Old Fashion Coca Cola

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First
time I had a drink of Coca Cola, I was at an Air Force beach in
Cam Ranh Bay. My father, the mayor of the town then, was the only
Vietnamese allowed to bringing his family to the beach to mingle
with American officers and their family. A small shack at one end
of the sandy beach sold hamburgers and soft drinks. That was where
we, my siblings and I got a taste of the wonderful American food.

Settled
in the States after the fall of South Vietnam, we were busy rebuilding
our life. Food was something to keep us from getting hungry, not
to dwell on too much about. Even then, I never liked to drink Coke,
Pepsi or other sodas. Explaining my reluctance to have any types
of soft drink, I reasoned that maybe the carbonate gas upsets my
stomach, there may be too much caffeine, or may be nothing would
ever taste as good as the Coca Cola I drank when I was so young.

Moving
to a small Caribbean island to retire, I found myself enjoying Coca
Cola again. The drink gave orange juice or freshly squeezed limeade
a good run for my consumption. Surprised about the change, my husband
inquired and got my answer that "it's tasted good here."
His husbandly reply to my comment was "it's just your imagination."

Felling
curious, I looked up information about Coca Cola beverage on the
Web. The answer I found surprised me. Since early 1980's, due to
a surplus of corn, corn producer in the US turned cornstarch into
high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and almost gave it away to food
producing company. From then on, because of HFCS is cheaper and
more convenient to use than sugar, most US soft drinks are made
with corn syrup. Connoisseurs of soft drinks though, complained
that the taste is not the same as if made with sugar. Nowadays,
only soft drinks produced outside the US, are made with sugar. Picking
up a bottle of Cola at home, I read its label. Sure enough, it was
made in Venezuela. It has no HFCS, just good old azucar (sugar).
No wonder it tasted so good.

HFCS
contains two basic sugar building blocks, fructose and glucose,
in roughly equal amounts. A Louisiana State University researcher
mentioned that fructose appears to behave more like fat with respect
to the hormones involved in body weight regulation.

A
professor of nutrition at the University of California, Davis said
that consuming too much fructose may contribute to weight gain.
And a University of Minnesota study found that the action of fructose
in the liver, where it is converted into the chemical backbone of
triglycerides, elevated levels of triglycerides thus may increase
risk of heart disease. The professor and researchers, though, did
caution readers that there was no in-depth study done on this matter.

Obesity
is an obvious problem for most folks in the US. Diabetes, both types
are on the rise. I wonder if the consumption of HFCS could be a
factor. I do not think food-producing companies would stop using
HFCS in ready-made food and drinks sold in the US anytime soon.
A few cents cheaper in the production cost would translate to a
lot of profit. Plus there may be another study comes out soon saying
that there is nothing wrong with corn syrup. Even if it may cause
no harm to the human body, I still trust my taste buds more, and
will stick with the old fashion Coca Cola. Problem is I cannot find
it easily in the States. That is one of the reasons we left the
US. Stay tuned for other reasons.

July
2, 2005

Tinah
Tran [send her mail], an
engineer, lived in the US for 30 years, and is now retired on a
Caribbean island with her husband. Other articles from her can be
read at Slant
eye view of the world
.

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