This was originally published on Pureformfitness.co.uk but I thought it was time to re-post it here. You’ll notice in a lot of my recipes I give the option of either Agave or Sweet freedom for a liquid sweetner (if you’re avoiding honey). I’ve actually ended up mostly using sweet freedom myself and this is why:
For the past few years, agave syrup, also known as agave nectar, has been one of the most popular natural sweeteners, widely used amongst the health conscious as an alternative to sugar. Despite being a fructose (generally seen as being not much healthier than sugar, perhaps even less healthy than sugar), agave was seen as the exception to the rule where fructose is concerned, because it has a lowish GI (of around 40).
However, agave can have an extremely high fructose content (between 60 – 95%) and it’s not always possible to tell from the packaging what the percentage in the syrup you’re buying is. The extremely high percentage of fructose (higher than that of high-fructose corn syrup) can be deleterious and can trigger fructose malabsorption, metabolic syndrome, hypertriglyceridemia, decreased glucose tolerance, hyperinsulinemia, and accelerated uric acid formation if eaten in large amounts. Basically long term consumption of large amounts could lead to the development of diabetes (though of course this goes for unrefined white sugar, maple syrup, corn syrup (which is a common sweetner in soft drinks) etc).
There’s also some controversy over the production of agave syrup, which suggest the provenance, quality and raw status of much agave syrup produced is difficult to guarantee.
So what is the alternative? Well one possible alternative is Sweet Freedom – a syrup with a very similar taste to agave (the mild version anyway) which is made from carob, apples and grapes. It has a 23% fructose content and a GI of around 35. It’s not raw, if you’re concerned about eating a high raw food diet, but otherwise it’s not too bad.
So looking Looking at the health / nutritional side of things, then Sweet Freedom
get’s the win, as it’s lower GI than agave, honey and sugar, plus has lower fructose levels than agave and honey. It’s not something you want to be using tonnes of (no sweetner is) but it could be a better option health-wise. The fact that the producers of Sweet Freedom are a small UK-based company is also a good thing.
Ultimately it’s up to you. I will continue to do some research – I am always open to new information and ideas and if anything comes up I’ll let you know. Do comment here if you have any views on this – it would be interesting to see what people think.
Date syrup is another popular sweetner but I’m yet to find out the fructose content of that… if anyone knows do let me know! 🙂