Have you ever heard of agave? Although little known, this medicinal plant is the main ingredient in the production of a very famous alcoholic beverage, tequila.
Scientifically called Agave tequilana , it also serves to replace sugar in everyday preparations. For this, a syrup that works as a sweetener is produced.
In health, the by-products of this species help the digestive system, bones and even the heart. In addition, they can be used in the fight against obesity, as it helps with weight loss .
In addition to all these benefits, the blue agave, as it is also known, is also an ornamental plant. Lush, it can be compared to Aloe vera (aloe), but some say it looks like a cactus.
Blue agave and other types
Agave tequilana is just one of the 273 species that exist throughout the entire territory of the Americas, and that is what we are going to deal with in this article. But before mentioning the properties and benefits of blue agave, let’s know a little about three other plants. Check out!
- Attenuated agave: popularly called the dragon agave, this plant is considered the queen of succulents. Its leaves are green and large. In medicine, it is considered a functional ingredient with antioxidant properties ( 1 )
- Agave vivipara: like the attenuated one, this species is also native to Mexico. The leaves vary from pale green to gray with a white border. Among the properties of this variation are laxative, digestive and antiseptic powers ( 2 )
- Agave angustifolia: native to the Caribbean islands, this plant has much thinner leaves than the others. The juice from the leaves and stems or the infusion from their roots can be used to treat swelling, bruises and arthritis. They are also used for liver and kidney diseases. ( 3 )
What is it for?
Blue agave and its by-products have a substance called inulin that is responsible for most of its health benefits, such as prebiotic action, aiding in the treatment of diabetes and increasing antioxidants. ( 4 , 5 )
Protects the digestive system
The plant works by stimulating the natural defenses of the intestinal flora , as it has a probiotic action. In addition, it contains inulin which acts as a prebiotic in the body.
For those who don’t know the difference between these terms, we have an explanation. Both are related to intestinal health and act to complement each other.
Probiotics are desirable bacteria for the body, as they stimulate the balance in the intestine. Prebiotics are the fibers used by these microorganisms.
For these reasons, the vegetable helps in the treatment of gastritis, constipation and diarrhea. Another positive effect is the prevention of cancer and other diseases that affect the colon.
This last benefit is thanks to soluble dietary fiber called fructooligosaccharides. In the body, these compounds have the ability to eliminate toxic substances such as fat, protecting the colon. ( 4 , 5 )
Improves bone health
Bone mass is benefited by minerals such as calcium and magnesium, which strengthen bones and prevent diseases such as osteoporosis . Precisely these compounds are absorbed in greater amounts through the consumption of plant by-products. ( 4 )
Helps regulate the glycemic index
By regulating insulin levels in the body, blue agave is indicated for both diabetics and people with low blood sugar levels, the hypoglycemic.
Cholesterol and triglycerides are important fats for the body, because while the former is used in the production of cells, the latter is capable of providing energy for the body.
However, like everything else in life, the excess of these substances is harmful to health. In addition to hampering the blood flow, they are also responsible for the development of cardiovascular disease.
Atherosclerosis, stroke and other pathologies can be prevented by lowering cholesterol and triglycerides. In addition to decreasing these compounds, the plant also improves the metabolism of toxins.
Studies also show that the composition of this vegetable, rich in vitamins (A, B2, B3 and C), minerals (iron and phosphorus) and proteins, can be effective in draining and detoxifying blood vessels , such as veins and arteries. ( 4 )
Helps in cancer prevention
Do you know what antioxidant means ? For those who are not familiar with this term, it is good to know that these are substances capable of blocking the action of free radicals in the human body.
Radicals are unstable molecules that to some extent are harmless to health. However, when they are present in large amounts, they start to attack cells and tissues.
This activity can lead to serious health problems, such as premature aging, heart disease, diabetes and even cancer.
Contributes to weight loss
Just as syrup can replace sugar for diabetics, it can also serve as a substitute in weight-loss diets. This is because while it sweetens food well, it has low calories.
But the benefits regarding the weight loss process do not stop there! The plant can be used as an adjuvant in the fight against obesity.
As it lowers cholesterol and triglyceride levels, this effect is especially beneficial for obese people, as they tend to have more of these fats in their bodies.
In addition, the plant has a substance called fructane, a type of organic compound that also facilitates weight loss. This is not to mention the minimizing effect of accumulated fat and blood glucose level. ( 4 , 6 )
Despite all these benefits, it is important to emphasize that weight loss must be planned with the help of a nutrition or nutrition professional.
No product, natural or synthetic, has the power of slimming. To win the fight against the scales, it is necessary to have a balanced diet and practice physical exercise.
Inhibits the development of bacteria
Blue agave by-products can help prevent the development of bacteria that cause serious health problems such as E. coli, Listeria, Shigella and Salmonella .
But do you know why this happens? According to studies, the plant contains bifidobacteria that are “good” bacteria. They are important in the gastrointestinal tract and help prevent harmful microorganisms from arising. ( 4 )
How to use agave?
The tequila agave serves several purposes, from the production of tequila to the preparation of a syrup. In the latter case, it serves to replace sugar or other sweeteners in recipes.
It is also a vegan version of bee honey, as it is a plant-derived product. It can be used at any time of the day and in various dishes such as pancakes, granola , breads, cakes etc.
Agave Syrup Recipe
- 1 flake of agave nectar
- 1 cup of hot water.
Add the two ingredients and stir until the nectar dissolves. Then let it cool, place it in a glass jar with a lid and store in the refrigerator. This homemade agave syrup recipe can last up to a month . ( 7 )
Agave honey with pancakes
A breakfast full of benefits can count with agave syrup. The vegan combination of this vegetable honey with pancakes is taught on the VegTube channel. Check out the following ingredients and how to prepare in the video:
- 1 glass of water
- ½ cup of carrot juice
- 1 tablespoon of soy milk powder
- ½ cup of wheat flour
- ½ cup of oatmeal
- 2 tablespoons of oil
- 4 Brazil nuts
- 1 pinch of sugar
- 1 puff of salt
- ½ teaspoon of powdered yeast.
Agave and Aloe vera
The appearance of these two plants can be confusing as they are both succulents. However, Aloe vera, popularly known as aloe vera , is smaller and has serrated leaves.
The agave, in turn, is a plant with greater structure and its leaves have sharp spines along the edges. The color is another difference, because in this case the plant has shades of blue, while the aloe is green and has white spots.
Are there contraindications and side effects?
We did not find any contraindication or side effects of blue agave. However, it is important to consult a doctor before starting to use this medicinal plant and its by-products, especially if you have a chronic illness.