The leaves of agave plants are used to produce agave nectar, which is often substituted for sugar in foods Photograph by Hspauldi/Flickr
Sales patter often leads calorie-conscious individuals to buy into “healthier” substitutes for various foods including sugar. Agave nectar is being promoted as a more wholesome replacement for sugar and is widely used to sweeten desserts, coffees, juices, smoothies and even cocktails.
Agave nectar is produced from agave plant juice, which is more famous as the most important ingredient in tequila (made from the Agave tequilana plant). Mumbai-based nutritionist Pooja Makhija explains that both agave nectar, which includes fructose, and table sugar, which is made up of sucrose, are equal on the calorific scale. “Companies try to sell sugar substitutes with added minerals, but if you want minerals, eat more fruits and vegetables,” says Makhija, “Everyone tries to get sweetness back into their lives, but ultimately the calories are the same.”
You don’t need that cookie or ice cream in your diet. Photograph by Yesica/Flickr
Makhija adds that popular sugar substitutes such as jaggery, brown sugar, demerara sugar and maple syrup all measure up as equals on a diet chart if you’re trying to cut down calories from your diet. In fact, Makhija endorses eliminating all kinds of added sugar from your diet. All kinds of sweet treats be it in the form of cakes or chocolates or ice creams or biscuits or processed juices are absolutely unnecessary kinds of sugar in your diet. “All the sugar that you need comes from the roti, dal, rice or meat that you eat,” says the nutritionist, “It’s all broken down into sugar and you really don’t need any added sugar. You just have to ensure that you eat small meals every two hours to ensure that the body’s blood sugar levels are maintained.”