Last updated: August 11, 2021

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Agave has been used as a folk medicine for centuries. Even the Aztecs used the desert plant as a medicinal plant and food. The medicinally used Agave Americana, or blue agave, is only one of the many species. The thick juice extracted from it has healing effects and is used in many areas of medicine and homeopathy.

With this article we want to inform you about the healing effects of agave and show you why you should only sweeten your tea with agave syrup in the future. We also want to show you what to look for when buying agave syrup with our agave syrup test 2021. What advantages and disadvantages the different products have and how you can find the best syrup for you.




The most important thing

  • The nectar of the agave has played an important role in folk medicine for centuries. Its antiseptic and wound-healing properties have always been used to treat wounds and infections.
  • Agave syrup is a purely vegetable sweetener made from the nectar of the agave. This syrup is very suitable for sweetening because it has almost no taste of its own.
  • The purely vegetable sweetener is popular with vegans and diabetics because the glucose content is very low. However, the fructose content is so high that it has a laxative effect in large quantities.

Agave: Our Selection

Buying and evaluation criteria for agave syrup

When buying agave syrup, you can look at various aspects, such as:

The market is overflowing with alternative sweeteners. Everything from honey to stevia is available in the supermarket. Read the following points carefully before buying to decide if agave is right for you.

Consistency

Agave nectar is obtained from the leaves of the plant. For this purpose, they are cut open and the viscous mass is removed.

As you can see, agave sweeteners are slightly liquid to begin with. However, they can also be concentrated and further processed until they form a powder.

Powdered sugar

The processed powdered or icing sugar can be used in the same way as conventional cane icing sugar.

However, the one made from agave has a higher sweetening power. You need to use less sugar than with conventional icing sugar.

The advantage of agave sugar is that it has no flavour of its own. This means that it is very suitable for sweetening. In addition, the powder is white, which means that the colour of the food or drink is not distorted. Since it is solid, it can also be used very well for baking.

Advantages
  • No flavour of its own
  • No colour
  • Good for baking
  • Easy
Disadvantages
  • Difficult to dissolve in water
  • Difficult to obtain

The disadvantage is that it is a powder. This means that it dissolves very slowly in liquids and only with constant stirring. Agave syrup is better suited for this.

Liquid syrup

Agave syrup also has hardly any flavour of its own. However, the darker the colour of the syrup, the more the caramel tone of the syrup comes to the fore. In this sense, the syrup has a stronger flavour than the powder.

However, the advantage here is that the syrup dissolves well and quickly in the tea or coffee.

The thick juice is more liquid than honey and does not solidify over time. Therefore, it can be stored for a longer period of time and can be used for sweetening at any time.

Advantages
  • Caramel flavour
  • Mixes easily with liquids
  • Readily available
Disadvantages
  • Not suitable for baking
  • Always remains liquid

So the conclusion is that for drinks you should use the syrup. For baking, the powder is recommended.

Nutritional values

Agave syrup is a vegetable sweetener that is rich in nutrients. Mainly carbohydrates, minerals, trace elements and secondary plant compounds are found in the syrup. Fibre and protein are only found in small quantities.

On average, the following nutritional values occur per 100 grams of agave syrup:

  • Carbohydrates 76 grams
  • Protein 0.1 gram
  • Dietary fibre 0.2 grams
  • Calcium
  • Magnesium
  • Iron
  • Potassium
  • Sodium

A main component of the syrup is carbohydrates or sugar. Glucose makes up about 10 percent and fructose 90 percent. Therefore, it is not suitable for people with a fructose intolerance. (8, 11)

Calories

Per 100 grams of agave syrup you get about 310 kilocalories. This is about a quarter less than conventional household sugar.

However, you should bear in mind that agave syrup tastes a lot sweeter (about a quarter) than sugar. So you need less of it. All in all, you can avoid a higher amount of calories by using agave syrup.

Organic quality

Whenever you buy food, you have to decide whether you want a conventional product or an organic one. Agave syrup is no different. We recommend that you choose organic syrup.

Only here is it guaranteed that no pesticides or other chemical additives are contained, so that neither the environment nor yourself are harmed.

However, you should consider whether agave syrup is really the right thing to do if you want to protect nature. In our latitudes, agaves can only be grown in greenhouses.

That is why agaves are mainly grown in Central and South America. This means that they have to travel long distances to reach our shelves. Honey or domestic alternatives have a lower carbon footprint than agave syrup

Colour and taste

Agave syrup is very popular as a sweetener. Its brownish colour is reminiscent of honey or maple syrup. But unlike these popular sugar substitutes, agave syrup has almost no flavour of its own.

However, the darker the colour, the more intense the taste. So bear in mind that dark agave syrup does take on an intense and caramel-like flavour.

Packaging

Agave syrup can be packaged in a variety of ways. The most popular is the plastic bottle, from which the thick juice can be literally squeezed out.

Surely you are wondering if there is a more environmentally friendly option. Many people with this in mind go for the glass bottle.

