropractor

    Agave nectar is bad for you. It’s not traditional, not natural, highly refined, and contains more concentrated fructose than high fructose corn syrup.
    A natural sweetener is one that a person could reasonably expect to grow, harvest, and process themselves without the use of added chemicals, enzymes, or expensive machinery.

    Agave Nectar? — NOT NATURAL
    Maple Syrup? — NATURAL
    Miel de Agave (traditionally made agave nectar)? — NATURAL
    Honey? — NATURAL
    Truvia? — NOT NATURAL
    Sorghum Syrup? — NATURAL
    Turbinado Sugar? — NOT NATURAL
    Sucanat? — NATURAL
    Sugar Alcohols (like xylitol and erythritol) — NOT NATURAL

    The best choices are organic and natural.

  • Mari

    Hey Dr. Group,
    Thank you for your helpful information. I am a new agave user and want to find the best organic product available. I know you have suggested Madhava, but I recently bought organic raw agave from Wholesome Sweeteners. They say they are organic and fair-trade certified. I have read their website and they seem to be the real deal. Have you heard anything or read any evidence that might suggest otherwise?

    Thank you!

  • Carrie

    Good for you, Arturo! I always feel really good after eating Agave nectar, which I don’t after maple syrup and honey. I have to trust my body knows. I do not feel drained of energy or light headed! Thanks for defending this great food.

  • Karen Bentley

    The basic flaw in this article is to assume that agave syrup or nectar is a natural substance. It’s actually a highly processed substance that’s created through either enzymes,or heat or a combination of both enzymes and heat. Just like sugar comes from beets (which are natural), and corn syrup comes from corn (which is natural), agave syrup comes from the agave plant, which is natural. But sugar, HFCS and agave syrup are not natural substances. They’re all processed substances created by man. t’s not like broccoli, which we eat exactly the way it grows in the ground.

    The concetrated dose of fructose found in agave syrup is also unnatural and it comes without the protective benefits of fiber. The fructose found in fruit is a very small amount of fructose that is easily handled by the body. The dosage of fructose in agave syrup or HFCS is very high and is not easily handled by the body. Even more, the absense of fiber in agave syrup accelerates the metabolization of fructose into triglycerides, which is FAT, FAT, FAT going straight to your arteries or fat cells.

    Agave syrup is not a natural or healthy substance and should not be treated like one.

  • alice

    I agree with most of what you said, and I think that the problem with High Fructose Corn Syrup is probably separate from anything you would get with any natural form of Fructose such as fruit, honey or agave syrup. I think in the naturally occuring forms fructose is in combination with substances that stop it from being dangerous. Just as starch is long chains of sucrose, which itself is a disaccharide or double molecule of glucose and fructose, so inulin and similar substances considered healthy prebiotics are long chains of fructose, oligofructoses. Also fibre and pectin and all the substances that come with naturally occuring forms of fructose.

    Where I would be picky at your article is where you say that agave nectar doesn’t cause blood sugar to spike but High Fructose Corn Syrup does cause blood sugar to spike. I would pick the same argument with an article (acually, an online scientific paper!)I just read about honey that says it doesn’t cause blood sugar to spike. Fructose, in any form, is well known not to cause blood sugar to spike, so whether it is healthy fructose as honey or agave or any other form of fructose you won’t get that particular problem. Blood sugar spiking is never a problem with fructose, and this is not the argument that the detractors of agave, or honey, are making.

    I did read somewhere else that honey is helpful because it gives sustained glucose to the brain instead of a quick spike which then crashes, and getting enough glucose to the brain is essential for everything, but also for being able to sleep which is why honey in a hot drink is so good for falling asleep. I wonder if agave does the same thing? I wonder if sugar cravings are actually the brain demanding that its needs are met, but not getting quite the right fuel so it keeps crying for more like a baby that isn’t being understood.

    Great article, thanks. I just wanted to make my point that fructose doesn’t cause blood sugar to spike.

  • alice

    Interesting what you say about agave being good for probiotic gut bacteria and bad for dysbiotic gut bacteria. Inulin and other oligofructoses are sold as prebiotics that probiotics like bifidus can feed on. Inulin is just long chains of fructose, just as starch is long chains of sucrose (sucrose is a disaccharide, one molecule of fructose and one molecule of glucose). What we call fibre – which supports good gut bacteria – is inulin, oligofructoses, etc.

    I suppose just as sugar in its natural form is different from highly processed white sugar, whether agave is healthy or not might depend on how much it is processed and whether it is reduced to pure fructose or the other elements left with it?

