We have been through the low-fat craze and now are in the low-sugar phase of nutrient advice.
Since 2009 when the American Heart Association recommended an upper limit for daily added sugar intake at no more than 100 kcal for women (about 6 teaspoons) and 150 kcal (about 9 teaspoons) for men, products have begun lowering sugar. This is actually a good thing.
With sugar being sort of a villain, how are we supposed to get our sweet fix and not feel guilty? This is where agave nectar comes into play. It is seen as a healthier, more acceptable sugar or sweetener choice.
Why? Well, actually, I am not sure why.
Agave comes from a plant and is processed into agave nectar, and sugar comes from a plant and is processed into white sugar. They seem similar. Both are caloric sweeteners that come from a plant and are then processed into a usable sweetener. I actually do like agave nectar -- it has a nice clean flavor and is great to add to beverages if you want a touch of sweetness. What I dislike is the “health hallo” that surrounds agave nectar. Here is a great article from WebMD that sheds a bit more light on agave nectar.
Regardless of which sweetener you choose, remember to minimize use.
Since sugar has been cast out as unhealthy, other non-caloric sweeteners have been introduced into the market. Stevia is a non-caloric natural sweetener (again, from a plant and processed). This is not new but it is being mixed with a few other things like erythritol (a sugar alcohol) and is now being sold in the mainstream section of the grocery store versus just the “health food section." I like Stevia and think it is a great alternative to the other more “artificial-type sweeteners."
However, when checking out the aisle the other day, I noticed Nectresse. Nectresse is made from monk fruit (a green melon native to the mountains of Central Asia). This sweetener uses an extract of monk fruit. It is combined with erythritol, sugar and molasses. Each packet contains two grams of carbohydrate. Up to two packets is considered a free food on the diabetes meal plan. It can be used for cooking, and as with other sweeteners, it is best combined with sugar for baking. I have also tried this and the flavor seems nice and with a clean finish.
I must admit that I enjoy having options in the sweetener aisle of the grocery store. Moderation is always key in food consumption and choices are definitely nice.
Until next time: eat well, live well.