Many of us are avoiding sugar these days, but why give up enjoying sweet foods? Unlike white sugar and honey, our natural sweeteners have a very low glycemic index, meaning there’s no spiking of your blood sugar level. Not only are they delicious (ranging from sweet and smooth to rich and complex), they’re great for diabetics or anyone wanting to avoid the blood-sugar crash associated with sweet foods.
The name agave comes from the Greek word for 'noble.' Organic agave syrup (and tequila) is made from the sap from hearts (piñas) of the agave or maguey (pronounced 'mah-gay') plant. This plant is actually related to the lily and amaryllis (but it has its own genus, Agave). It is known as a succulent, and, although it shares a common habitat with many cacti, it is not one itself and has a different life cycle. A mature agave has leaves 5-8 feet tall, and is 7-12 feet in diameter. It has a lifespan of 8-15 years, depending on species, growing conditions and climate.
There are 136 species of agave in Mexico, of which the blue agave ― Agave tequilana weber azul ― is the only one allowed for use in tequila production and also the only agave used to make Essential Living Foods's Premium Agave Syrup. Blue agave is higher in fructose-producing carbohydrates than other types of agave and is considered to be the finest agave in the world. Several different species of agave are allowed for use in the production of mescal, an alcohol similar to, yet quite different than tequila. These other species of agave are also used to make most agave syrups, including Essential Living Foods's Standard Agave Syrups.
Organic agave syrup is a natural product that can sweeten any type of beverage or food. It is derived from the carbohydrates present in the agave plant through a totally natural thermic (heat) process with nochemicals involved. To produce organic agave syrup, juice is expressed from the core of the agave (the piña). The juice is then selected to become dark agave syrup or is filtered to create a light agave syrup.
The unfiltered dark liquid contains many minerals and retains a natural and unique flavor, with a slight hint of a vanilla-like
aroma. The light has the natural solids removed through a fine filtration process, creating a liquid that can be used in recipes that require a more neutral base that can be colored.
As with the creation of all agave syrups, the light and dark liquids are then heated, causing thermic hydrolysis which breaks down the carbohydrates into sugars. The main carbohydrate is a complex form of fructose called inulin or fructosan. The filtered juice is concentrated to a syrup-like liquid a little thinner than honey.
Fructose is a simple sugar found mainly in fruits and vegetables. Due to the predominance of fructose in Essential Living Foods's agave syrup, our organic agave syrup is much sweeter than sucrose but has the same caloric value as sucrose (table sugar). Thus, a smaller amount yields the same sweetness but fewer calories than sucrose. This gives agave syrup advantages in both the food industry and the health of the consumer.
Essential Living Foods procures organic agave syrup from both the Blue Agave (Premium Agave Syrup) and Salmiana, Green, Grey, Thorny, and Rainbow varieties (Standard Agave Syrup). Both of these grades are available as Dark and Light syrups. Essential Living Foods's Premium Organic Agave Syrups contain naturally higher concentrations of fructose than our Standard Syrups and other agave syrups on the market, a result of using our premium Blue Agave plants and precise processing techniques. Our farmers in Mexico use HPLC to make chromatographic studies on sugars, monitoring closely the mineral and sugar concentrations of our agave syrups – the best available in the market.
Organic Yacón Syrup
It takes a lot for us to get excited by a sweetener, but this is a very big deal: For the first time in the natural products world, you can get a certified organic, low carb, low glycemic sweetener—all in one. There’s never been a product to combine all three of these qualities. But now there is…
It’s called Yacón Syrup, and it comes from an ancient root that grows in the highlands of Peru.
The news about Yacón syrup is thrilling to many others besides us here at Essential Living Foods. The research on its nutritional profile and health properties proves it to be one of the few sweeteners that are actually a superfood. (By “superfood,” we mean foods with extraordinary nutrition and health benefits.)
How Yacón Syrup Is Made
Our Yacón comes from highlands in Peru, a very pure region with incredibly nutrient-rich soil. Only the finest roots are selected for processing into syrup. First, the roots are harvested, washed, crushed and milled. All raw juices are squeezed out and then captured in tanks. At this point, the Yacon juice is also sent through mechanical filters to remove any fiber particles. Next, the Yacón juice is spilled into a vacuum evaporator to remove any excess water. This evaporation process transforms it into a thick, dark syrup.It takes 14 pounds of fresh Yacón roots to make one pound of syrup.
This product is created in a state-of-the-art, USDA/NOP certified facility that handles no chemicals or contaminants.
Health Benefits of Yacón
Few sweeteners combine the taste, nutrition and health benefits you find in Yacón syrup. It delivers excellent quantities of potassium and adds some calcium and magnesium as well. Yacon also offers a moderate amount of antioxidants—including vitamins A, C and E. Experts believe that Yacon is also the world’s richest natural source of FOS (Fructo-oliosaccharrides). Most other roots and tubers store carbohydrates as starch – a polymer of glucose. But Yacon stores carbohydrate as FOS – a polymer composed mainly of fructose.
Most roots and tubers store carbohydrates as starch – a polymer of glucose; yacon stores carbohydrates as fructooligosacaride (FOS) – a polymer composed mainly of fructose. Dried yacon root powder contains 50-70% (dry basis) FOS and low proportion of simple sugars (e.g., glucose, fructose and sucrose). The human body has no enzyme to hydrolyze FOS, so it passes through the digestive tract unmetabolized, providing few calories and few net carbs. This makes Yacón ideal for anyone concerned with managing healthy blood sugar levels.
Yacón also acts as a prebiotic. The undigested portion of yacón serves as food for “friendly” bacteria, such as bifidobacteria and lactobacillus species, in the colon. Clinical studies have shown that administering FOS (also referred to as inulin) can increase the number of these friendly bacteria in the colon while simultaneously reducing the population of harmful bacteria.
Other benefits noted with FOS supplementation include increased production of beneficial short-chain fatty acids such as butyrate, increased absorption of calcium and magnesium, and improved elimination of toxic compounds. Preclinical studies indicate an increase in bone density after consumption of FOS. In addition, the beneficial effects of FOS on the presence of bifidobacteria suggest an improved absorption of vitamins (such as the B complexes) and minerals (like calcium).
And unlike most Stevia, xylitol and Lo han, our Yacón is certified organic.
This pure and simple cane sugar alternative is produced from the sweet juices of tropical coconut palm sugar blossoms. Traditional sugar farmers climb high into the canopy of swaying coconuts and harvest the sweet nectar by gently slicing the flower. Once collected, the nectars are kettle-boiled into a thick caramel and ground to a fine crystal. Coconut sugar has long been a staple for south East Asian culinary heritage and herbal medicine.
- Low-Glycemic (GI 35). By comparison, most commercial Honeys are GI 55 and Cane Sugars are GI 68.
- Nutritional content far richer than all other commercially available sweeteners.
- Rich in Potassium, Magnesium, Zinc and Iron and is a natural source of the vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6 and C.
- 100% Organic, unprocessed, unfiltered, and unbleached natural sweetener. And contains no preservatives.
Source and Processing
This coconut sugar is produced by smallholder farmers. 100% of the money from growing, harvesting and primary processing of this ingredient stays in the local community. Through market access and production training, smallholder sugar tappers have risen well above the poverty line and are able to earn an increase in personal income of close to 200%, while maintaining a competitive market price as a cane sugar alternative! The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the World Bank has reported that palm sweeteners like this coconut sugar are the single most sustainable sweetener in the world! Tropical palms are an ecologically beneficial tree crop that grows in diverse, wild-life supportive agro-ecosystems, restore damaged soils and require very little water.