  • Eagle

    Which brands are good quality? How much is safe to consume each day? If you use agave nectar in coffee, say 2 teaspoons, is this a safe amount if you’re drinking 2 to 3 cups of coffee a day? What is the maximum amount of agave you should consume per day – I’m talking about the light or amber agave but not the raw one. Thank you.

  • steve

    The fructose in piece of fruit isn’t a problem because the fruit has fiber in it. Consumed as juice alone, like orange juice, the fructose is unhealthy, just like agave nectar. ONLY WHOLE FRUITS ARE HEALTHY, NOT JUICES! It has nothing to do with it being ‘a natural fructose’!

    When God created the poison, he packaged it with the cure. Fiber.

    Agave is NOT comparable to healthy whole fruit! Your argument is bullshit. Agave IS terribly unhealthy, don’t consume it, period.

  • Bull

    Dr. G,

    What is your relationship with Madhava Agave Nectar? They are the ones that sponsored this article, yes?

    Personally I call BS and think this article is just a plug for the above mentioned company. Which without a proper disclaimer would in fact be illegal.

  • Dr. Edward Group

    Hi Bull,

    Thank you for your feedback. I can assure you there was no endorsement deal had in tandem with the writing of this article.

    I understand your distress though, nobody likes a commercial. Global Healing Center does not have an affiliation with Madhava. Madhava makes a good product, but their mention was really just a passing suggestion- that’s all.

    There are certainly other options and I encourage you, and everyone, to do your own research and make your own purchasing decisions.

    Take care and be well!

    -Dr. G.

  • Why even bother to give deference to Mercola. Mercola is a quack and a fear monger, who makes millions of of gullible people who trust him for health advice. His articles are almost always full of inaccuracies. Mercola and Mike Adams are the LAST place sane people should look to for health information.

  • mike

    Your high, have you ever been to Mexico? Its a succulent “which any person could reasonable expect to grow/harvest” – based on your definition of a natural sweetener.

  • debnose

    Why don’t I see anything here mentioning agave containing so much fructose that the liver cannot process it and turns it into blood triglycerides which leads to heart disease… and cirrhosis of the liver???? The fructose amount in agave is so high it overwhelms anything else containing fructose naturally.

    And about sweeteners not being addictive, that’s baloney! Sugars excite the brain, making us want more and more. How can anyone use a sweetener moderately when they’re not only adding it to a few cups of tea or coffee per day, but to everything else they would sweeten like cereals, desserts, sauces, etc.? If agave consumers suffer the same liver disease as alcoholics and we all know alcohol is addicting, than wouldn’t that be true that agave is addicting too?

    At last, if there are such low-quality agave on the market, how is one to know which are low and which are high? I’ve been consuming Sweet Cactus; Organic Nectar; and Madhava (mentioned as high quality). Is there a list of which ones are low and which ones are high? This will put my mind at ease, but I’ll stick to avoiding agave from now on since I do feel an significant improvement in my health, weight, appearance and energy levels since kicking this stuff out of my daily diet.

  • debnose

    What I think Seattle Chiropractor means is the end product being the agave nectar is not natural, though the agave plant itself is natural, of course. Once the agave plant is processed with chemicals, added enzymes, and with the use of machinery it’s end product is no longer a natural sweetener.
    I would also argue that maple syrup is not natural since it is processed/heated and sometimes formaldehyde pellets are injected into the maple trees to get the sap to flow easier, as I’ve read once? So unless you’re taking the sap right from the tree which had nothing added to it, maple syrup is not a natural product, unfortunately. I do use it on rare occasions, but stick to my honey(lol), stevia and natural organic whole fruit.

  • If the sugar in agave nectar was actually starch as claimed, why would it be sweet? Starch breaks down to glucose, not fructose.

  • Todd Appel

    Agave nectar is NOT a traditional food product of indigenous peoples…It is not natural and it is not harvested from living plants…It is a made up industry similar to HFC and corn…..Why do you make it sound like it is some ancient tradition when it is not?…and do you sell Agave Nectar on your site or through your business or have any financial stake in agave?.

  • I saw Dr Mercola’s article on Agave when I searched for information about the type of sugar it contains. I have been using Agave as my sweetener of choice for about a year now as I have made more conscious choices about what I eat. Whether the opinion voiced in this article is more accurate than Dr Mercola’s is open to interpretation. However it made me realize that artificially adding sweetener of any kind to my food and drink is altering the balance of nutrients I am consuming. So today I have chosen to stop using sweeteners and to just enjoy the natural taste of the food and drink I consume. So I am grateful to both Dr Mercola and Dr Group for being the catalyst for this decision.