But note that this type of packaging is only more environmentally friendly if you actually reuse it. If you throw it in the container right after you run out of syrup, we don't recommend this type of packaging.

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying agave products

In order to inform you comprehensively about the effectiveness of agave products and to bring you closer to the current state of science, we have summarised all the important information in the following sections.

What are agaves and how do they work?

Agaves belong to the plant group succulents, which, like cacti, store water very well. They do this in their thick, fleshy and spiny leaves. The gel and sap contained in them are used for medicinal purposes. Mainly the nectar obtained is used in homeopathy.

Agaves belong to the succulents. These desert plants store water in their leaves. (Image source: Unsplash / Drew Beamer)

Besides fructans (mainly agave), agaves also contain steroidal saponins (including agavosides A, B, C and agavesaponins D, E and H), hecogenin, tigogenin, isoflavones and coumarins, Tetratriacontanol, homoisoflavonoids, small amounts of essential oil, xylose (sugar), polysaccharides (such as inulin), oxalic acid, beta-carotene (provitamin A) and vitamins B, C, D, and K. (5, 7)

Agaves have been used in medicine for centuries. Their ingredients work:

  • antibacterial
  • anti-inflammatory
  • blood sugar lowering
  • bone-strengthening
  • diaphoretic
  • pain-relieving
  • weight-reducing
  • diuretic
  • laxative
  • relaxing

(5, 6)

Agave products are toxic in large quantities, which is why they are mostly only used externally, homeopathically, in low doses and as an admixture in herbal teas.

But as long as you follow the instructions of your doctor, pharmacist or the package leaflet, you have nothing to fear. (5, 6)

Sugar substitute

A thick juice can be obtained from the leaves of the agave. This is used to sweeten food and drinks. As a sweetener, it is especially popular with vegans. (1, 7)

This sugar substitute has a high concentration of fructose and little glucose. This gives it a lower glycaemic index. For this reason, it can also be used by diabetics. (7)

Advantages
  • Healthy accompanying substances, such as minerals, trace elements and secondary plant substances
  • Higher sweetening power (9)
  • Fewer calories
  • Hardly any taste of its own
Disadvantages
  • Can only be grown in Central and South America - long transport distances
  • Large monocultures
  • High fructose content

Due to the increased fructose content, you should avoid agave in case of intolerance. In this case it could lead to increased uric acid production, metabolic syndrome and hypertriglyceridaemia. If you consume too much of it, it can also lead to digestive disorders. (7)

For the stomach

As the thick juice of the agave has antibiotic, anti-inflammatory and laxative effects, it is used in the treatment of stomach ulcers or bacterial infections. It supports the immune system in ridding the body of unwanted substances and pathogens. (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)

In general, agave syrup has a digestive regulating effect. For this purpose, the syrup can be taken either as a syrup or as a component of a finished preparation.

However, you should only take the syrup in moderation. Too much and you will get indigestion. (5, 7)

Agave syrup is also used as a detoxification cure. It has a diuretic effect, which means that harmful substances can be transported out of the body. (7)

For the bones

Agave has been shown to increase the calcium level in the blood. And as we all know, calcium is important for the bones. Thus, agave protects against osteoporosis. In this disease, the bones become brittle. It occurs mainly in older people.

For external use

Products obtained from agave are also often used for external application.

Agave creams are used, for example, for wounds, burns, skin fungus, warts and ulcers. It is also used for joint pain. This is because agave has a disinfecting, decongestant and pain-relieving effect. (3, 5, 6, 7)

What is agave syrup?

Agave syrup is a purely herbal sweetener obtained from the nectar of the desert plant of the same name.

Although there is normally a difference between syrup and thick juice, in relation to this product the two expressions are used as synonyms.

Syrup must be heated for production, thick juice can be obtained cold.

To make syrup, nectar is harvested from the fleshy leaves of the agave. This is heated and thickened until the viscous thick juice is produced. The more it is thickened, the darker the syrup becomes and the more caramel-like it tastes.

In colour and consistency, the finished product resembles honey or maple syrup. However, since this syrup is somewhat more liquid and cannot solidify, it is a very popular sweetener of food and drinks. (9)

What does agave syrup taste like?

Agave syrup has little flavour of its own. However, the more concentrated or darker the syrup is, the more it takes on a slight caramel note.

It is also sweeter than conventional sugar. This has the great advantage that you can use it more sparingly. (9)

Who is agave syrup suitable for?

Agave syrup or syrup is a good alternative to conventional sweeteners such as sugar. Agave is found in many diet products because it contains fewer calories than sugar. However, the fructose content is the same. (8)

Vegan

Agave syrup is also considered a purely plant-based sweetener. Therefore, it enjoys great popularity especially among vegans.

However, the motivation of the vegan is important here. Since the desert plant cannot grow naturally in our latitudes, it has to be cultivated in a greenhouse. This is rarely the case. Agave plantations are mainly found in Central America and South America.

This means that the agave syrup obtained has to be transported a long way. So even organic products contribute a large part to CO² emissions. In this case, regional honey or maple syrup offers a more environmentally friendly alternative.

