National Tequila Day: Celebrate agave’s health benefits

National Tequila Day: Celebrate agave’s health benefits

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0 2014

From diabetes to high cholesterol to the common cold, agave may have many natural health benefits

Agave image promotional image from
Agave image promotional image from

ST. LOUIS – Today is National Tequila Day and since it is also Friday, it might be a great day to stop by your liquor store for a bottle.  But not all tequilas are the same – from the silver tequila to a reposada tequila, there are marked differences.

For example, gold tequila is simply lesser tequila enhanced with caramel coloring. Don’t buy it.

Like good wine, good tequilas are aged in barrels and as they age, like wine,  they take on increasingly complex flavors and colors. Silvers typically taste most like the agave plant, and the clean flavor makes them a favorite for mixing cocktails. Barrel age blanco to make a mature reposado, añejo or extra-añejo tequila.

As costs for good barrel aged tequila can be quite high, sometimes into the hundreds, tequila is not only for bar shots.  Instead it becomes a sought-after sipping drink, like a fine cognac.

Tequila also has significant health benefits.

Agavins, a natural form of sugar found in the agave plant, are non-digestible and can act as a dietary fiber, so they do not raise blood glucose.  Agavins do contain fructoses, but they are not anything like  high-fructose corn syrup. Agavins are fructans, which are fructoses linked together in long, branched chains. The human body can’t use them in that configuration, so they don’t affect blood sugar.

For someone with blood-sugar sensitivity, tequila could be beneficial, or at least better for the body than other alcohols because those simple frutan sugars are simple sugars that break down more easily.

In fact, experiments conducted at Mexico’s Polytechnic Institute of Guanajuato (2010)  revealed that the agave plant could stimulate the GLP-1 hormone, aiding in increased insulin production.

Agavins may also help dieters lose weight. Mice that drank agavins ate less, lost weight and their blood glucose levels decreased when compared to other sweeteners such as glucose, fructose, sucrose, agave syrup and aspartame.

A team led by Dr. Jorge Segura of the University of Guadalajara, close to the town of Tequila, has been studying the health effects of the spiky agave plants grown on Mexico’s arid central highlands.

Segura and his team say the plant’s powers go beyond inducing euphoric highs. “The structure of agave contains, among other things, substances known as fructans,” Segura told Reuters. “Fructans reduce cholesterol [and] alter the absorption of fat in the intestine, at least in animals.”

Carbohydrates from the agave and asparagus are called iInulin, a type of fructan, that some scientists feel can be a weight loss aid. “I have read that tequila has a component that can, in moderation, aid in lowering cholesterol,” Roger Bailey, head bartender at Filini in Chicago, told Forbes in 2013. Studies have shown that tequila can break down dietary fat, which can indeed help lower LDL levels, the bad cholesterol.

In addition, he says, “tequila will alleviate mild strain, tension, and headaches,” though he adds, “I don’t suggest slamming tequila to get rid of a migraine.”

Agavins will also help reduce high cholesterol and facilitate the delivery of some medications to the colon, aiding in their absorption in the treating illnesses such as Crohn’s disease, colitis, IBS and even cancer.

Tequila also helps ward off colds with this simple recipe first promoted by doctors in the 1930s:

.5 ounce of tequila blanco
.5 ounce of agave nectar (to eliminate bacteria and soothe sore throats)
.5 ounce of fresh lime juice (for Vitamin C)

The vitamin C and agave nectar may have as much to do with the cure as the tequila has with helping you not care that you feel bad.

Good tequilas, like Don Julio or Patron, are neither vomit- nor hangover-inducing, as it is often the high levels of sugars in alcohol that cause the negative effects.  When buying tequila spend the money for labels that say “100% Agave.” Under Mexican law, tequila must be made from only the blue Weber agave plant from the Tequila region in the state of Jalisco.

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