During pregnancy, you might search for ‘better’ alternatives to regular table sugar. Agave nectar is a natural, nutritive sugar substitute made from the tequila plant, and it is said to be a healthier option than sugar as it contains vitamins, minerals, and polyphenols. But is it actually safe for consumption during pregnancy?
Using Agave nectar as an alternative to regular table sugar in large amounts may not be a safe option during pregnancy.
Agave nectar is not safe to consume as your source of natural sweeteners during pregnancy because it has compounds called saponins that can stimulate uterine contractions, potentially leading to premature labor (source: WebMD).
Let’s take a closer look at the agave plant. Is it all bad? Are there any potential benefits to using agave nectar in small amounts during pregnancy? Find out more about this natural sweetener and its potential effects on pregnant women.
Agave Benefits Versus Risks for Pregnant Women
Agave nectar or syrup is a natural sweetener that is made from the tequila plant typically found in Mexico. It has a similar sweet taste to honey and is often used as a replacement for sugar. It became popular in the health food industry because it was marketed as a healthy alternative to sugar due to a lower glycemic index.
Unfortunately, agave syrup may not be safe during pregnancy. Agave nectar can stimulate uterine contractions, which can lead to preterm labor and miscarriage (source: WebMD). Therefore, it is best to avoid agave nectar during pregnancy.
Though there are various types of agave nectar, in any form, the nectar can stimulate uterine contractions. Therefore, avoiding any type of agave nectar during pregnancy is best.
Whilst Agave has a lower glycemic index (less likely to cause spikes in blood sugar) it is actually much higher in fructose than table sugar. Excessive consumption of Agave nectar can lead to the same (or worse) problems and diseases associated with eating too much sugar such as obesity, insulin resistance, diabetes, fatty liver, and other health complications (source: National Library of Medicine).
Therefore, agave should be avoided by those who regularly monitor their blood sugar level, particularly pregnant women.
If you’re in search of a natural sweetener, you can safely try honey instead, if it’s pasteurized. Honey is a good option to use in moderation as a sweetener for pregnant women and it has many health benefits.
So Why Is Agave Unsafe During Pregnancy?
Agave nectar shouldn’t be consumed when expecting. Uterine contractions induced by agave nectar have the potential to accelerate labor and cause miscarriage. As a result, it is advised to avoid from agave nectar when pregnant.
The main source of this precaution comes from the respected medical site WebMD, but unfortunately, they don’t cite any study or reasoning for the caution. However, according to the Journal of Herbal Pharmacotherapy (source: ResearchGate), Mexican women have historically used agave for contraception, which might also point towards it causing uterine contractions or other unwanted side effects in pregnancy.
If you’ve eaten a small amount of agave during pregnancy, don’t panic – it’s likely to be OK in very small, one-off doses. Agave is so sweet, that it’s very rarely used in high doses anyway, so if you’ve stirred some into your coffee or used a little in your baking, you’re more than likely going to be fine – just avoid it for the rest of your pregnancy diet.
If you’ve taken a large or supplemental amount of agave, it might be best to contact your healthcare provider out of an abundance of caution.
Not all food products labeled “healthy” alternatives are truly good for you. Agave nectar is sweet but sadly not for pregnant women. We hope this answers your questions regarding the safety of Agave as a sugar substitute!