(noun) A species of the agave plant that grows natively in Mexico and is cultivated for its nectar.

Mysterious, magnificent, memorable-Mexico inspires many words that describe its people, plants, and culture. With a history rich in spices and flavors, Mexico’s plants add much to our sense of taste. The ancient Mesoamericans knew about the aromatic, savory, and medicinal properties of plants. One plant in particular, the agave, was worshiped as a goddess of health.

Agave is a desert cactus that has long been cultivated in the hilly, semi-arid soils of Mexico. The Aztecs believed that the sweet, sticky juice from this cactus purified the body and soul. When the Spaniards arrived, they took the juice from the agave and allowed it to ferment. This early drink evolved to the drink known as tequila.

For thousands of years, agave has been a highly favored food source, and its potential is still being unlocked by modern food science. As the season of holiday baking unfolds, consider flavoring foods with this natural sweetener for its compelling health benefits. With its low glycemic index (the ratio used to measure the ability of a carbohydrate to raise blood sugar levels), Young Living’s Blue Agave is superior as a substitute for sugar in any recipe. Foods with a low glycemic index are absorbed more slowly, so there are fewer ups and downs in the production of insulin. This slow absorption is very important for maintaining normal blood sugar levels. Young Living’s organic Blue Agave (Agave tequilana Weber) has a glycemic index of 11, whereas the regular agave (Angustifolia salmiana ) has a glycemic index of 39.

Agave nectar is about 90 percent fructose, but this is fructose in its natural form. This means that agave nectar does not have to be processed and consequently does not contain any processing chemicals. Because of the high proportion of fructose, agave nectar is 42 percent sweeter than sucrose but has the same caloric value. So a smaller amount of agave will add the same sweetness to foods or beverages but with fewer calories than sucrose.

Blue Agave not only sweetens but also enhances the flavors of food products, especially fruit flavors, which makes it particularly useful for fruit drinks, desserts, and smoothies. Add a little sweetness to any celebration by including Blue Agave in your favorite food and drink recipes throughout the year.

 Reprinted with permission of Young Living, Lehi, UT 84043