Can I Give My Baby Agave Nectar?

Can I give my baby agave nectarAgave nectar may provide a pretty confusing question if you’re not familiar with what it is, and how the body processes it. Here we’ll break it down and see if it’s something your little one should eat.
We are consuming sugar and fructose at the highest rates ever seen. Obesity and diet related disease are on the rise and society is more conscious of the sweetener choices we make. One of the leading alternatives for table sugar is the agave nectar which is extracted from the same plant used to make tequila.

Can I Give My Baby Agave Nectar? Answer: Not Recommended

Agave is considered a “healthier” choice of sugar since it is generated from a plant. What health-conscious people do not know is that agave nectar purchased in your local market nowadays is also processed. That makes it no better than processed table sugar or high fructose corn syrup. Since the US food and drug regulators have no given guideline as to what “natural” foods are, manufacturers can easily name their products “natural” if they want to.

What is Agave nectar?

It is a processed liquid sugar alternative that comes from the agave plant. Agave nectar has a delicate caramel flavor and is commonly substituted for maple syrup and sugar in the family home. It is also colored like maple syrup, ranging from dark amber to a light honey shade.

How is Agave Nectar Made?

Agave nectar comes from the agave plant, and the juice which is extracted is the basis for agave nectar as we know it. This juice is known as aguamiel or “honey water” to Mexican natives and has been used in its natural state for hundreds of years as a sweetener.After it has been extracted, the aguamiel goes through a centrifuge multiple times until the juice is the desired color and any impurities have been removed. In between bouts with the centrifuge it is placed into a holding tank. Once the aguamiel is the correct color, it goes into another heated centrifuge. An enzyme is added to convert the original sugars into high fructose  and dextrose.

To prevent the sugars from crystallizing, the aguamiel is sent through a filter by another centrifuge pump. To achieve the consistency we are familiar with, the aguamiel is sent to an evaporator to reduce the water content and increase the sugar content of the product. This final product is what we know as agave nectar.

Fructose in Agave Nectar.

The process of manufacturing agave nectar changes the original sugar in the aguamiel. It then concentrates the sugar and evaporates the water content. The original natural sugars in the nectar have been significantly altered with the end result containing high levels of fructose. Depending on the processing, agave nectar can have between 50 – 90% fructose present.

Is Agave Sweetener a Healthier Choice?

Refined natural sweeteners such as Agave nectar cannot be considered a much healthier choice. Scientists have discovered that they are similar to table sugar, high fructose syrup, honey and other sweeteners you can find in grocery stores. Agave nectar contains very small amounts of magnesium, potassium, and calcium but they are not enough to contribute to the health of an individual.

On a study made by the Journal of Clinical Investigation, they found out that consuming fructose may be less healthy than consuming the same amount of glucose. The participants in the study gained more unhealthy visceral fats when they consume fructose. They are also more likely to develop diabetes and other heart-related diseases.

Glycemic Index of Agave

Though Agave sweeteners are similar to table sugar and high fructose corn syrup, they have the lowest glycemic index among all processed sugars in the market. Glycemic index is the measure of how quickly a food raises blood sugar levels in a human body. While the glycemic index may be a consideration for adults and those with health conditions such as diabetes, it is not a factor in deciding whether to give agave nectar to your baby.

It is not necessary to add sweeteners to your baby’s food. Your little one will happily eat their cereal, fruit and vegetables without adding sugars or sugar alternatives to their meal. Help your child avoid obesity and other diet related illness as they age by ensuring that they start out with a processed sugar free diet.

Add Your Own Answer to Can I Give My Baby Agave Nectar? Below

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

aza August 20, 2013 at 6:55 am

what??????????????? it is not safe at all.
why would anyone want to sweeten their baby’s food? this would only ruin their palate for a lifetime. fruit is sweet enough, NEVER add anything sweet for your baby or toddler and ideally for you too…. a baby will like that it is constantly fed. feed her juice and chips and that’s what she’ll be used to. why enlist her for a lifetime of health problems? please, for crying out loud, give babies a chance to taste food as it is. it tastes really good, we, adults, have perverted our taste buds with too sweet, to salty, too crapy foods. and since we are at it, leave out that used and abused rice. haven’t you read about the arsenic-loaded rice in the US? even organic rice.
it”s very easy: fresh organic produce, as much veggies as possible, not too much fruit. add a bit of water if necessary. plus healthy organic full/entire grains. try quinoa and millet more often and so on…… read and empower yourself. disregard manufacturers’ marketing. they really dont care about your baby’s health, but their wallets.

