It is common to think that the primary purpose of vinegar is to make your salad tastier. However, vinegar benefits you in more ways that you would have imagined. Read on to learn more about its benefits ranging from protecting your heart to unclogging your kitchen sink.
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What is vinegar?
The word ‘vinegar’ comes from the French vin aigre, meaning ‘sour wine’. It is produced by fermenting carbohydrates such as grapes and apples. First, the sugars are fermented to form alcohol. Then, bacteria known as Acetobacteria transform the alcohol into vinegar. Actually most of the vinegar on sale today do not include any bacteria at all because of the pasteurization process they have to go through before they are bottled. Some brands assure us that the vinegar they sell hasn’t been filtered or pasteurized. This is known as ‘mother vinegar’ and it’s thought to have therapeutic properties.
The largest component of vinegar is acetic acid (between 4 and 7% approximately), there are also other constituents like vitamins, mineral salts, polyphenols and organic acids such as malic acid, citric acid and lactic acid.
Legend has it that vinegar was discovered in ancient Babylon around 5000 BC after some cast-off grape juice was fermented. Famous people from history have used vinegar for different purposes. For instance, Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, used vinegar to dress wounds. Cleopatra dissolved precious stones in vinegar as a love potion to give to Mark Antony.
Today, it is mainly used as a condiment to add its characteristic flavor to salads and other dishes. However, studies attribute several health benefits to vinegar.
The 3 main benefits of vinegar in your diet
According to some studies, antibiotic properties have been found in vinegar, mostly in the context of food preparation and preservation. It’s also been shown to be effective for cleaning and protecting dentures and treating jellyfish stings. A 2% solution of acetic acid has been found to be effective in treating ear infections.
Studies carried out on rats showed that vinegar has a powerful anti-hypertensive effect, perhaps because it inhibits the renin-angiotensin system. Studies on people with moderately high blood pressure seem to confirm a slight anti-hypertensive effect2.
Controlling blood glucose levels
Different studies have found vinegar to have an anti-glycemic effect in humans, mostly in the reduction of glucose levels after meals. They have also shown that vinegar consumption increases our gratification levels after meals.
How should we consume our vinegar?
Vinegar has been used as a condiment for thousands of years, and regularly adding it to your diet shouldn’t have any side effects in principle. If you plan to use vinegar as a supplement you should exercise a little caution, as cases have been reported of irritation to the mucus lining of the oesophagus. It could also cause a reduction in blood potassium levels (hypokalemia). You could try taking two tablespoons of vinegar diluted in a little water before meals. But make sure that you accompany it with foods rich in potassium (such as banana, milk or avocados) to guard against hypokalemia.
Some therapists recommend taking a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar diluted in a glass of water on an empty stomach to treat indigestion. This is thought to have the effect of increasing stomach acidity and have an antibiotic effect on the large intestine.
Bonus Track: Even more benefits of vinegar
Want to know more benefits of vinegar? This post tells you how Apple cider vinegar can change your life.
And, checkout these life-hacks with vinegar that include unclogging your sink, removing wrinkles from your clothes and fixing smelly trash cans.
- Johnston, C. S., & Gaas, C. A. (2006). Vinegar: medicinal uses and antiglycemic effect. Medscape General Medicine, 8(2), 61.
- Tanaka, H., Watanabe, K., Ma, M., Hirayama, M., Kobayashi, T., Oyama, H., … & Aizawa, Y. (2009). The effects of γ-aminobutyric acid, vinegar, and dried bonito on blood pressure in normotensive and mildly or moderately hypertensive volunteers. Journal of clinical biochemistry and nutrition, 45(1), 93.