Quick note: Agave nectar and agave syrup refer to the same thing, and I'll use the two terms interchangeably throughout the article.

Caleb Dueck

By Caleb Dueck | March 18, 2024

A Quick Summary

You might not have time to read an in-depth article, so here's my condensed opinion:

Overall I like honey better, but I'll start with what I liked about agave.

Agave nectar tastes a bit like organic maple syrup (which I loved), and as a topping, I prefer its taste over honey.

Also, honey and agave nectar are pretty similar in terms of back-of-the-bottle nutrition facts.

The only difference I saw was that per tablespoon, agave nectar has one less gram of sugar (16) than honey (17).

Agave is lower on the glycemic index than honey, so it can satisfy cravings quicker, which can obviously help you lose weight.

The problem with agave is that its sugar contains a terribly high ratio of fructose, which can lead to high diabetes and an increase in belly fat, among other conditions.

It actually has more fructose than plain cane sugar, making it potentially one of the least healthy sweeteners you can consume.

Also, it's distinct fruity, almost-blueberry syrup flavor means it won't work in as many dishes or baked goods as clover honey.

Since you're reading this on a honey seller's website, I won't bore you with how I feel about our honey :)

The only thing I'll say is that imported honey can contain artificial sweeteners and additives like high fructose corn syrup.

So, you should always buy straight from a beekeeper instead of imported honey on grocery store shelves, since beekeeper honey is much more likely to be 100% pure honey.

Now, let's go more in depth.

First Test: Taste

Now this is nitty-gritty, frontline journalism... I put them both on a spoon to see which I liked better. We'll get to health benefits after, but who really cares how healthy they are if they don't taste good?

  • Agave

    I had never tried blue agave before, but in my opinion it taste sort of like a slightly fruity maple syrup (pure maple syrup, not the corn syrup stuff), which was a pleasant surprise. It's a strong flavor, a bit more bold than honey, which is right up my alley. I'll put it this way... if I had to choose flavor-wise which to put on my pancakes or in my coffee, I would go with agave.

  • Honey

    I tried our clover honey and the flavor really popped. It's bolder and sweeter than most honey I grew up eating (don't get me started on fake grocery store honey), and I can eat pure honey by the spoonful, Sperry Honey or not. I'd say honey isn't as bold as agave syrup, so honey will probably taste better when used for cooking or used in baked goods. But as a topping, I generally like agave more.

My Conclusion

I didn't expect to like agave nectar this much, but it tastes amazing. I'm half-Canadian so I've been brain-washed to enjoy pure maple syrup from a young age, and agave tastes extremely similar. If you told me blue agave was just maple syrup, but slightly blueberry-infused, I would've believed you.

If you love strong flavors and like trying new things, you'll probably love agave nectar. But if you find pure maple syrup to be too strong of a flavor, you probably won't like it that much.

That said, honey being slightly less bold actually works in its favor in some ways.

Honey will work well in more recipes, so if you're looking for a kitchen staple to consistently bake or cook with, stick with honey (pun intended). Also if you have a simple palette (no judgement here) and prefer less bold of a flavor, stick with honey.

Odds are you've tried honey at one point in your life, so you'll know what to expect, but if you've never bought straight from a beekeeper, please do it.

Pure honey doesn't have any additives or corn syrups, so it tastes way better than the cheap imported stuff on the grocery store shelves.

Second Test: Health Benefits

Now that you know which taste you prefer, let's see compare their healthiness side by side. Full disclosure: None of this should be take as professional medical advice... but you probably already knew that:)

Calories in Honey and Agave

Honey and agave are closer in many ways than people realize. Both honey and agave nectar contain 60 calories per tablespoon, and they contain roughly the same amount of sugar. A tablespoon of agave nectar holds 16 grams of sugar while a tablespoon of honey contains 17 grams. As you might expect, sugar represents 100% of the carbohydrates in both honey and agave.

