Red Wine Vinegar: Are There Health Benefits?

Medically Reviewed by Jabeen Begum, MD on November 22, 2022
3 min read

Red wine vinegar is a staple ingredient in Mediterranean cooking. It’s known for its delicious and distinctive tangy flavor. Red wine vinegar is a popular choice for vinaigrettes and is also frequently used in marinades and pickling solutions.

To make red wine vinegar, you need a “mother,” or a live starter substance. The mother is added to a mixture of red wine and water in a glass container, where it works with oxygen to transform the wine into vinegar by alcoholic fermentation.

In addition to being tasty, there’s growing evidence that many kinds of vinegar have distinct health benefits. Red wine vinegar is no exception, and researchers have been exploring its potential for lowering blood sugar and other potential health benefits with particular interest.

Most people find red wine vinegar to be too sour and/or acidic to consume on its own.  Red wine vinegar is more often combined with other ingredients, such as with olive oil in a salad dressing.

The nutrition information for 100 grams of red wine vinegar is:

  • Calories: 6
  • Protein: 0 grams
  • Fat: 0 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 0 grams
  • Fiber: 0 grams

While not an abundant source of protein, fat, carbohydrates, or fiber, red wine vinegar does contain small amounts of micronutrients, including:

Red wine vinegar and balsamic vinegar are featured prominently in the Mediterranean diet, a much-publicized way of eating with many health benefits. Red wine vinegar contributes to the healthful nature of the diet in a few important ways.

Managing Blood Sugar

One study of healthy adults found that daily consumption of red wine vinegar was linked to lower blood sugar (blood glucose) levels.

Other studies have shown that vinegar is effective at reducing blood sugar spikes and improving insulin sensitivity in people with type 2 diabetes.

Antitumor Effects

While the research remains limited, lab studies of vinegar on leukemia (blood cancer) cells and other cancer cells have indicated that vinegar may have antitumor properties for certain types of cancer. Vinegars contain polyphenols, plant antioxidants that have been proven to reduce cancer risk.

Heart Health

A 10-year study of 76,283 women found an association between a high intake of oil and vinegar salad dressing (five or more times per week) and reduced risk of coronary artery disease.

The study suggested the cause may be the alpha-linolenic acid (an essential fatty acid) present in the oil, but critics have called that conclusion into question. It’s presently unknown what about oil and vinegar is so beneficial, and it may in fact be the polyphenols present in vinegar.

When it comes to vinegar, there can be too much of a good thing. The following red wine vinegar health risks vary and can potentially be serious:

Bladder Cancer

A study in Serbia found that high levels of vinegar in the diet may be linked to a higher risk of bladder cancer. The study was based on a review of 130 patients who were newly diagnosed with this type of cancer.

Tooth Enamel Damage

The high level of acidity in vinegar can cause damage to tooth enamel if over consumed.

To avoid this risk, never use vinegar as a mouthwash and avoid drinking straight vinegar. If you're considering drinking vinegar, dilute it by approximately five parts water to one part vinegar.