Agave Nectar use as Sweetener and Production

The Agave plant is predominantly grown in South Africa and in Mexico and has been used to produce that is used as a sweetener in the same manner as and . Health pundits have touted the health benefits of the although the research is inconclusive.

Agave is commercially produced from several different species of Agave, predominantly blue Agave (Agave Tequilana) and Agave Salmiana. The and Mexico came to an agreement that only blue Agave would be used in Tequila production. The product consists of a that is , has a thinner consistency and flows more freely.

The production of Agave involves cutting leaves from the plant after the plant has aged seven to fourteen years. The juice is then extracted from the core of the agave, called the piña.

The juice is filtered and heated to separate the complex components into simple sugars. The main polysaccharide is called inulin or fructosan and is mostly . This filtered juice is then concentrated to a syrupy liquid, slightly thinner than honey. Its color varies from light- to dark-amber, depending on the degree of processing.

Agave salmiana is processed differently than Agave tequiliana. As the plant develops, it starts to grow a stalk called a quiote. The stalk is cut off before it fully grows, creating a hole in the center of the plant that fills with a liquid called aguamiel. The liquid is collected daily. The complex components of this liquid are broken down into and dextrose.

A United States patent has been developed for a process that uses enzymes derived from the mold Aspergillus niger to break down the Agave polyfructose extract into .

The Agave consists primarily of and glucose. One source gives 92% and 8% glucose; another gives 56% and 20% glucose. These differences probably reflect variation from one vendor of agave to another.

Agave has a lower glycemic index than sugar and is comparable to , but since it is sweeter it often used as a sugar and substitute. Studies in general have detected no differences in the health impact of Agave compared to or other sweeteners.


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