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more thoughts about agave

Robyn Openshaw, MSW - May 19, 2010 - This Post May Contain Affiliate Links

As if we haven’t done this subject to death.

From the consensus of many people commenting on my blog about Mercola coming out against agave, it looks to be about 50/50. People who’ve had a positive experience with that product, versus people who’ve had a negative experience. The only ways I can explain this are (a) we are all individuals, with varying reactions to the same foods, and (b) wide variability in sources.

I went to visit my friend Francine last week and grilled her more. She owns a thriving female hormone clinic called Wellnique in Orem, Utah, specializing in bio-identical hormones. (This keeps women off synthetics like Cytomel and Synthroid, which is a very good thing.) She is a licensed nurse practitioner (requiring an M.S.) and nutritionist. Here is the gist of our conversation:

Robyn: “Francine, you’ve told me that you have Type II diabetics in remission from making no other changes in diet besides switching from sugar to agave. You know there’s a lot of debate right now about various types of agave, and inferior suppliers, and whether agave really has less blood sugar impact.”

Francine: “I absolutely have had amazing results with GOOD agave. When my patients have used the cheap stuff, they gain weight. But with the Xagave brand, which is raw and organic, and they are very involved in their sourcing, I have had tremendous success.

“I often read studies about various things and try them in my clinical practice. If I don’t get the results in my patients that studies guarantee, I’m not going to use it.

“For instance, some studies show that alpha lipoic acid supplementation combats visceral (belly) fat. But I have yet to see any evidence of that in my patients. So I don’t recommend it any more. I want the science AND the positive results in my patients.”

Let me be clear here (Robyn writing): sugars impact your blood sugar, period. Organic and raw from a reputable company like Madhava, GloryBee, Xagave are the ONLY forms of agave I would suggest, and use them sparingly. Let greens and vegetables be the staples of your diet.

Use fruits/dates for the most part when you want sweets. Consider the concentrated sweeteners if you choose not to give up “treats” that remind you of your comfort foods–and not every day. I eat a treat only on occasion after a very healthy (raw or mostly raw, often probiotic-rich) meal.

Posted in: Nutrition, Whole Food

13 thoughts on “more thoughts about agave”

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Hey Robyn,

    Love your blog and site! I was wondering when you will be doing a coop again on agave! I’m really looking forward to this!

  2. Anonymous says:

    I appreciate you clarifying which brands you trust. I think that’s what most people are concerned about — how on earth can we know which brands are the good ones? I’m mostly convinced now. I’d be even more convinced if next time you did a humanitarian mission, you stopped in at the factories where these brands are made to see for yourself exactly what is involved in the process.

    1. Robyn Openshaw, MSW says:

      I am going to try to find a way to do that, Katie, if they have agave factories in Ecuador and Peru, which is where I think we’re going this fall . . .

  3. Anonymous says:

    is the agave sold at costco ok robyn?

    1. Robyn Openshaw, MSW says:

      I believe it is organic but not raw. It looks processed to me, although I haven’t researched that company. I’m skeptical.

  4. Hi Robin,

    I love your blog. Thanks for your due diligence and good work. I wanted to share this with you about Wholesome Sweeteners Organic Blue Agaves:

    Many thanks.

  5. I will also recommend the agave and vanilla agave from Sunfire Superfoods by David and Yemiah Favor. I have personally met them and use their products. Amazing results! Love it! Such amazing people too!

  6. Thanks Robyn for helping to clarify this hugely debatable topic on agave.

    Just an FYI: With regards to Madhava, they no longer sell raw agave. I run an organic co-op group in our town and we bought raw agave from them for years until last spring when their supplier stopped producing raw agave. We tried their (slightly) processed agave to test it out, but it wasn’t the same. Taste-wise it was great, but internally several members felt different (myself included). We much preferred their raw agave.

    In the meantime, it led me to research other vendors for raw, organic agave. We found Wilderness Family Naturals and it’s great! Thought I’d mention it in case you weren’t aware of them. 🙂

  7. Anonymous says:

    Hi Robin,

    I’m just getting into green smoothies. Getting my Vitamix blender next week (so exciting). I’m enjoying reading your blog.

    I have a question for you re: xylitol. You are the first person I’ve heard say it is not good. I switched a few months ago to xylitol and I like it. I always found stevia left a bad aftertaste and I just didn’t enjoy using it.

    Based on what “everyone” (Mercola included) is saying these days about how sugar is what is killing us, I thought Xylitol was a great answer. Unlike all the other natural options (honey, agave, etc) it does not affect your blood sugar.

    A positive side effect has also been my oral health. I used to have a lot of plaque. Even though I am very diligent about oral hiegene I had to have my teeth cleaned every 4 months. Since switching to a more natural toothpaste with xylitol and using xylitol in place of sugar (ie. in my coffee) my plaque is almost non existent. Even my hygienist is amazed at the difference.

    I am curious what your reason(s) are for not approving of it?

    On a separate note, I’m also curious what your reasons are for disliking soy? I realize not all soy products are created equal (water processed vs. alcohol processed for one) but there seems to be so much information on the healthy aspects of it (ie. its cancer fighting isoflavons).

    The Asian diet has contained soy for centuries and they do not seem adversely affected by it – in fact they have some of the lowest cancer rates. Dr. Weil says it’s good, you and Dr. Mercola say “no” … all the conflicting information is very frustrating.


    1. Robyn Openshaw, MSW says:

      Trina, see my 12 Myths about soy. Small amounts of whole-food, fermented soy products (like they eat in Asia) are good. Soy isolates in virtually everything? Bad.

      I am still researching xylitol.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I just received this link in an email and thought it went with my previous comment/question:

    Looking forward to your comments!

  9. Anonymous says:

    Hi, I was researching agave and ended up reading about soy, which I think is interesting. I’m Asian (born in raised in Chicago) and my diet probably contains a lot more soy than non-Asians. I love soy, I think it’s wonderfully healthy, etc etc. However, I think when a lot of non-Asians incorporate “miracle” foods from other cultures, it doesn’t quite work because they take the food out of that culture’s greater nutritional context. Meaning, I don’t think you can just take tofu, pop it in your diet and have quite the same results as a Japanese woman overseas. For example, I just read an article about soy that stated soy is customarily consumed in Asian diets with seaweed — which Americans typically do not eat. The iodine content in seaweed is important and higher in Asian diets than American diets. So you may not be accomplishing what you think you’re accomplishing simply by increasing your soy intake. Bottom line for me is context, context, context. Like everything in life. Also, I do believe Robyn is right when she points to the quantity of soy in an Asian diet. It’s there and much loved but it’s not guzzled or eaten in great amounts — but then, not much is. A good Asian diet (as there are bad ones) is very balanced. So eat your seaweed, sea vegetables, a little fish, and brown rice, too! Good luck, everyone. Now I’m off again to find reasonably priced agave.

  10. Anonymous says:

    I would love to know about the Wholesome Agave sold at Costco too? If you research it, please let me know.

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