One of the peculiar novelties about Costa Rica is the cultural belief that sugar has lots of health benefits.

This could be due to copious planting and harvesting of sugar cane within the country, or it could be because there are not very many country-wide communications except for advertising.

Unlike the United States, you can say anything you want in advertising here, without getting sued. I have translated the claims on these sugar packets so you can see what I mean.

Costa Rica sugar packet

It doesn’t cause diabetes

Sugar doesn’t cause diabetes. Obesity, family genetics, an unbalanced energy in foods are some of the causes of this illness.



Sugar contains vitamin A, which provides good eyesight, helps maintaining the bones, the skin and the teeth.



Sugar provides energy that our body will use in running different organs such as the brain and the muscles.



Sugar is not what’s fattening, a sedentary lifestyle and an unbalanced diet is.
With a daily recommended intake of 2000 calories, this sachet contains only 20 calories.

I was at the feria once, and I ordered batidos (fruit shakes) for all of my kids, sin azucar (without sugar).

The dueña asked me three times – “Sin azucar? Verdad?” Yes, I said, no sugar.

Sugar is good for your BRAIN!

She left me with this admonition (Azucar esta bien para la mente!) and went off to make our batidos, convinced I was depriving my children of an essential nutrient.

Then she made this graceful funny spin, which she has apparently done for years – turning to the side, as she went between the counter and the wall, and hefting up her belly with one hand so she could fit through the gap.