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The story of sugar and tobacco are very similar. Both products were first produced through slave labour and were seen as beneficial to health, but the sudden mass consumption from the mid-17th century created health risks.
Today, tobacco is widely acknowledged as addictive, but sugar can also drive responses similar to what we see from addiction. In the 21st century, the grip of sugar is stronger than that of tobacco or even alcohol. Sugar is also central to the world's economy and cultural heritage.
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Sugarcane is the world's third most valuable crop, yet it has little benefit to humanity. Obesity, cancer, dementia, heart disease and diabetes has spread to nations where sugar-based carbohydrates are available in abundance.
We need to take a step back and understand how ...
Humans used to live on a diet containing very little sugar and almost no refined carbohydrates. Sugarcane was mostly used as a fodder crop to fatten pigs.
The Portuguese found that Brazil had good conditions for sugar plantations. Brazil established a slave-based plantation economy and introduced its sugarcane to the Caribbean around 1647. This led to the growth which came to sustain the sugar craze of Western Europe.
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