Difference Between Agave and Honey (With Table)

Sweeteners- Any substance that has a sweet flavor that can act as a sugar substitute in foods, medicines, desserts, etc. Sweeteners can either be of natural origin or can be synthesized artificially. The health benefits of different sweeteners are dependent greatly on the source of origin of the sweetener or the synthesis process.

Natural sweeteners are proven to be better than synthetic artificial sweeteners. Examples of synthetic sweeteners are aspartame, brown sugar, saccharine, etc. some of the examples of Natural sweeteners are Agave, maple syrup, coconut syrup, honey, molasses, etc. The toxic effects of artificial sweeteners have turned people towards natural sweetener utilization. 

Agave vs Honey

The main difference between Agave and Honey is that the former comes from a plant source while the latter comes from beehives. Both have the source of origin from plants. While agave is directly obtained from the plant, honey is collected from beehives where bees collect it from the flower nectar. Both of them are typical examples of natural sweeteners.

Agave is obtained from a plant called found in desert regions. It is used to make sugar syrup to be used as a sweetening agent and is also used to make tequila. The plant also possesses medicinal properties. Agave has a high fructose concentration compared to honey, table sugar, or any other sweetener. At times, it can also cause high blood sugar levels.

Honey is a yellow-golden viscous liquid that is extracted from the beehives. Bees collect the nectar from the flower store it in the beehives and produces honey. Honey contains a considerable amount of glucose and fructose. It is also used as a sweetening agent in desserts, beverages, bakery, medicinal purposes, and cosmetic purposes.

Comparison Table Between Agave and Honey

Parameters of ComparisonAgaveHoney
SourceObtained from the blue agave plant Agave tequilana and Agave salmiana.Obtained from beehives.
CompositionHigh fructose content.Contains fructose, glucose, and sucrose.
Glycemic index10-19 (low)58 (mild)
ClassificationOn basis of color and processing parameters.On basis of the floral source of the nectar.
ConsistencyThinner than honey.Has a thicker consistency.
HypersensitivityRarely causes allergyCan cause allergy due to the presence of dormant endospores.
UsesCan be used as a vegan alternative for cooking. Sweetener in beverages and breakfast cereals.Used mainly in baking bread and biscuits, and in beverages. Also used in skin care products and medicines.
Major SuppliersAmerica, Mexico, and South Africa.Ukraine, Turkey, Argentina, China, and Russia.

What is Agave?

Agave is obtained from the plant Agave tequilana (blue agave) and Agave salmiana belonging to the Family- Asparagaceae, the sub-family being Agavoideae and Genus- Agave. Agave is natively grown in America, South Africa, and Mexico. Agave is almost 1.5 times sweeter than table sugar and finds its place in a variety of confectionaries. 

The agave syrup is obtained from the sweet sap located at the center of the plant. The sap is collected through a pressure cooking machine followed by extraction of the syrup. The agave syrup is then collected, packed, packaged, and transferred to the wholesale and retail services for trade purposes.

Agave has a high amount of fructose and is slightly thinner than honey which makes it easier to uses in beverages such as mocktails, cocktails, and iced teas. It can also be used as a spread over bread, pancakes, or toast.

Agave also has a lot of nutritional content and possesses anti-oxidant properties. The nutritional value makes it a better alternative than regular table sugar. Also, the consumption of agave syrup is less compared to the table sugar as it is sweeter than the normal table sugar, a friendly alternative.

What is Honey?

Honey is the food source for bees. The floral nectar used to make honey is collected by the bees of the genera Apis from different flowers. Honey is a thick dark brown-golden or yellow golden-colored liquid having a very little amount of water. The chance of microbial growth is very low in the case of honey, so it can be stored for longer durations.

Bees convert the floral nectars into simple sugar and then store it in the beehive honeycombs. Preserving the nectars in the honeycomb will maintain its freshness and provide protection from the external environment. The honey is then extracted from these honeycombs and filtered to remove foreign particles. Due to the participation of bees in the hone-making process, it isn’t considered vegan.

Honey is used in baking bread, cakes, puddings, pies, and cookies. It is also used in breakfast cereals and beverages. Honey also possesses medicinal and healing properties which makes it a popular ingredient in the skincare and medicinal field. It also helps in the maintenance of blood sugar levels of the person consuming it. Honey is preferred in place of table sugar for people who are having a diet or trying to consume low carb diet such as in case of weight loss.

Main Differences Between Agave and Honey

  1. Agave is obtained from the blue agave plant while honey is obtained from beehives.
  2. Source of agave- Leaves of the plant Agave salmian and Agave tequilana. Source of honey- produced by bees by the collection of floral nectars. 
  3. Agave acts as food for the plant while honey is the food for bees.
  4. Agave is rich in fructose (almost 80-90%) while honey contains fructose, sucrose, and glucose.
  5. The glycemic index of agave lies between 10 to 19 while pure honey has a glycemic index of 58.
  6. Honey has a thicker consistency than agave syrup.
  7. Agave has high fructose content which can lead to higher blood sugar levels. Honey is comparatively safer for consumption.

Conclusion

The natural sweeteners agave and honey find a wide variety of usage in today’s modern-day. Both of them have their own nutritional value, but honey is considered to be more nutritional than agave. Agave is vegan while honey is not. The choice of usage of sweetener totally depends on the purpose for what it is being used. Both the natural sweeteners are available in the market and one can get them from their nearest grocery store. In general, honey is preferred over agave as it has more nutritional value and lesser side effects.

References

  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0956713521004047
  2. https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/jmf.2013.0162