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Our Sugar Obsession is Nothing New

sugar obsession
If you look at the latest crop of diet books, you’ll find that sugar is the new fat. The Zero Sugar Diet, Blast the Sugar Out, and I Quit Sugar are among the many books that promise to help you crush your cravings, because research has increasingly shown that our love of sugar is more to blame for obesity and diabetes than fatty foods — although the two are often paired in a toxic twinship.
Smithsonian magazine has a fascinating little article on America’s love affair with sugar, and while you may think that modern processed foods have stoked our sweet passion, that sugar jones actually goes back centuries.
Back in colonial days, sugar was scarce and therefore expensive, but if you had the bucks you could indulge your sweet tooth with fancy pastries and confections. That probably contributed to George Washington’s mouthful of assorted whatnot (they weren’t wooden) after his teeth all went bad. (I recently had an opportunity to see a set of his fake chompers at his home in Mount Vernon, Va., and they are a piece of work.)
Speaking of teeth, Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History analyzed the skull of Anne Wolseley Calvert, the wife of Maryland Gov. Charles Calvert, and her sweet tooth may have gotten the best of her. At the time of her death, she had lost more than 20 teeth and many others had rotted to the root. Sure, there were toothbrushes and toothpaste, but that stuff was not minty fresh. It often was made of crushed seashells or charcoal. Yum.
Aside from those sugar-chomping rich colonial types, the average American only ate around 6 pounds of sugar a year. I say, “only,” because … dare to guess how much we pack away now?
Take that 6 pounds and multiply it 21 times.
Kinda makes your teeth hurt, huh?
And it’s not the stuff of fancy folk — they’re all eating kale and cauliflower now. Because high-fructose corn syrup is so cheap and plentiful, lower-income Americans now consume the most added sugars, contributing to our ever-increasing diabetes rate.
Between doughnuts, sugary cereals and commercial smoothies, breakfast can often be the most sugar-loaded meal of the day. Here’s a quick recipe from Blast the Sugar Out author Dr. Ian K. Smith that’s a slightly sweet twist on the ubiquitous avocado toast.

Avocado and Grapefruit Toasts
Recipe type: Breakfast
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4 servings
  • 1 ripe avocado, peeled, pitted and thinly sliced
  • 4 slices 100 percent whole-grain or sprouted-grain bread, toasted
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 ruby red grapefruit
  • Honey
  1. Arrange one quarter of the sliced avocado on each toast slice and season lightly with salt and pepper.
  2. Using a sharp knife, cut the peel and pith away from the grapefruit membrane. Hold the fruit in one hand and carefully cut the segments away from the membrane, dropping them into a bowl. Squeeze the membrane to extract any juice left in it.
  3. Divide the grapefruit segments among the avocado-topped toast slices; reserve the juice for later or drink it with your breakfast.
  4. Drizzle a little honey over each toast slice and serve.

Are you cutting back on your sugar consumption? Here’s another sweet but low-sugar recipe to try! —Gail

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