There are as many kinds of fruit vinegar as there are types of fruit. These vinegars have found important roles in recipes around the world. Fruit vinegar is tart, a little sweet, and reminiscent of the fruit that was used to make it. It also has many health benefits on top of its potent flavor.
To make it you simply let some vinegar ferment into alcohol, and then ferment again into acetic acid. This results in a sour liquid that can be used to pickle foods or add a unique flavor to recipes. Fruit vinegar is made the same way, but pieces of fruit are added at the beginning of the fermenting process. Many have declared it a cure-all in recent years, saying it can help with issues such as:
- High blood sugar
- Weight loss
While many studies are still being done, here’s what’s currently known about how consuming fruit vinegar affects health.
A one-tablespoon serving of apple cider vinegar contains:
- Calories: 7
- Protein: Less than 1 gram
- Fat: Less than 1 gram
- Carbohydrates: 2 grams
- Fiber: Less than 1 gram
- Sugar: Less than 1 gram
Fruit vinegar is a good source of:
Fruit vinegar is also a great source of magnesium, which is an important part of your body's signaling system. Studies have shown that consuming enough magnesium may help lower the risk of cataracts, metabolic syndrome, migraines, and diabetes.
Potential Health Benefits of Fruit Vinegar
Fruit vinegar, like most forms of vinegar, is highly acidic. Most types of fruit vinegars provide similar health benefits because the fermentation process breaks down many of the unique qualities of individual fruits. While it’s uncertain whether fruit vinegar has added health benefits, vinegar itself can help with:
One well-documented effect of vinegar consumption is its effect on blood sugar. For people with consistently high levels of blood glucose, this can be a benefit. However, for people who have well-controlled diabetes, adding significant amounts of vinegar to their diet can actually send their blood sugar too low. People with diabetes should consult with their physician before adopting a high-vinegar diet.
Consuming a small amount of vinegar may also help people lose weight. According to several recent studies, consuming a small amount of vinegar with a meal—one to two tablespoons on average—can help people lose weight over the course of time. These studies hypothesize that this is because the vinegar increases satiety, helping to reduce appetite.
Potential Risks of Fruit Vinegar
Most vinegars are between 4% and 5% acetic acid, which is the reason behind the pungent taste and smell. Acid is bad for your teeth. It draws out the minerals from tooth enamel, weakening your teeth over time. Consuming too much fruit vinegar, especially drinking it straight, can damage your teeth permanently.
While vinegar contains potassium, it may not offer benefits from potassium in the long run. In one patient, the acid from consuming significant amounts of apple cider vinegar appears to have led to lower potassium levels and even osteoporosis. As a precaution, people who may have low potassium levels or osteoporosis should avoid consuming large amounts of vinegar without consulting their physician.
In general, there aren’t many studies available about the long term health effects of consuming significant amounts of vinegar. The studies that are being done have small sample sizes and only last short periods of time. Essentially, there isn’t much evidence one way or another. While studies do not yet significantly support the purported benefits of consuming straight fruit vinegar, consuming it as a part of a normal diet is unlikely to be harmful. As with many foods, moderation is key.
Instead of consuming straight fruit vinegar, you can add it to recipes for a burst of flavor and potential benefits without many of the drawbacks. Pickles, marinades, salad dressings, and even some cocktails all include a splash of vinegar.