Agave é um género de plantas suculentas da família Agavaceae, originárias sobretudo do México e em menor grau dos Estados Unidos, América Central e América do Sul. é composto por 183 espécies,
Agave nectar has been used for centuries as a folk remedy for its medicinal properties. The Aztecs mixed it with salt and used it for skin infections and wounds. 1
The natives of Mexico used the agave to make pens, nails, and needles, as well as string to sew and make weavings. Leaf tea or tincture taken orally is used to treat constipation and excess gas. It is also used as a diuretic. Root tea or tincture is taken orally to treat arthritic joints. Several agave species are also considered to have potential as effective bioenergy crops. Agave's ability to grow in naturally water-limited environments could help to reduce the food vs fuel trade-off.
The Navajo similarly found many uses for the agave plant. A beverage is squeezed from the baked fibers, and the heads can be baked or boiled, pounded into flat sheets, sun dried, and stored for future use. The baked, dried heads are also boiled and made into an edible paste, eaten whole, or made into soup. The leaves are eaten boiled, and the young, tender flowering stalks and shoots are roasted and eaten as well. The fibers are used to make rope, the leaves are used to line baking pits, and the sharp pointed leaf tips are used to make basketry awls.
Most agave sweeteners are produced from the blue agave plant, that thrive in the volcanic soils of Southern Mexico.. The nectar made from the plant is known in Mexico as aguamiel, or “honey water”, the substance used for syrup production (and, when fermented, tequila).
When dried out, the stalks can be used to make didgeridoos.
The impact of agave nectar on blood sugar (as measured by its glycemic index and glycemic load) is comparable to fructose, which has a much lower glycemic index and glycemic load than table sugar (sucrose). However, consumption of large amounts of fructose can be deleterious and can trigger fructose malabsorption, metabolic syndrome, hypertriglyceridemia, decreased glucose tolerance, hyperinsulinemia, and accelerated uric acid formation.
There are four major parts of the agave that are edible: the flowers, the leaves, the stalks or basal rosettes, and the sap.
Agave nectar consists primarily of fructose and glucose. One source gives 47% fructose and 16% glucose; another gives 56% fructose and 20% glucose. These differences probably reflect variation from one vendor of agave nectar to another.
The agave, especially Agave murpheyi, was a major food source for the prehistoric indigenous people of the Southwestern United States. The Hohokam of southern Arizona cultivated large areas of agave.
Restos humanos que datam pelo menos 10.000 anos mostram os primeiros usos de Agave para alimentos e fibras. Parte da cultura humana desde antiguidade, quando os conquistadores espanhóis chegaram em 1492. Por volta de 1520, foi exportado para o Velho Mundo como um alimento asteca. No final dos anos 1400 e início dos anos 1500, os conquistadores espanhóis encontraram o povo Nahuatl produzido uma bebida fermentada chamada de “pulque”, que era feita com a fermentação da planta agave, usada principalmente em cerimônias religiosas e para fins medicinais.
When the agave has grown to 7-10 years old, the leaves of the plant are cut off, revealing the core of the plant (called the “pina”). When harvested, the pina resembles a giant pineapple and can weigh in at 50 to 150 pounds.
To make the agave nectar, sap is extracted from the pina, filtered, and heated at a low temperature, which breaks down the carbohydrates into sugars. Lighter and darker varieties of agave nectar are made from the same plants. Because of the low temperatures used in processing many varieties (under 118°F) raw foods enthusiasts generally regard agave nectar as a raw food.
The juice from many species of agave can cause acute contact dermatitis. It will produce reddening and blistering lasting one to two weeks. Episodes of itching may recur up to a year thereafter, though the rash is no longer visible. Irritation is, in part, caused by calcium oxalate raphides. Dried parts of the plants can be handled with bare hands with little or no effect. If the skin is pierced deeply enough by the needle-like ends of the leaf from a vigorously growing plant, this can also cause blood vessels in the surrounding area to erupt and an area some 6–7 cm across appear to be bruised.This may last up to three weeks.