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Sara May 15, 2014 at 10:35 pm

Aza – Calm down. You sound like a very angry politician. And you obviously do not have any kids. If you did, you would know that many babies will refuse anything that is sour/tart/bitter. Many types of baby food (even homemade ones) are way too sour/tart, even for an adult. You should go buy a few cans of organic baby food so you know what they taste like. Breast milk and formula are way sweeter than regular baby foods. A few drops of organic/natural sweetener mixed into baby food is NOT used to make the food sweet but rather to remove or lessen the tartness. The tartness also isn’t good for the baby’s stomach as it’s too acidic and can lead to vomiting and spit up. Please do not comment on topics where you obviously have no experience, stick to fighting Monsanto.

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B5cott August 26, 2013 at 7:20 am

Nicely said aza. :-)

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canigivemybaby August 27, 2013 at 5:26 am

Thank you aza and B5cott for your comments, you’ve certainly given me a great deal to think about and perhaps even an update of the article. Cheers, Amber

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aza August 28, 2013 at 10:02 pm

thank you guys for your appreciative comments. i feel very strongly about health/food issues regarding our families, esp our babies. keep reading and fighting back.
by the way, regarding the fiid they have us eat, i have recently watched a documentary, an eye-opener. the world according to monsanto. your skin will crawl!!

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A E October 3, 2013 at 8:45 pm

The question is a lot of organic baby medicines have agave in them, does this mean we shouldn’t use then?

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canigivemybaby October 3, 2013 at 10:04 pm

Hi AE,
I have no idea. Let me do some research over the weekend and see what I can come up with.
Cheers,
Amber

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aza October 3, 2013 at 11:08 pm

I would say that for medicines it is OK, it is a lot better than all the crap they put in… preservatives, dyes etc. this would be the least of your worries. better try homeopatic medicine, it is so safe and effective.

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Pink October 15, 2013 at 1:36 pm

Is agave nectar heated enough to kill botulinum spores? I ask, not because I know that it contains any spores, but because honey can and isn’t safe to give to babies until after they turn 1 year-old and their stomachs produce enough acid to kill the spores in honey.

Thank you.

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canigivemybaby October 16, 2013 at 5:29 am

Hi Pink,
I am not sure how hot you have to heat it to get rid of botulinum spores – I looked into the preparation of agave and it is only heated to under 118°F, so you would need to check with a nutritionist.
Best regards, Amber

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aza October 16, 2013 at 12:21 pm

i do not think this is an issue with agave nectar – this is not an animal product.

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Sandra Alonzo December 4, 2013 at 1:29 pm

My daughter have my grandson “zarbees” cough syrup 2mths.+ for my 5 month old grandson.The pediatrician told us it was not safe to give him and was basically sugar water. Is this rx FDA approved? ? Very Angry because it is a diet supplement and its title is very misleading to the consumer.

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canigivemybaby December 8, 2013 at 10:11 pm

Hi Sandra,
It’s all so confusing isnt it? I have given my baby Zarbees before, but I looked a little online for you and found these … hope that they help
http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/from-zarbees–how-to-safely-treat-your-childs-cough-and-cold-this-winter-137009508.html
also these are from the FDA website on coughs and colds
http://www.fda.gov/downloads/forconsumers/consumerupdates/ucm048524.pdf
http://www.fda.gov/drugs/guidancecomplianceregulatoryinformation/enforcementactivitiesbyfda/selectedenforcementactionsonunapproveddrugs/ucm245106.htm
Two last tips, and these came from my mother in law
1. Boil an onion, place the water and onion into a bowl into the room of the sick child when they are sleeping (repeat daily until symptoms ease). It’s not for eating – it does something to the air
2. Only for older children – give a teaspoon of honey to ease a cough – it will coat their throat and give some relief

A sick infant can be such a stressful time, I hope that these tips and websites helped a little. I am not a doctor, so cannot recommend anything but I am a Mom and understand how upset you must be at all the confusing labels.
Hope your little one gets well soon, Amber

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aza December 9, 2013 at 10:24 am

In Canada, you are not supposed to give kids under 6, I think, any drug for the coughè they are both dangerous and highly ineffective.

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canigivemybaby December 10, 2013 at 5:51 am

Hi Aza,
This is true, I would never go against what is recommended by the FDA in regards to administering OTC cough medicine. It’s important to always follow the dosage on the medicine and your doctor’s advice.
Thanks for your comments, Amber

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bookishone November 23, 2014 at 8:52 pm

Dear canigivemybaby,
the problem with botulism spores is that no amount of heat can kill them, they are the waste product of the live bacteria. Think if them as the bacterial poop. You can kill the bacteria but the “poop” is still poison. As far as I know agave does not have the botulinum in it like honey does. That comes from the bees. I was hoping that agave would replace honey to soothe a sore throat but unfortunately it also seems to lack that property. So my grandson is just drinking warm water when his cough gets bad. Sigh.

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