What is agave syrup?
Agave syrup, also known as the slightly more whimsical "agave nectar," is a sweetener processed from the agave plant. A lot of good, low-cal tequila also comes from the agave plant, so it can't be that bad, right?
Well, it's a pretty long road from the beautiful blue plant to your grocery store. Juice is extracted from the agave leaves, filtered, and heated to break the carbohydrates down into sugar. The remaining substance is a thick, syrupy liquid (slightly thinner than honey), ranging in color from light straw to dark molasses. To make it sound even healthier, agave is sometimes marketed as a raw food because it's heated under 188 degrees Fahrenheit. (It's also marketed as being gluten-free, which, duh.) Agave syrup is sold commercially as a sweetener, and used by consumers mostly for beverages like coffee, smoothies, and cocktails.
Why do people think it's healthy?
Like hemp protein and gluten-free anything, agave is one of those staples you'll find in your weird cousin's fridge next to the green juice and almond milk. It earned this reputation because agave is low on the glycemic index (GI), meaning it doesn't spike and drop your blood sugar as quickly as, say, white sugar. It was even thought to be a better option for diabetics, and at one point was given the green light by doctors and nutrition experts as a healthier sugar alternative.