“Healthy Coke” is trending on TikTok, but is it good for you?

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Here’s what health experts should keep in mind before trying a glass of the new soft drink that has gone viral on social media platforms. Alejandro Moreno de Carlos/Stocksy

If you spend any time on TikTok, you’ve probably seen the latest trend go viral on the popular social media platform: a concoction called the “healthy cola.”

“Healthy Cola” describes a very simple combination of sparkling seltzer water and balsamic vinegar.

TikTok user Amanda Jones, a California-based actress, made the drink a viral sensation after posting a video of it on her account. She says the idea for the blend came from her Pilates teacher.

In the video, she says, “It tastes just like coke.”

What really made the drink viral was the series of videos made by others grimacing in disgust and gagging after a sip, joking about how it doesn’t exactly taste like the famous American soft drink.

So how healthy is “healthy cola”?

According to experts, the brew’s name is somewhat misleading. The drink could have negative effects on your digestion and oral health.

Here’s why they say it’s important to research new health trends and why it’s important to remember that just because something goes viral doesn’t mean it’s true.

In her original video, Jones says that “healthy coke” “tastes just like coke.”

She didn’t expect what started out as a fun escapist video to grow into such a big deal. She told CNN’s Jeanne Moos in an interview that she “didn’t think people would get so upset over a fun drink.”

Is it worth getting upset about?

Recently, the American Dental Association (ADA) released a statement on a new study showing that these types of beverages can cause some wear and tear on teeth.

“New research shows that acids in sugar-free drinks could attack tooth enamel as a recipe that mixes flavored sparkling water with balsamic vinegar to create a so-called ‘healthier’ alternative to soda takes TikTok by storm,” the ADA said.

The new study, published online in the journal JADA Foundational Science, looked at how non-carbonated bottled water, flavored sparkling water and regular sparkling water could potentially cause tooth erosion, according to the press release.

Researchers soaked human teeth that had recently been extracted in seven different sugar-free beverages, as well as a sugar-containing soda pop for comparison. They soaked the teeth for a period of 24 hours. This has been found to equate to one “year” worth of exposure to these different beverages.

The results showed that acids in soda with sugar and sugar-free soda eroded tooth enamel.

They discovered that it was the acids and not the type of sweetener in these drinks that caused the enamel erosion. Erosion has also been shown in teeth soaked in flavored sparkling water, but to a lesser extent than with sugar and sugar-free soda.

Plain bottled water, still and unflavored, was the only drink that showed no evidence of enamel erosion.

When asked what effect the TikTok drink’s balsamic vinegar and seltzer water mixture might have on teeth, Kenneth L. Allen, DDS, MBA, clinical professor and associate chair in the Department of Cariology and Comprehensive Care at NYU Dentistry, said, told Healthline that this is the case. It’s important to note that both balsamic vinegar (which has a pH between 2 and 3) and seltzer (which has a pH that varies between 3.5 and 5, depending on the brand). varies) are acidic.

“For comparison, a neutral pH is 7. Demineralization of tooth enamel can occur when the pH falls below 5.5. Demineralization weakens the enamel, the hard – and shiny – outer covering of teeth. This makes your teeth rougher and increases the likelihood of plaque, tooth decay and gum disease,” Allen said. “So this blend gives the consumer a drink that’s more acidic than seltzer alone.”

He added that the effect of this acidic drink on tooth enamel “is also affected by the length of contact.”

“Do you sip your ‘healthy coke’ for more than an hour or do you drink it quickly? The longer the contact, the more destruction of the tooth enamel,” he said.

But what about other acidic drinks and are there alternatives to this one?

“Clear water is the best drink out there,” Allen explained. “If you want to drink more acidic drinks, there are a few ‘tricks’. Use a straw, avoid prolonged drinking periods, wait an hour after drinking an acidic drink to brush your teeth (this gives saliva a chance to repair tooth enamel) and use a fluoride-based toothpaste.”

Amber Pankonin, MS, LMNT, a registered dietitian and personal chef, said that from a nutritional standpoint, “healthy cola” is “really no different than drinking fizzy water and balsamic dressing on your dinner salad.”

“As a cook, I’d rather save the balsamic vinegar for my salad or as a dip for my bread than add it to my drink,” she added.

She said one digestive concern people may have about this drink is that it “could be harmful” to people suffering from GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) or acid reflux.

Additionally, she said it could negatively affect people with heartburn or heartburn related to pregnancy.

“Foods and drinks that are very acidic can irritate the esophagus and stomach, which could be a problem, especially with heartburn,” she explained.

When asked what the nutritional benefits might be, Pankonin said high-quality balsamic vinegar may contain antioxidants that may actually be beneficial for your skin and heart health.

“Depending on the type or brand of balsamic vinegar used, some may contain more added sugars than others. So it’s important to check the differences between brands and read the label for nutritional information. Keep in mind that balsamic vinegar isn’t zero-calorie,” she said.

She explained that it contains calories from carbohydrates, with most providing around 14 calories per tablespoon.

Pankonin also pointed out that this type of high-quality balsamic vinegar “can be expensive,” and with the rise in food costs that many are experiencing nationwide, those costs “can quickly add up if you’re adding it every time you have sparkling water.” drink”.

When asked if there were healthier alternatives for those who enjoy fizzy drinks, Pankonin said you could add “any type of fruit” (think lemon, lime, or even berries) to sparkling water and “it will give you a similar flavor profile.” would give. ”

“Adding acid to a flavored, zero-calorie carbonated drink gives the drink a taste similar to that of cola or regular soda,” she explained.

Before trying beverage-related trends like “healthy colas,” Allen urges people to be “an educated consumer.”

He said you should look up the pH of the beverage you’re drinking, and since seltzer water varies in pH, try to choose one that’s “closest to 7.”

Pankonin said the explosion of these kinds of trends sheds light on the fact that “people like simple hacks” when it comes to what they drink and eat, and they willingly “take advice from people who offer simple strategies.” .

“These strategies may be well-intentioned and helpful for some people, but may not be appropriate for everyone,” she said. “It’s definitely important to be cautious before jumping into the next nutrition trend or hack in the food and beverage industry.”

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