Effects of agave nectar versus sucrose on weight gain, adiposity, blood glucose, insulin, and lipid responses in mice

J Med Food. 2014 Sep;17(9):1017-21. doi: 10.1089/jmf.2013.0162. Epub 2014 Jul 10.


Agave nectar is a fructose-rich liquid sweetener derived from a plant, and is often promoted as a low glycemic alternative to refined sugar. However, little scientific research has been conducted in animals or humans to determine its metabolic and/or health effects. The aim of this study was to explore the influence of agave nectar versus sucrose on weight gain, adiposity, fasting plasma blood glucose, insulin, and lipid levels. Eighteen (n=18) male ICR mice (33.8±1.6 g) were divided into two groups (n=6 for agave nectar and n=12 for sucrose) and provided free access to one of two diets of equal energy densities differing only in a portion of the carbohydrate provided. Diets contained 20% carbohydrate (by weight of total diet) from either raw agave nectar or sucrose. Epididymal fat pads were excised, and blood was collected after 34 days. Weight gain (4.3±2.2 vs. 8.4±3.4 g), fat pad weights (0.95±0.54 vs. 1.75±0.66 g), plasma glucose (77.8±12.2 vs. 111.0±27.9 mg/dL), and insulin (0.61±0.29 vs. 1.46±0.81 ng/mL) were significantly lower (P≤.05) for agave nectar-fed mice compared to sucrose-fed mice respectively. No statistically significant differences in total cholesterol or triglycerides were detected. These results suggest that in comparison to sucrose, agave nectar may have a positive influence on weight gain and glucose control. However, more research with a larger sample of animals and/or with human subjects is warranted.

Keywords: cholesterol; fructose; glucose; obesity; triglycerides.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism*
  • Adiposity / drug effects
  • Agave*
  • Animals
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism*
  • Diet
  • Dietary Sucrose / adverse effects
  • Dietary Sucrose / pharmacology*
  • Fructose / adverse effects
  • Fructose / pharmacology
  • Insulin / blood*
  • Lipids / blood
  • Male
  • Mice, Inbred ICR
  • Obesity / blood
  • Obesity / etiology
  • Plant Nectar / adverse effects
  • Plant Nectar / pharmacology*
  • Weight Gain / drug effects*


  • Blood Glucose
  • Dietary Sucrose
  • Insulin
  • Lipids
  • Plant Nectar
  • Fructose