  • Agave

    Since most of Agave nectar's sugar content comes from fructose as opposed to glucose, it has a pretty low score on the glycemic index (between 15 to 30). That said, here's a quote worth noting from Healthline:

    "The harmful effects of agave β€” and sugar in general β€” have very little to do with the glycemic index but everything to do with the large amounts of fructose β€” and agave nectar is very high in fructose."
  • Honey

    Many would agree that pure honey has a glycemic index of between 50 and 60, depending on the variety of honey. This is a medium-to-high score (depending on who you ask) compared to most foods, which makes sense since honey is more dense with carbs than most foods. The score means honey gets absorbed into your blood stream quickly, which can lead to increases in blood sugar, which will make you hungrier.

Weight Loss (and Fructose)

In general, I'd give honey the edge in terms of weight loss, mostly because agave syrup contains a borderline dangerous amount of fructose. Excess fructose can lead to all kinds of health problems and increase your risk of diabetes and weight gain. Fructose aside, when you're trying to lose weight, you want to avoid excess sweets in general, and neither honey nor agave will magically help you lose weight. You should be consuming both honey and agave nectar in small quantities regardless of which sweetener you choose. That said, since it's lower on the glycemic index, agave will probably make you full faster because it doesn't raise your blood sugar as much as honey. So, while there's a case to be made for craving less food, I'm sticking with honey since it contains less fructose than agave.

  • Agave Nectar (1 tbsp)

    Sugar Composition:

    • 80% Fructose
    • 20% Glucose

    Calories: 60

    Carbs: 16g

    • Dietary Fiber: 0g
    • Total Sugars: 16g
    • Added Sugars: 0g

    Total Fat: 0g

    • Saturated Fat: 0g
    • Trans Fat: 0g

    Cholesterol: 0g

    Sodium: 0g

    Protein: 0g

  • Honey (1 tbsp)

    Sugar Composition:

    • 38.2% Fructose
    • 31.3% Glucose
    • 17.2% Water
    • 13.3% Other Sugars, Vitamins, Etc.

    Calories: 60

    Carbs: 17g

    • Dietary Fiber: 0g
    • Total Sugars: 17g
    • Added Sugars: 0g

    Total Fat: 0g

    • Saturated Fat: 0g
    • Trans Fat: 0g

    Cholesterol: 0g

    Sodium: 0g

    Protein: 0g

Sore Throats and Coughs

Both honey and agave nectar have been shown to decrease sore throat pain and reduce coughing. They both have a thick consistency that can help coat your throat and thicken the mucus slightly, making it easier to expel through coughing. Personally, I'm giving honey the edge here as well since it's a bit thicker and there's been more research on it than agave. I recommend you mix it with some hot drink like tea or even warm water. Keep in mind, caffeine can make sore throats worse due to dehydration, so make sure to avoid coffee and caffeinated tea if your throat is sore.

Our winner? I mean... c'mon.

I'm sticking with honey. I honestly loved how agave tastes, and would prefer it as a topping (depending on the day 😊) if it didn't contain so much fructose. That much fructose scares me, plus honey is more useful when cooking and baking, so I'm going with 100% pure honey.

While we're on the topic of fructose, not all honey gets off completely scot-free. As I mentioned earlier, much of the imported honey on the grocery store shelves is filled with artificial sweeteners and fillers such as high fructose corn syrup. If you want pure honey, make sure to get it from American beekeepers. I recently made a huge directory of local honey sellers, and I highly recommend you check it out.

Common FAQs

A blue agave field.

What’s the difference between blue agave and other agave?

Blue agave is just a certain species of agave commonly cultivated in the Jalisco region of Mexico. The blue agave plant has distinctive blue-green leaves with sharp tips and can take several years to mature before it is harvested for its sap to make agave nectar.

Most commercially available agave nectar comes from blue agave. This species is mostly used for agave nectar production due to its high sugar content and suitability for cultivation.

A baby resting.

Which is better for babies?

Neither. Both honey and agave nectar carry the risk of infant botulism, so you'll want to avoid giving either to children younger than one year.

An overhead shot of veggies and fruits against a green background.

Which is better for vegans?

Honey is an animal product, so it wouldn't fit in the vegan diet at all. Agave syrup on the other hand, is a plant based product made from the sap of the agave plant, making it okay for vegans to consume.

Drop a Comment Below

I want to hear what you think! Drop a comment below and I'll try to respond as soon as possible.

Back to blog