What it is: Golden-brown liquid traditionally derived from the boiled sap of the blue agave plant. Less viscous than honey, but thicker than maple syrup, its intensely sweet.
Health impact: Glycemic index (GI) of 15, the lowest of any sweetener. (Note that GI only measures glucose, so numbers don't tell the whole story; agave is 92 percent fructose (LuAnn adds, that is a whole other concern!) and only 8 percent glucose.) Contains more calories per teaspoon (20), than white sugar (about 15).
Best in: Soft-textured foods such as smoothies, drinks, salad dressings, pies, cheesecake, and custards. Can also be used in breads, cakes, and cookies.
How to use: Substitute 2/3 cup agave for 1 cup white sugar; in baking, reduce other liquid by about one-third.
Next: Brown rice syrup