27 October, 2011
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Health Benefits of Cactus Honey Powder
It may come as a surprise, but cactus honey powder is not a bee product. This white powder sweetener comes from the agave plant, a cactus plant native to Mexico. The agave juice is extracted from the plant, filtered and finally heated to remove moisture, resulting in a powder. In its liquid form, it is more commonly known as agave syrup and can generally be found in health stores and major supermarkets. Although the nutritional value of cactus honey powder is low, certain benefits of the agave plant make it a natural sweetener worth considering.
Lower Glycemic Scale Rating
Although agave is 1.4 times sweeter than refined white sugar, it is ranked lower on the glycemic scale for sweeteners. Because of this, agave results in a decreased blood sugar distribution to the blood stream, as opposed to refined white sugar. The ranking for agave is around 27 while the ranking for refined white cane sugar is approximately double that number.
Agave contains saponins, which are phytochemicals. They are found in plants such as ginseng, alfalfa sprouts, potatoes, legumes, oats, tomatoes and yucca. While they may be toxic in large amounts, they may reduce elevated cholesterol levels in small amounts. Saponins may also decrease your risk of cancer due to their antioxidant activity your body, preventing cell damage by protecting lipids from free radical damage. These phytochemicals improve the immune system by stimulating antibody production.
Fructans are chemical structures of fructose. They are naturally produced by 15 percent of flowering plant species. Fructans are part of the carbohydrate family and are attributed with providing four calories of energy per gram. When processed, fructans may give a steady energy for up to 12 hours, depending on your metabolic rate. Agave contains 15 to 20 percent fructans. Inulin, a fructan, is known to strengthen the immune system, lower cholesterol and lower low-density lipoproteins, LDL, while raising high-density lipoproteins, HDL. Fructans do not require insulin for digestion, making them ideal if you have diabetes.
Good Transitional Sweetener
Agave consists mostly of fructose and imparts a glycemic index, or GI, value similar to many green vegetables. Therefore, it typically does not cause the blood sugar level to spike. Cane sugar, however, has a GI value approximately twice that of agave. Since agave is around 1.4 times sweeter than refined cane sugar, it is a good choice when transitioning from the higher GI value sweeteners, allowing you to still enjoy the sweetness while moving to a lower position on the GI scale. Cactus honey powder contains approximately 14 grams of carbohydrates, 3 milligrams of sodium, one percent calcium and one percent iron. Each tablespoon contains approximately 55 calories.
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