Even alchemists played with the ingredient’s properties and claimed to have uncovered its hidden secrets. In 1555, the seer Nostradamus published a little book about cosmetics and confections that paid tribute to sugar’s transformative power: Candied fruit became a kind of edible, man-made miracle.
Sweetness was meant to be irresistible.
We are born with a sweet tooth. Babies drink in sugar with their mother’s milk. Sweetness represents an instant energy boost, a fuel that kept our ancestors going in a harsher world where taste buds evolved to distinguish health-giving ripeness and freshness from the dangers of bitter, sour, toxic foods. Sugar gives us drug-like pleasures – lab rats deprived of their sugar-water fix exhibit classic signs of withdrawal. When things are going well, we blissfully say, “Life is sweet.”
And now sweetness is linked with death and disease. Sugars are themselves toxins, some researchers suggest, that cause obesity, diabetes, hyper- tension and Alzheimer’s disease. Sugar has joined salt and fat on the list of dietary evils. Governments and health experts are urging people to cut back their daily intake.
And because of its sweetness, once they had tasted it, they could scarcely get enough…
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