Diabetics

As a sweetener, it also enjoys great popularity among diabetics. The reason for this is the relatively low glucose content.

However, the fructose content is the same as in other sweeteners. Therefore, you should pay special attention here. The amount of agave syrup should always be adjusted to the insulin.(8, 10, 11)

In addition, agave syrup in large quantities leads to flatulence and diarrhoea. So don't be under the misapprehension that syrup is much healthier than sugar. (1)

Users Advantage Disadvantage
Vegans Pure vegetable, easy to obtain Large CO² footprint
Diabetics Low glucose, Very sweet taste High fructose content, Laxative effect

(8, 10)

Thick juice is therefore a good alternative for many vegans and diabetics, while for others the disadvantages are too severe. You have to make this decision for yourself individually.

Which parts of the plant are processed by the agave?

The blue agave, or Agave Americana, is a desert plant. It lives for about 20 years. After only a few years, the fleshy leaves of the plant can be harvested regardless of the season.

Agaves have a very high sweetening power. This is higher than that of other sweeteners. That is why it is very popular with diabetics as well as vegans. (Image source: Unsplash / Above Clay Banks)

Here, you should always pick the outer leaves so as not to damage the core of the plant. This also allows the plant to thrive, so you can harvest new leaves.

The thick and spiny leaves contain a thick sap that is used for medicinal purposes. The stem itself is rarely used in folk medicine. Western medicine only uses the leaves. As you can see, the best active ingredients are often hidden in the most frightening plants.

What can I use agave syrup for?

Agave syrup can be used to sweeten all kinds of food. Whether it is for muesli, yoghurt, desserts or on bread instead of honey. It is even wonderfully suitable for salad dressings. The syrup sweetens everything. You can also use agave syrup for hot and cold drinks such as fruit juices, coffee or tea.

Is agave syrup suitable for baking?

Agave syrup is less suitable for baking. The dark colour of the syrup would discolour many a cake.

In addition, agave syrup is more liquid than honey or caramelised sugar. Therefore, the consistency of your baked goods is endangered by the use of the syrup.

However, there is also an agave sugar or powder that is more suitable for baking. This is white and has no flavour of its own.

Image source: liangchao / 123rf

References (11)

1. Wort & Bild Verlag Konradshöhe GmbH & Co. KG. 2016.
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2. Inkanatura import export SL. 2015.
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3. Misra, Arup Kumar; Varma, Sushil Kumar; Kumar, Ranjeet. 2018.
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4. Khan,M.T.J.; Ahmad, K.; Alvi, M.N.: Antibacterial and Irritant Activities of Organic Solvent Extracts of Agave americana Linn. 2010.
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5. Dr. phil. Utz Anhalt. 2020.
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6. Agoro Gesundheitsportal. 2020.
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7. Dipl.-Biol. Elke Löbel. 2018.
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8. Dornas WC, de Lima WG, Pedrosa ML, Silva ME. Adv Nutr. 2015.
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9. Phillips KM, Carlsen MH, Blomhoff R. 2009.
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10. Choi, H. K., Willett, W., & Curhan, G. 2010.
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11. Jamnik J, Rehman S, Blanco Mejia S, et al. 2016.
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Why you can trust me?

Die süßen Alternativen
Wort & Bild Verlag Konradshöhe GmbH & Co. KG. 2016.
Go to source
Die Agavenpflanze mit ihren vielen Eigenschaften
Inkanatura import export SL. 2015.
Go to source
Anti-inflammatory Effect of an Extract of Agave americana on Experimental Animals
Misra, Arup Kumar; Varma, Sushil Kumar; Kumar, Ranjeet. 2018.
Go to source
Antibacterial and Irritant Activities of Organic Solvent Extracts of Agave americana Linn., Albizzia lebbek Benth. Achyranthes aspera Linn. and Abutilon indicum Linn -A Preliminary Investigation
Khan,M.T.J.; Ahmad, K.; Alvi, M.N.: Antibacterial and Irritant Activities of Organic Solvent Extracts of Agave americana Linn. 2010.
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Agave – Inhaltsstoffe, Wirkung und Anwendung
Dr. phil. Utz Anhalt. 2020.
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Agave gegen Verstopfungen, Augenleiden und Rückenschmerzen
Agoro Gesundheitsportal. 2020.
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Agave
Dipl.-Biol. Elke Löbel. 2018.
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Health implications of high-fructose intake and current research
Dornas WC, de Lima WG, Pedrosa ML, Silva ME. Adv Nutr. 2015.
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Total antioxidant content of alternatives to refined sugar
Phillips KM, Carlsen MH, Blomhoff R. 2009.
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Fructose-rich beverages and risk of gout in women
Choi, H. K., Willett, W., & Curhan, G. 2010.
Go to source
Fructose intake and risk of gout and hyperuricemia: a systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. BMJ Open
Jamnik J, Rehman S, Blanco Mejia S, et al. 2016.
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