The Secret Ingredient Part 1: Keep it Short & Sweet

A healthy happy lifestyle is all about choices; choosing to surround yourself with loving people; choosing to see the good and if necessary, to help make things better; choosing to keep active, and perhaps most importantly; choosing which foods to put into your body. 
There is a saying: with every bite of food you are either feeding disease or fighting it. 
While for our taste this sentiment is a little extreme (our stomachs are not a battleground), nutrition does play a major role in our overall health. That is why we are committed to using food that heals & tastes delicious. Food that makes you healthy & happy! In this ongoing series we will explain the rationale behind our choice of ingredients. In this post we discuss the sweet stuff!
We all know now that sugar is not our friend. It can have harmful effects on metabolism and contribute to all sorts of diseases. (http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/86/4/899.short). 
And, just because a food is labeled “vegan” or “organic” does not immediately mean it is good for you. Many vegan branded cookies, cakes, dressing, and meals are loaded with “organic” sugars including pure, refined, cane, unrefined, evaporated, brown, and most misleading of all agave nectar! 
This is what we have been able to round up about agave by reading through various published studies and expert blogs.
First off:

The sweetener sold as Agave nectar is NOT truly “nectar” – it is a refined, processed sweetener made from Agave nectar.

Agave in its highly processed form consists of undesirable chemical reactions that involve free radicals… that is, molecules with unstable electrons. This process destroys all of the health promoting properties of the Agave plant, and instead produces the concentrated syrup available on store shelves that is falsely claimed to be healthy. The manufacturing process is similar to how other unhealthy sweeteners are made, such as High Fructose Corn Syrup.
The end product is a highly refined, unhealthy syrup. Agave nectar is about 85% fructose, which is much higher than plain sugar  (source http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/jf3027342)
The only good kind of processed agave is the fermented kind aka TEQUILA! 
Even good old jump on the bandwagon Dr. OZ recounted his recommendation on agave:
"Over the past few months, I’ve become increasingly concerned about a sweetener that I’ve recommended on my show in the past. After careful consideration of the available research, today I’m asking you to eliminate agave from your kitchen and your diet. Here’s why.
We used to think that because agave has a low-glycemic index and doesn’t spike your blood sugar like regular sugar does, it would be a good alternative for diabetics. But it turns out that although agave doesn’t contain a lot of glucose, it contains more fructose than any other common sweetener, including high-fructose corn syrup. Initially, we thought moderate amounts of fructose weren’t unhealthy, but now we know better."
At Rejuice, the only non whole food sweeteners we use are Maple Syrup & Raw Unpasteurized Honey. 
Why? Because honey and maple syrup are minimally refined – what you buy is pretty close to what you’d find in nature. And these 2 are loaded with nutritional benefits and when used in small amounts are healthy alternatives to agave and other processed sweeteners. 
Honey:
Honey naturally contains nutrients and enzymes that have a variety of health benefits and medical uses. Perhaps that’s why it has been used as a folk remedy throughout history. However, these health benefits are specific to unpasteurized honey.
Raw honey contains antioxidants called phenolic compounds. Some types of honey have as many antioxidants as fruits and vegetables. Antioxidants help to protect your body from cell damage due to free radicals (found in agave).
Phytonutrients provide both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits, which help you maintain good health. Because honey is made from plants, it also has phytonutrients. These valuable nutrients are unique to raw honey and disappear when honey is heavily processed. 
Maple Syrup:
When used in appropriate amounts, maple syrup's nutritional benefits can include the ability to lower inflammation, supply nutrients and better manage blood sugar. 
Several studies have found that maple syrup is a decent source of antioxidants. One study found 24 different antioxidant substances in maple syrup  (http://cfs.nrcan.gc.ca/publications?id=28297 ) Antioxidants are substances that can neutralize free radicals and reduce oxidative damage, potentially lowering the risk of some diseases.
Rejuice Recommendation: Agave is best shot in a bar, with good friends, preferably while celebrating the opening of the new hot yoga studio down the street. 
#behappybehealthy

 

 



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