  • Ophiolog

    All agave syrups are made by heating the fructans in the sap from the so-called heads of the plants and the process does not require enzymes. Check with Madhava and you will learn that enzymes are not used to their syrup. That aside, most of what you state is correct, which is more than I can say for the amazing claims of Dr. Mercola.

  • Michi

    Thank you so much for explaining this. It makes sense. I’d read about how bad agave was but I couldn’t really get behind it because it seemed like a product that didn’t have very much refining. Even in small amounts this is better than sugar cane, for me as I am highly intolerant to sugar cane. Looking forward to continuing to use agave and making sure I get it from the very best source.

  • Opinionated_Alchemist

    I think, that there are your, Dr. Group’s article and Dr. Mercola article are both extremes. And the truth can be found in the middle.

    I don’t think, that agave syrup, will ruin any ones health. But then I also don’t think that HFCS will do. Both products are also not particularly great for your body either.

    Let me also state, that the example of agave syrup [raw organic agave syrup, harvested of the living plant] is the exception – and I do approve it quite openly. However almost all commercial available agave syrup, with a honey appearance are made out of the pina of the plant and as I understood, are highly processed and will contain pretty high concentrated HFCS with little more than water. Empty calories, which are even (what I understood) pretty bad for your liver/for your health.

    The problem is, that the industry is so much pushing agave as healthy and natural ingredient, that it replaces sugar in many organic and health oriented products. And as soon as it will be used even more, it will become a serious problem for the public health.

  • ghc_health

    Hi O.A., thanks for weighing in, I appreciate your insight. You are right — junk, non-organic, highly processed agave syrup isn’t likely to be much better than corn syrup. I hope those who choose it will opt for an organic variety and use it sparingly. We can’t be complacent and let a worthwhile alternative simply become the next buzzword for the ad wizards to use to sell us stuff.

    “OOOOh, this candy (granola) bar has agave instead of HFCS, I should eat six and inspect nothing further!” Is not the approach to take.

    Thanks for helping keep us awake!

    -Dr. Edward Group

  • Opinionated_Alchemist

    Hm… The problem is, that even organic agave nectar is usually made by the piñas. Bly very few products are made by the saps (oppose to the squeezed piña juice, the agaves live several months if not a year to be tapped in and releasing their saps).
    I don’t want to diabolize agave nectar. However for those who like to look for a healthy alternative to sugar or HFCS- look further (for diabetics it would be a good alternative, off course only in rather small qty)… I am not sure about the “pollution” of HFCS (loaded with pesticides and the residues of the convention from the starch into sugars). But the big problem of HFCS is the strain on the liver of the fructose. And in this case agave nectar is worse…

  • Opinionated_Alchemist

    Starch doesn’t break necessarily down to glucose. E.g. Insulin (the starch in agaves) is breaking down into fructose. This is a fact.

  • Opinionated_Alchemist

    I guess that a lot of misinformation forms your perception…

    Fact is, that you can’t compare agave nectar with fruits! A.N. is processed! Half way as processed as HFCS! And even fresh juices are considered to be only consumed in moderation, as the fibers are mostly gone. And you have to agree, that fresh fruit juice is much less processed than agave inulin, which has to be broken down with high heat or enzymes…

  • Pingback: Why Agave Nectar Is Not Worse Than High-Fructose Corn Syrup :: BEST GROUND()

  • geez goose

    Respectfully, you didn’t critically read Dr. Marcola’s article. And if you did, I suggest you re-read it. He suggests that it is not fructose that is dangerous, but the HIGH levels of consumption that is of concern, regardless of source. This is just the tip of the iceberg of the article I suggest you re-read again. You are referring to points irrelevant to HIS discussion. Sure they are relevant, that is one thing, but as for a point to point discussion with is article, you missed the mark. Good way to get a quickly written rebuttal out though!

  • geez goose

    Agreed. GG NO RE.

  • Pingback: Totuus Total-kaksvitosesta | Olli Posti - ravinnosta, mielestä ja elämästä()

  • Riverwanderer

    HA! I am really not surprised. Thanks for confirming my suspicions. It ALWAYS boils down to money and profit, doesn’t it? Sick.

Top Selling Supplements

Colon Cleanser Oxy-Powder® is the top quality colon cleanser. Promotes optimal colon health and regular bowel activity. Learn More

Liver Cleanse Kit This complete liver cleansing kit is a comprehensive approach to cleansing your liver. Learn More

Get to know Dr. Group

  Our Company




  • Global Healing Center
    2040 North Loop West, Ste. 234
    Houston, Texas 77018
    Telephone: 713-476-0016
    Toll Free: 1-800-476-0016
  • Contact Us