Have you heard all the buzz about cutting down on sugar and replacing it with healthy sugar alternatives, also known as natural sweeteners?

There is a lot of information coming out these days about how too much sugar in the diet can be a precursor to weight gain, or worse, chronic diseases such as type-2 diabetes. Therefore, many people seem to be in search of these natural sweeteners that can be used in meals or beverages in place of sugar.

Some of the more common natural sweeteners include honey, real maple syrup, and the most exotic one, agave. But what really is the truth about these natural sweeteners, more specifically agave? Is it really healthy or better than sugar itself? It's important to learn about these sweeteners before deciding to use them.

Agave is a native plant grown in the Southern US, Northern South America and the hilly regions of Mexico. Most agave sweeteners are produced from the Blue Agave plant. The core of the plant contains aguamiel, which is the substance used for the sweetener. Even though agave starts out as a natural substance, it goes through a process to become the commercial product you purchase in grocery stores. Unfortunately, since agave undergoes a commercial process, much like other sugars, it is no better or healthier for you than other sugars.

Processing yields a syrup-like substance and contains about 60 calories per tablespoon. By comparison, the same amount of sugar contains less; about 40 calories per tablespoon.

Agave is 55-90% fructose which means it has more fructose than table sugar (sucrose). The rest is glucose. Due to its lower glucose content, Agave has a low glycemic index and therefore, it doesn’t cause as quick a spike in your blood sugar after eating it. Due to its higher fructose content, Agave is approximately 1.4 times sweeter than sugar and therefore you can use less to sweeten your foods. It’s important to note that there is a downside to Agave nectar. Fructose has been linked to high triglycerides which is a risk factor in heart disease. If you have a history or risk of heart disease, this should be a consideration when choosing to use Agave. In addition, if you have irritable bowel syndrome or trouble absorbing fructose, you may want to choose another sweetener. Overall, Agave can be a good alternative to table sugar but keep in mind it is still a caloric sweetener and should be used in moderation.

Author's Bio: 

Bonnie R. Giller is a registered and certified dietitian nutritionist and certified intuitive eating counselor who helps chronic dieters break free of the pain of dieting and get the healthy body they love. She has multiple degrees in clinical nutrition, a certification as a certified diabetes educator and she works with people who are struggling with dieting or health conditions like diabetes take back control so they can get a healthy body and live their lives symptom free.

Bonnie utilizes the principles of intuitive eating in her work with her clients, which is eating based on internal signals of hunger and satiety versus situations or emotions. The result is they lose weight, keep it off without dieting and live a healthy life of guilt-free eating.

Bonnie is the author of 2 cookbooks and is now working on her third cookbook. She is also the author of an e-book called “5 Steps to a Body You Love Without Dieting” which you can download free at http://www.DietFreeZone.com

For more information on Bonnie’s programs, books, lectures and presentations, visit http://www.brghealth.com