Agave nectar side effects are more common than most consumers believe. Agave nectar has been promoted as a safe, all-natural sweetener and a great alternative to sugar. It doesn't raise blood glucose levels as dramatically as high fructose corn syrup, cane sugar or honey, and can be used in many recipes. There are, however, some agave nectar side effects you should be aware of and note. If you experience any side effects and believe them to be from agave, discontinue use. Sudden allergic reactions that include trouble breathing, swollen lips or tongue, or a rash call for immediate medical attention.
Overview of Agave Nectar Side Effects
Agave nectar is the sap from the agave plant. There are over 130 types of agave that grow wild throughout the southwestern United States and throughout central America. Agave is a succulent, and like aloe vera, the sap and juice are used for many purposes. Agave sap is called agave nectar. It can be used with minimal processing to sweeten foods, or fermented and transformed into alcoholic beverages such as tequila.
Although agave nectar has been used as a sweetener for a long time, it is not without side effects. Any herb or food can cause side effects. Just because something is marketed as all-natural doesn't mean it is side effect free. Consider how many innocuous foods people can be allergic to: peanuts, shellfish, chocolate, dairy products. All of these are quite natural yet cause mild to severe allergies and even death from anaphylactic shock if one is allergic enough. If you are using agave nectar for the first time, use a little and note any side effects that may occur.
Diabetic Side Effects
By far the most troubling and controversial side effects were noted in human clinical trials conducted by the Glycemic Research Institute. The group halted a five-year clinical study on the use of agave as a sweetener among diabetics due to unforeseen complications in insulin levels among diabetics taking agave syrup. It appeared that the agave syrup stimulated an insulin response despite the many claims to the contrary. The group advises diabetics, people who have trouble regulating blood glucose levels, and anyone who may be at risk from metabolic syndrome or prediabetes to avoid agave syrup since it has no better affect on blood sugar levels than plain old sugar.
Many users reporting on various forums and bulletin boards claim that agave produced unpleasant side effects. The traditional herbal use for agave as a laxative may explain why some people experience stomach problems ranging from diarrhea to upset stomach. If stomach problems are an issue, use less agave or discontinue use.
Another dangerous side effect of agave is the potential for miscarriage in pregnant women. Agave contains high amounts of saponins, a naturally occurring chemical that can stimulate blood flow. It has the potential to stimulate blood flow to the uterus and cause miscarriages.
Use Caution and Common Sense
Everyone is searching for the magic dietary sweetener that tastes great, contains zero calories and is perfectly safe to use. Unfortunately, such a sweetener doesn't exist. While agave is relatively safe it comes with certain potential side effects and health risks that consumers need to be aware of and note if they occur. Like all foods, agave has the potential to cause an allergic reaction, and can cause side effects among sensitive people or if taken in excess. Use it sparingly until you are sure of your body's unique reaction to agave. If you need an alternative to sugar and do not wish to consume artificial sweeteners, try stevia, another herbal sweetener.