Our modern diet often comes up short on nutrition, which is renewing interest in ancient, traditional foods. Agave is the fashionable rediscovered food of the moment. But is this fashionable food all hype?
The ancient agave, known as the century plant, has been a cornerstone a native cultures in Mexico, Central America and the southwestern US for generations. Though often misidentified as a cactus, agave is instead a succulent, with thick, fleshy leaves that store water. It is slow-growing and thrives in arid, desert areas, but it takes eight to 10 years — or more — to flower.
Though it has many non-food uses, only the flowers, sap and juice of the agave are consumed, and their benefits have become legend including:
- A healthy sweetener
- Weight control, diabetes and more
- Probiotic properties
When buying agave products, make sure to look for those that are minimally refined. Also, look for 100 percent agave sweeteners. Just because a product has some agave, doesn’t mean it isn’t loaded with unhealthy sweeteners as well.
Dr. Barbara Smith