The Perfect 10 Diet FaceBook discussions have yielded a lot of great information, along with a lot of great questions. To lend more detail to those topics that seem to be of a great deal of interest to P10'ers, we'll be posting information from Dr. Aziz on those topics regularly here on the blog.
One such issue that has been raised again and again over on the Perfect 10 Diet Facebook page is that of the safety of agave nectar. What is agave nectar? Agave nectar is a honey-colored liquid that is considerably sweeter than sugar. It is gluten-free and low in the glycemic index so it is marketed as diabetic-friendly sweetner. However, there is some controversy that agave can be dangerous, and that it acts as a high-fructose corn syrup.
We asked Dr. Aziz to shed some light on agave nectar for us, and he did!
"I'll explain the controversy. Agave nectar has a low-glycemic index for one reason only: It's largely made of fructose, so it has minimal impact on insulin-the fat-storing hormone," says Dr. Aziz. "In large quantities, fructose is a very damaging form of sugar. Agave nectar has the highest fructose content of any commercial sweetener. All sugars (table sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, maple syrup) contain some mixture of fructose and glucose. Table sugar is 50/50, HFCS is 55/45. Agave nectar is a at 90 percent fructose."
Is fructose bad? "No," says Dr. Aziz, "Fructose, the sugar found naturally in fruits -- is perfectly fine when you get it from natural sources. But when it's commercially extracted from fruits, it is in a concentrated form. Fructose can be damaging in excess as it can cause insulin resistance and has a negative effect on cholesterol. The controversy is: fructose found in the agave plant is natural, but when extracted, the fructose becomes concentrated, and therefore can be very damaging."
So, what is Dr. Aziz's advice when it comes to using commercially-extracted agave nectar? "If you need a sweetener for use at high temperatures, a small amount of agave nectar once in a while isn't going to harm you or kill you. You can also use plain sugar, honey, or maple syrup but all of these types of sugar will have a negative impact on insulin and should be used moderately ,and in small amounts. Stevia is a perfectly acceptable sweetener on the Perfect 10 Diet, and is recommended for use when high temperature cooking will not be involved."
If you have a question for Dr. Aziz, please leave it here in the comments, or post to the Perfect 10 Diet FaceBook page, or on Twitter. We'll be posting answers to your Perfect 10 Diet questions both here and over at FaceBook, so check back regularly!