Sugar and Health

Appears in
Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

  • About

sugar and health have shared a connection from the earliest times. Originally considered the ultimate medicine to cure stomach ailments, fever, and the plague, sugar is now considered complicit in many chronic diseases. As early as 500 b.c.e., North Indian Sanskrit texts documented the processes of extracting sugar from sugarcane, with accompanying information on the medicinal uses of sugar and recipes for fermented drinks and rice pudding. Later Greek and Roman writings cited India as the source of sugar in Hellenic and Roman cultures. The Roman physician Dioscorides (40–90 c.e.) wrote that sugar “has the consistence of salt” and was good for the stomach, bladder, and kidneys. See medicinal uses of sugar.