Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Agave Nectar vs. Honey....

What someone new to the world of raw food may be wondering - what is the difference? Which one should I use? Is one sweeter than the other? Do I use them in the same amounts? Is one more healthy than the other?

This is my experience using these two sweeteners in raw food preparation:

Before I start with the comparisons, I would like to note that the optimal way to use these is in a raw, organic state. Cooked sugars react differently in a body just as all cooked foods do.

Buying raw agave nectar and raw or uncooked honey is your best bet. Honey may need to state "unheated" or "heated at low temperatures" as often the honey needs to be warmed for processing, but not cooked. Buying them organic whenever possible will insure that there are no pesticides or chemicals in your product.

Agave Nectar

Agave nectar is a very fluid, very sweet, clean tasting sweetener. It tastes just like cotton candy to me. It will not overpower a recipe, or give it a heavy rich flavor. It's purpose is solely to sweeten, just as you'd use sugar. However, agave nectar is extremely sweet so you may find that you do not need to use quite as much as you would honey or regular white sugar. You may only need to use three-fourths the amount of agave nectar than you would honey.

What I particularly like about agave nectar is that it can be stirred into cold liquid without it hardening, it dissolves almost immediately. It also is not sticky like honey is. According to the Madhava company, agave nectar has a lower glycemic index, so it can be used by those with sugar related problems more than other sweeteners, like honey or sugar.

More information on Agave Nectar:


Honey is an age-old sweetener, used for thousands of years. Honey has a rich full bodied flavor. Since it will harden when cold, it is great to use in frozen recipes or puddings which require a thick, dense result. It is wonderful in certain ethnic recipes when used with heavier spices and seasonings.

I often use honey when making hot tea as I find it more soothing than agave nectar. I have used it many times to sooth a sore throat.

I like to buy my honey locally. There are a couple of sources near me that I find have excellent quality. This is a brand I often use, which is heated at low temps:

I also use "Really Raw Honey" from un-local sources which is a thick creamed-like honey in a wide mouthed jar which is scooped out. I have often used this medicinally.

Here is more information on honey:

As far as if one is healthier than the other - I tend to think that honey is a whole, natural food while agave nectar is more of an extracted product. The agave nectar I use states "100% pure agave" and "not heated above 115". I have read on many medicinal benefits of honey, but not of agave nectar.

I personally do not regularly eat honey or agave nectar straight to promote health other than using honey for a sore throat on a few occassions. So I find that one is not "healthier" than the other - rather they are both useful as sweeteners.

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