Updated: Sep 6, 2020
Agave plants, native to tropical areas of South America, are large succulents which survive well in high heat conditions with little rainfall and nutrient-poor soil. This is largely due to the plant’s ability to store water and moisture. Agaves are unique, eye-catching plants that are easy to grow and maintain. However, the demand for agave surpasses the plant’s appearance and instead goes hand-in-hand with its several health benefits and uses within the food and medicine sectors.
An addition to food & beverages
Since agave nectar comes directly from the core of the plant, for example from the Blue Agave plant, it is in high demand in the health food world due to its use as a natural sweetener. Historically, agave has been used as a source of food for the prehistoric indigenous tribes. For example, baking the fibers and squeezing them into liquid form was a source of beverage while baking or boiling the heads of the plant was used as an edible paste or as a soup. The leaves of the plant were also consumed by boiling or roasting them.
Nowadays, agave is known as a popular ingredient used to produce tequila, in which the nectar is extracted from the plant and heated. Due to its health benefits, it is frequently used to sweeten and add flavor to other beverages and food rather than using sugar, such as to tea, coffee, and cake. Additionally, agave is used as a sweet syrup or nectar in place of traditional syrups or as a vegan alternative to honey.
Agave as a natural healer
The addition of agave to food or beverages plays an important role in our diets by increasing levels of calcium plus containing low amounts of calories, especially when compared to sugar calories. This, in turn, helps regulate blood pressure, maintain a healthy weight, and strengthen bones. Although agave is rich in fructose, swapping sugar with agave sweetener is beneficial to individuals with diabetes since agave has a lower glycemic index level. Agave is also an ingredient in some prebiotic dietary supplements and other supplements to alleviate gas, constipation, and improve indigestion.
Agave is an effective natural healer. For example, sap from agave leaves acts as an antiseptic when used topically to heal burns and other wounds. The plant can speed up the recovery of cuts when applied to skin because agave contains steroidal saponins, coumarins, and isoflavones. When using agave to heal cuts or wounds, it is also an anti-inflammatory agent with properties that help alleviate pain. Furthermore, applying agave nectar and syrup hydrates dry or chapped skin or lips. Aside from using agave topically for skin care treatment, its antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties make agave a natural pain relieving option for toothaches when the roots and leaves are grounded up.