Sadly for the sweet tooths out there, it seems like consensus is slowly building that sugar is the devil, the root cause of much disease—and not just diabetes, but heart disease and cancer as well.
Of course, nobody has ever though that it was good for you, but it used to be that the worst things people said about sugar were that it rotted your teeth and offered only empty calories that you should really be spending on more nutritive foods like fresh produce and roast chicken. But now many experts support the idea that sugar is actually a toxin—and not just high-fructose corn syrup, either, but good old-fashioned sugar, even if it's as raw and brown and organic as can be. Yes, when your grandma baked you cookies as a child, she may have been poisoning you. And when you gave your own children "wholesome" homemade treats like fresh-squeezed lemonade you may have been doing the same to them.
For a long, detailed and (I think) fascinating examination of the subject, check out Gary Taubes's recent New York Times article "Is Sugar Toxic?" . He writes that eating too much sugar (like I do) leads your cells to become resistant to the effects of insulin, which then sets off a cascade of bad health effects. And don't think that it's only fat people who are at risk. It seems that even people (like me) who manage to stay thin despite eating too much sugar are still at increased risk of disease.
The subject of sugar is extra-relevant right now because Easter is just days away, and for many of us that means Peeps, among other confections. It's unpleasant to think that those friendly-looking marshmallows we've been indulging in since childhood are out to kill us, but it's probably something we should keep in mind. Try to follow this sensible advice I found on the American Institute for Cancer Research website:
A quarter-cup of jelly beans (a portion the size of a golf ball or egg) or a serving of five marshmallow chicks has about 160 calories . . . When springtime candy comes out, limit portions, substitute it for some other higher calorie treat, and eat it when you can sit down and really taste and fully enjoy it. Behavior researchers advise us to limit how much we bring home, because the odds are that once it comes home with you, it may disappear faster than you planned."