Today’s installment comes to you via another client inquiry. She saw me mix honey with my Greek Yogurt after a workout and asked if using Agave would be better/healthier. In all honesty, I didn’t know the answer. But guess what? I do now!
So fans…Let’s get ready to rumble! In one corner we have the sweetener extracted from the insect carrying the same name that my Mom calls me. The B. Or, in this case…the Bee. We have the light and fluid Honey.
In the other corner, the Sweetener from South of the Border that comes from the spikey plant resembling a cactus, is Agave Nectar.
So what’s the Tale of the Tape?
Before I delve into the health benefits of Agave Nectar, let me first explain the benefits of good ol’ Bee Honey.
Because of its antioxidant and anti-bacterial properties, honey, when mixed with a spoonful of lemon juice (from a half a lemon) and a cup of warm water, drank before breakfast, helps the digestive system work more efficiently.
It is also know to have the ability to fight carcinogens and prevent tumors. It has been used to heat cuts and burns, help alleviate hangovers, sooth sore throats and, when milked with hot milk or chamomile tea, it can even induce sleep and improve the complexion of one’s skin!
Honey is also easier to digest than sugar or sugar substitutes. Thus, for purposes more directed towards fitness, since Honey gets converted into glucose more easily than sugar (a good thing for Body Designers), it is a perfect choice when your are looking for an instant improvement in athletic performance or workout recovery. Furthermore, even though one teaspoon has 64 calories, compared to 15 calories in a tablespoon of sugar, when consumed with warm water – during digestion – the body’s fat stores reduce more quickly.
The health benefits of Agave Nectar on the other hand are, like its flavor, more subtle than those of Honey. Agave is gluten and allergen free and it is lower on glycemic index than Honey and other sweeteners; a good thing for diabetics. Thus, it will not accelerate the body’s production of insulin and cause sudden blood sugar spikes. Agave is also certified to be organic and kosher as well as vegan (as it comes from plants). Many claim that, as Honey does, Agave also aids in digestion, improves bone density and boosts one’s immune system.
However, its flavor is similar to caramel or toffee and dissolves smoothly in cold, as well as hot beverages. And because it is less vicious than honey, but sweeter, you can use less (saving those calories) and still satisfy that sweet tooth.
So, which Natural Sweetener should you choose. Well, you know me…I am all about, “What’s the goal?” If you have allergies to gluten or are concerned about spiking your insulin level, the answer is obvious…Agave. However, if you are looking to improve your performance in the gym, recover quicker from a tough workout or get a more restful sleep…reach for the Honey.
Most importantly my friends, the use of one doesn’t negate the ability to use the other. While both can enhance the sweet flavor of your favorite beverage or “dessert”, choose the one that your satisfies the sweet tooth that’s nagging you at the time.
Sorry fans, it looks like a draw!
There ain’t gonna be no rematch!