Most of us have heard about and perhaps even tried agave. It’s best known as the plant used to make tequila and a syrup which is an alternative to honey. The nectar from the agave plant is called “aguamiel” in Mexico. which translates to “honey water.” The Aztecs held the agave in high regard, treating it as a gift from the gods, and even used it as a salve for healing wounds. Nowadays, it’s not only a delicious sweetener, but it’s popping up in beauty products as well.
Agave americana from Mexico is the most commonly known agave on the market. Similar to the lily, agave has three edible parts: stalks, sap and flowers. Used in skincare products, agave is a shining star. In addition, it contains saponins, phytochemicals and fructans, which are associated with immune system boosting according to the Journal of Ethnopharmacology. Further, agave is vegan-friendly since it comes from a plant.
Agave in your beauty regime
DIY hair and skincare masques are an easy, fun way to switch up your beauty routine. There are plenty of great lab-created conditioners and face masques available in stores, but try making up a batch at home using agave—especially if you have dry, dehydrated hair or skin. Components found in the agave plant allow improve penetration of moisturizing ingredients in skin and hair treatments.
Check out some of these recipes for hair remedies: http://www.hairfinity.com/us/en/diy-hair-mask-recipes/ You might be shocked at the deep conditioning benefits that agave nectar has when combined with ingredients such as yogurt or mashed fruit. You can opt for agave instead of honey in any skin or hair care recipe, so experiment and see what works best.
I love mixing 1/2tsp agave nectar with some baking soda and a few drops of water for an incredible lip exfoliant. By applying this paste to clean, dry lips, you’ll buff away dead skin and reveal dewy, supple, kissable lips. Be sure to use a gentle, circular motion, and allow the paste to set for 1-3 minutes before removing gently using a warm, wet cloth. Apply a little all-natural lip balm afterwards to seal in the benefits of this lip treatment.
You can also try this DIY treatment for sunspots on your hands:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/21/remove-skin-spots_n_1811087.html (which is being touted as a great scrub for calluses on your feet as well).
Agave in your diet
Agave is far sweeter than regular sugar, so you actually use less when swapping it out in recipes. Typically, you’d use one third less agave nectar than sugar in baked goods. You also need to reduce the amount of other liquids in recipes by one fourth when baking with agave nectar. You can read more about swapping out other sweeteners for agave here: http://www.allaboutagave.com/substituting-agave-nectar-for-other-sugars.php However, as with any sweetener on the market, too much of a good thing is no longer a good thing, so use it sparingly.
Many of us have tried the nectar, but did you know that parts of the plant are edible too? Agave is high in indigestible fiber, which helps to sweep out the digestive tract. The agave plant produces flowers and stalks, which can be boiled or roasted. The aromatic flowers are often chopped and cooked in scrambled eggs, while the stalks are used in salads.
Agave also contains a substance called “inulin” which helps with weight management by decreasing the body’s absorption of cholesterol and fat. Artichokes, green beans and asparagus have the same effect.
In the end, consuming high quantities of carbs and sweets is not good for you. Opting for agave as an alternative to your usual sweetener is a fun way to mix things up and get white sugar out of your diet. Try it in one of the skin or hair treatments noted in this article, and see for yourself just how versatile the agave plant can be!