A Teaspoon of Agavin


Dave, we both enjoy a good margarita, especially one made with high quality agave tequila. I do, but did you know the same plant used to make it also produces a sweetener? It's called agavin and researchers believe it may lower blood sugar levels and help people maintain a healthy weight.

That sounds like a contradiction but isn't because agavin adds no calories. It comes from the agave plant, which is also used to make agave nectar. Unlike agavin, the nectar has calories and raises blood sugar.

Agavin is a natural form of the sugar fructose called a fructan. This is the key difference. With fructan, the individual sugar molecules are linked together in long chains which make it a non-digestible dietary fiber that won't raise blood sugar levels but does have a sweet flavor. But the agave nectar has fructan that has been broken down into individual fructoses, like high fructose corn syrup, that the body can use, raising blood glucose levels and contributing to diabetes.

When scientists added agavin to the water of obese mice with type 2 diabetes, the mice ate less and had lower blood sugar. The mice also had increased insulin as well as a hormone called GLP-1.

This hormone slowed digestion helping them feel fuller, so they ate less, lost weight, and had lower blood sugar levels compared with mice given other sugars and even aspartame. These studies need to be verified by human trials to look at the long term consequences of eating agavin. The only known downside to this sweetener is that it's not as sweet, but its benefits could make eating a lot more fun for diabetics.

More Information

Tequila Plant Is Possible Sweetener for Diabetics ' Helps Reduce Blood Sugar, Weight
"Indoor cigarette smoke combines with air pollutants to form compounds that might cause cancer'and that can linger for decades A sweetener created from the plant used to make tequila could lower blood glucose levels for the 26 million Americans and others worldwide who have type 2 diabetes and help them and the obese lose weight..."

Plant Sugar May Prove to be Healthy Sweetener
"Agavins, natural sugars derived from the stem of the agave plant, reduced weight and blood sugar in mice prone to diet-induced obesity and type 2 diabetes, according to researchers from Mexico."

How Is Tequila Made
"You might be a tequila drinker, but chances are you are not a true tequila aficionado. The difference? Anyone can drink tequila, but not everyone knows what it takes to make it."