Balsamic vinegar and soda water TikTok trend gets dubbed 'healthy Coke': Experts chime in

Dentists and dietitians tell Fox News Digital the viral ‘healthy Coke’ trend on TikTok could damage teeth and more

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A viral drink trend that combines balsamic vinegar and soda water is being tested by curious foodies because some people claim it tastes like a "healthy Coke," but dentists and dietitians are warning that it might not be as healthy as it seems.

TikTok user Amanda Jones brought attention to the unusual drink combo when she shared a video of herself making it on Tuesday, June 6. Jones tells viewers it's a trusty recipe her Pilates instructor uses to stay away from traditional soda.

"It’s a healthy alternative to a Coke," Jones said in her video. "I’m not joking with you, it tastes just like a Coke, and you’re going to think I’m insane."

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Jones used a guava-flavored sparkling water in her video, but she said the balsamic vinegar can be mixed with any flavor or sparkling water brand.

The video has since been viewed more than 6.4 million times and has led many others to try the recipe. TikTok users have conducted taste tests and have documented their reactions to the video-sharing app. Some agree with Jones that the recipe tastes like Coke or that it tastes delicious while others don’t seem to agree.

In a follow-up video, Jones clarified that she’s been making the drink for about two years, and she only uses a splash of balsamic vinegar, which is equivalent to about half a shot glass. Using more than that would likely make the drink taste bitter, she explained.

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Fox News Digital reached out to Jones for comment on TikTok.

While Jones' viral drink recipe appears to have received approval from Italian American celebrity Chef Giada Pamela De Laurentiis, experts who care for teeth and balanced diets are sounding the alarm on the potential risks associated with vinegar and soda water.

Lots of vinegar can be bad for teeth

Balsamic vinegar is flavored vinegar that hails from Italy and is made with fresh grape juice. (iStock)

Rhonda Kalasho, a Los Angeles-based doctor of dental surgery and CEO of the TruGlo Modern Dental practice in Beverly Hills, told Fox News Digital that vinegar contains acetic acid, which has an acidity PH level of about 2 to 3. 

"The reason why cavities develop on teeth is simply because the acidic environment created by the bacteria in the mouth breaks down carbohydrates and sugars," said Kalasho.

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"Carbonation or carbonated drinks actually are more acidic, so if you carbonate vinegar, you create even more of an acidic environment in the mouth when consuming it," she continued. "This acidity weakens enamel making it a lot more prone to staining, tooth decay and breakage."

Kalasho said she recommends carbonated water over "healthy Coke" because the latter "is not great for your teeth." 

She also advises people to drink alkaline water throughout the day after having a carbonated beverage because it balances PH levels in the mouth.

Excess vinegar might not be good for your stomach

Combining balsamic vinegar and soda water can upset a person's stomach. (iStock)

Patricia Kolesa, a freelance registered dietitian from New Jersey, told Fox News Digital that high vinegar consumption can be upsetting to a stomach.

"I believe people should be worried about the acidity of vinegar when consumed in excess, especially if they have specific conditions that require them to limit intake of acidic foods and drinks like IBS, IBD, gastritis, diverticulitis GERD, weight loss surgery, etc.," said Kolesa.

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Kolesa added that she finds the viral drink recipe "unnecessary" for anyone who already drinks other fluids like water, sparkling water, low sugar electrolyte beverages, flavored water and teas.

"They are just as helpful in staying hydrated," she said.

It can make digestive conditions or disorders worse 

Consuming too much vinegar can make digestive issues worse, including irritable bowel syndrome and stomach ulcers. (iStock )

Michelle Rauch, a registered dietitian at The Actors Fund Home – an assisted living facility in Englewood, New Jersey, told Fox News Digital that the safety of the viral drink depends on how diluted the vinegar is and how often the drink is being consumed.

Rauch said that even when balsamic vinegar is "diluted somewhat with the soda water," it’s still acidic enough to damage tooth enamel or aggravate acid reflux.

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"Ongoing consumption of acidic beverages can lead to damage to your esophagus and upper GI tract," Rauch warned. "I would also avoid [the viral drink] if you have a medical history of stomach ulcers as it can have the potential to worsen your current condition if consumed on a regular basis." 

"Just because someone says something is healthy does not mean it is," she continued. "Seek out a registered dietitian or another health professional to discuss before attempting posted 'health trends' from non-credentialed individuals on social media."

Practicing moderation could help

Soda water, also known as seltzer water and sparkling water, is a carbonated beverage that gives still water fizz. (iStock)

Shyamala Vishnumohan, a doctor of food and nutrition and practicing dietitian at One to One Thousand Nutrition Consulting in Perth, Australia, told Fox News Digital that she understands why people would want a healthier alternative to coke considering 12-ounce cans contain about 7.75 teaspoons of sugar.

In her own words, "Who wouldn’t want an alternative that can offset the sugars and the extra calories?"

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Vishnumohan said she loves balsamic vinegar and sparkling water, but she wasn’t impressed with the drink combo.

"Except for the brown fizzy appearance, it doesn’t taste anything like Coke," she said.

"First, we said, cauliflower is rice when it is not anything close to it," Vishnumohan continued. "Then we convinced ourselves that spaghetti squash tastes just like our good old pasta. We are seeing adverts everywhere that plant-based meats with 20 different ingredients taste exactly like the real meat from our favorite butcher. It’s time we stop lying to ourselves and call our food what it is."

Vishnumohan said that routine soda drinkers who want to make a health change should instead cut back their consumption to one a day for a couple of weeks, and then one every few days for a couple of weeks until they’re soda free.

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At the time of publication, the healthy Coke hashtag on TikTok has been viewed more than 40.8 million times. It’s not clear if some of these views can be credited to non-vinegar beverage trends.