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Beverage Bonanza

Courtesy Coca-Cola

Soda is sold almost everywhere and can be found in almost every flavor or variety: vanilla, lemon-lime, berries and cream-with or without caffeine or calories. Soda seems to pervade our lives every day, especially on a college campus like Mills.

Freshwoman Emma Giboney says she drinks soda here at Mills, but never drank it back home in Seattle. She says it’s because soda is so accessible here, not to mention free at Founders Commons. However, Giboney only drinks soda at Mills “a couple times a week.” So before taking a sip of that conveniently refreshing Wild Cherry Pepsi, a glance at the nutrition facts may be in order.

All sodas are made up of basically the same ingredients, with artificial flavors added to enhance the beverages. Sodas contain carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup, acids, and natural and artificial flavorings. Colors are also added, such as a caramel color to create the trademark hue of sodas such as Pepsi and Coca-Cola.

Out of all the ingredients, high fructose corn syrup is the one consumers should pay the most attention to. The huge boom in high fructose corn syrup consumption in the U.S. started in the 1970s when a way to create high fructose corn syrup in large quantities was developed, according to an article written in 2003 by certified culinary professional Linda Forristal, “The Murky World of High Fructose Corn Syrup.”

The process to create high fructose corn syrup, although complicated, is actually cheaper than paying for equal amounts of sugar. Since the taste is so similar, many companies use high fructose corn syrup instead of sugar, despite consumer health concerns.

A 2004 American Diabetes Association study on how sugar-sweetened beverages (sweetened by natural sugar or high fructose corn syrup) affected adult women’s weight gain and development of diabetes recorded some interesting results. Women who drank sugar-sweetened sodas gained the most weight out of the 51,000 women in the study, and 740 of those women reported getting diabetes after the eight-year study. This study linked consumption of high fructose corn syrup with developing diabetes.

Freshwoman Livia Bell doesn’t drink soda at all. Her reasoning is quite simple: “Because it melts your bones!” she said. “That’s what my mom told me all my life.”

Surprisingly, that idea may be accurate. According to a 2000 study called “Liquid Candy: How Soft Drinks Are Harming America’s Health” by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, drinking too many soft drinks may increase the risk of osteoporosis, a disease that reduces bone mineral density. This is because drinking large amounts of soda can lead to deficient calcium levels and increased phosphate levels, causing calcium to be pulled out of the bones and lowering their density. This problem is clear when looking at the bone health of those who choose to open a soda can instead of a milk carton in comparison with that of others.

That same study highlighted some of the other health concerns connected with the ingredients of soft drinks. According to the study, artificial colorings such as Yellow No. 5 found in soft drinks may be harmful because they can “promote attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder in some children.”

However, there are some healthier alternatives when it comes to soft drinks. Or at least not-quite-as-bad options.

Companies such as Hansen’s Natural Soda make many of the same flavors as popular sodas but have no caffeine, artificial colors, or preservatives. However, Hansen’s Natural Soda does still contain high fructose corn syrup.

Organic sodas are also another option. Blue Sky Beverage Company manufactures organic soda products that contain filtered carbonated water and organic cane juice: all without any high fructose corn syrup or caffeine.

Beverage Bonanza

Bonne Marie Bautista

In Martin Scorsese’s film, The Departed, Leonardo DiCaprio’s character orders a glass of cranberry juice from a bar. A fellow patron looks at him with a quizzical eye and asks, “What, are you on your period or something?” This question is a reference to the belief that cranberry juice helps alleviate menstrual cramping.

It’s no secret that fruit is good for you and a central part of maintaining a balanced diet. Some fruit juices are so beneficial that they are used for treating various health problems.

According to, a Web site dedicated to publishing the latest medical information, drinking unsweetened cranberry juice daily can prevent urinary tract infections, which occur more often in women than men. Cranberry juice, along with prune juice and pomegranate juice, is also an effective diuretic and helps alleviate constipation.

But what about those lesser known juices that even the best of us are sometimes hesitant to try? According to Jeremy Crowell, Mills’ Assistant Dining Service Manager and Campus Nutritionist, aloe vera juice is used to combat irritable bowel syndrome while pomegranate juice is used to decrease inflammation. He also said that pineapples contain an enzyme called bromelain, which digests protein. It is because of this that many people drink pineapple juice to help with digestion. Crowell also pointed out that guavas have “antimicrobial properties” that help cleanse the body. defines antimicrobial as “a drug that kills bacteria or prevents them from multiplying.”

Other members of the Mills community drink different types of juices for various reasons.

Junior June Coryell said that lately she has been drinking palm juice. “I think it has antioxidants,” she said.

Even so, she said she hasn’t noticed any changes in her body because of it. Antioxidants are sought after so highly because they reduce cell damage.

Mills volleyball Head Coach Daniel Rasay also believes in the power of palm juice. He drinks Acai, a type of palm juice, for its purported health effects. “Whenever I go to Jamba [Juice] I always order Acai because it’s high in antioxidants,” he said.
Rasay also referenced the latest Goji berry juice craze. Many in the alternative medicine scene swear by it because of its alleged richness in nutrients and antioxidants.

Rasay, who has not actually consumed the berry, said that he has heard that Goji berries benefit a person’s overall health.
“Supposedly it’s a cure-all for everything,” he said.

In addition to Goji berries, tart cherries are one of the latest fruits to appear on the juice scene. Bridget Mansell, Mills’ Athletic Trainer and assistant swim coach, referenced a study in a 2006 edition of the Journal of Training and Conditioning on the benefits of tart cherry juice for athletes.

She said the study showed tart cherry juice helps in “recovering muscle tears quicker.”

Another study was published in an article on the online British Journal of Sports Medicine 2006. It said tart cherry juice decreases “some of the symptoms of exercise-induced muscle damage,” such as weakness and pain.

Like any food or drink, too much fruit juice can be unhealthy. Crowell said, “Studies have shown that high sugar diets, particularly in regards to high consumption of fruit juice, decreases your immune system.”

He said that this occurs in both processed and freshly squeezed juice when “vitamin C and the sugars in fruit juice compete for absorption into the cell.” Crowell explained that the “starch-derived” sugar, such as high fructose corn syrup can lead to inflammation, cardiovascular disease, type II diabetes and obesity.

Crowell said, “If you’re looking to get your fruit serving for the day, it’s best to consume the whole fruit rather than the juice.”

According to Crowell, fruit juice lacks the fiber found in the skin and pulp of fruit. Because fiber is a “bulking agent” that causes one to become full, a person who drinks fruit juice will consume calories without feeling sated.

Crowell plans to propose getting a juicer for Founders and the Teashop. He welcomes any student suggestions on the matter, particularly in providing different fruit juices or fresh- squeezed juice recipes.