Local News

Agave Syrup A Natural Sugar Alternative

Posted January 30, 2002

— In the land of sweet tea, a lot of southerners think the more sugar the better. That is, until the calories are added up.

Two tablespoons of sugar have about 30 calories.

For those looking for a natural sugar alternative and fewer calories, many people are finding that agave syrup satisfies their sweet tooth.

"Indigenous people in Mexico have been using the agave for years," according to Avis Noble of Naturel Foods.

Agave syrup comes from agave plants. The plants are in the same family as the blue agave, from which tequila is made.

Once the plant reaches a certain age, farmers dig the trunk out of the ground, split it open and remove the core. From there, the sap is removed and refined. The result is agave syrup, which is 25 percent sweeter than sugar.

Many food companies, including Kraft, use agave syrup in their products. Snapple sweetens some of its beverages with agave.

Now the syrup is being sold as a sweetner that can be used in drinks or for baking.

"It's like honey, so you have to turn the oven down 25 degrees because it browns more," Noble warned.

Since agave syrup is sweeter than sugar, less of it is needed and one-third fewer calories are consumed.

Agave syrup is sold in the honey section of natural food and Whole Foods stores.

Diabetics interested in using agave syrup should consult their physician.

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