Agave Versus Honey: Which One Is Healthier?

Agave and honey are often used as healthy alternatives to sugar and other sweeteners. They both look like syrups, but how they are processed varies greatly, and that can affect how healthy they are, according to Healthline.

Agave is extracted from the agave plant. While it is sold as nectar, the finished product is more like a syrup because of the way it is processed. And it is this process that destroys most of the benefits attributed to it. That being said, agave has a low glycemic index number because most of the sweetener in agave comes from fructose. As a result, it does not cause blood sugar spikes like honey and sugar. A low GI number is generally considered good for diabetics, however, high levels of fructose are problematic because too much can lead to a number of health conditions including type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and heart disease.

Honey is not processed

Unlike agave, honey comes from bees. The finished product does not have to be processed before making its way to store shelves. Some brands are pasteurized to kill bacteria, but raw honey is not. Raw honey boasts several health benefits, which include antioxidant, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory qualities. Some manufacturers add high fructose corn syrup to their honey, which degrades it, so always check the label to know what is in the product, per Medical News Today.

Honey is mostly sugar, and therefore it has a much higher GI number than agave, which can make it problematic for people with diabetes (via Medical News Today). However, a small study published in PubMed found that it did not raise levels as high as sugar. On the other hand, because honey has more healing benefits, it makes a better choice for most people, registered dietitian nutritionist Keri Gans told Women's Health.