If you’re a digital denizen, chances are that at some point in your internet exploration this week, you’ve come across the frozen honey trend. Borne (as so many trends these days are) from a TikTok video, the aptly-named fad of the moment involves squeezing the the sweet substance into an empty plastic water bottle and placing it in the freezer for anywhere from a couple hours to overnight. This results in a sticky, squeezable goo that offers a texture somewhere between gelatinous and solidly chunky. What happens next? We watch as TikTokers take giant bites of the solidified honey until (sometimes) the bottle is empty.
Despite its sugar content, many of the viral videos offer frozen honey up as a healthy-ish alternative to candy. According to health experts, however, the frozen honey trend is neither good for your gut, added sugar intake, nor your oral hygiene. It’s dessert–deliciously sweet and maybe worth tasting, but dentists and RDs alike agree this shouldn’t be considered a health food in any regard. Here’s why.
Given the ubiquity of the frozen honey movement sweeping the TikTok (and broader) nation ever since user Dave Ramirez shared a video of himself squeezing a bottle of frozen honey into his mouth on July 9, health professionals have come forward to express some misgivings about the social media craze.
“Honey has some beneficial properties, however, it is still considered an added sugar,” says nutrition expert Samantha Cassetty, MS, RD, author of Sugar Shock: The Hidden Sugar in Your Food and 100+ Smart Swaps to Cut Back. “Just like any form of added sugar, if you eat too much of it, there are downsides. Honey is high in fructose, which can trigger gastrointestinal disturbances, like bloating, gas, and diarrhea in some people.”
Moreover, consumption of any sugar (including honey) causes your body to produce insulin in order to convert the sugar from your bloodstream to your cells, where it can either be used for energy or stored as fat. But overconsumption could result in cells building up a resistance to insulin’s actions, causing sugar to build up in the bloodstream, which has the potential to lead to type 2 diabetes over time. Cassetty also explains that a diet that is consistently high in sugar could be linked to acne, heart disease, memory problems, and mood disorders.
“Truthfully, the majority of Americans already far exceed the recommended added sugar limits of 25 grams per day for women and 36 grams per day for men,” Cassetty points out. “For context, a tablespoon of honey has about 17 grams of sugar, so you can see how this habit would probably drive your sugar intake over the healthy limit.”
Other parts of your body could also be adversely affected by eating frozen honey, especially in large quantities. “Tooth decay is caused by enamel-destroying acid produced by the combination of bacteria and sugar,” says Shannon M. Nanne, RDH. Given that honey is mostly sugar (it’s made up of 40 percent fructose, 30 percent glucose, water, and minerals including iron, calcium, potassium, and magnesium), Nanne notes that honey can lead to cavities when not moderated.
“Although honey does take longer to be broken down than regular table sugar, it tends to linger on teeth longer than ordinary sugar due to its stickiness,” Nanne continues. And when honey is frozen, it stays on your teeth even longer, which can cause further problems because of the duration that it stays on your teeth.
If you are going to consume more than the recommended serving of honey, Nanne recommends toothpastes like Curaprox’s Black is White toothpaste ($25), which contains hydroxyapatite and sodium monofluorophosphate to help with cavity prevention, repair of micro-lesions, and even tooth sensitivity protection. Moreover, Nanne recommends looking for toothpastes that have an enzymatic system that supports saliva and its functions to help keep your mouth at a healthier pH, further preventing cavities.
The bottom line
Ultimately, experts say, the trick to honey (and most of life) is all about moderation. “There isn’t anything inherently harmful about freezing honey,” affirms nutritionist Krista Linares, RD. “However, the change in texture and the novelty could cause people to eat much larger quantities.”
Overall, finding ways to reduce your added sugar intake–be it frozen honey, soda, sweets, or whatever–can help improve your health. “Use honey sparingly to flavor other healthful foods, like tea, overnight oats, plain Greek yogurt, and roasted carrots,” Cassetty recommends. And if you simply must have your frozen honey fix, try to stick to a single tablespoon serving to avoid all those unpleasant effects on your gut–and your precious pearly whites.
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