Honey and Vinegar: Are There Health Benefits?

Drinks made of honey and vinegar have existed for thousands of years. Also known as “oxymel,” the combination of honey with some kind of vinegar creates a syrup that’s usually added to water or another liquid and then drunk. Since ancient times people have used the mixture to prevent or improve many conditions:

While some of these ideas have been disproven, today people all over the world continue to drink the mixture for the health benefits they hope to gain, such as weight loss or healing infections. You can find both ingredients at grocery stores around the globe.

Nutrition Information

One tablespoon of honey contains:

The nutritional content of vinegar will vary depending on the type of fruit used to make it and the brand. One tablespoon of cider vinegar contains:

  • Calories: 3
  • Protein: 0 grams
  • Fat: 0 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 0 grams

A honey and vinegar drink can also be an excellent source of:

Potential Health Benefits of Honey and Vinegar

Honey and vinegar are both rich sources of vitamins and minerals. For instance, vitamin C and vitamin E exist in honey, while vinegar contains vitamin B-12 and vitamin K.

Vitamins help the body function and stay healthy. The vitamins in honey and vinegar boost the immune system, aid in bone and heart health, assist in memory and cell production, and help blood clot.

Research has found a number of potential health benefits to eating or drinking honey and vinegar:

Disease Prevention

Honey and vinegar contain antioxidants, which play an important role in reducing harmful oxygen molecules (called free radicals) in the body. Antioxidants help lower your risk of developing certain diseases such as cancers, as well as reduce signs of aging and combat types of dementia.

Improved Heart Health

Some studies suggest that consuming vinegar may help prevent heart-related diseases. In particular, vinegar has been linked to lowering levels of  “bad” L DL cholesterol and increasing levels of  “good” HDL cholesterol, which the body uses to help protect against heart disease.

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Meanwhile, early studies suggest that taking in moderate amounts of honey may help lower blood pressure, which is another risk factor for heart disease.

Finally, a few early trials also suggest that vinegar generally lowers oxidative stress in the body, which is a predictive factor for atherosclerosis (the hardening of the heart’s arteries). More research exploring the effects on humans is needed.  

Weight Maintenance

Vinegar has also been connected to a reduction in appetite, although accuracy of this claim is debated. Many believe the acid in vinegar slows the absorption of food in your digestive system, leaving you feeling fuller longer. As a result, consuming honey and vinegar may allow you to more easily maintain your weight.

Potential Risks of Honey and Vinegar

Because honey and vinegar are so potent, you should talk to your doctor before significantly increasing your honey and vinegar intake. Consider the following before preparing or drinking honey and vinegar:

Insulin Resistance

Honey is rich in sugar, which is not ideal for some diets. Too much sugar can lead to health problems such as diabetes.

One study that investigated honey vinegar syrup found that consuming a moderate amount of it  for four weeks led to an increase in fasting insulin levels (the amount of insulin in the body after not eating any food for a period of time) in volunteers. As a result, people with diabetes may want to avoid drinking honey and vinegar to keep their blood glucose levels stable.

Cholesterol Concerns

The same study that found that honey vinegar syrup increased fasting insulin found that consumption of the syrup lowered levels of HDL cholesterol in the blood. HDL cholesterol helps protect against heart disease. Without much of it present in the body, your risk of heart disease or experiencing heart-related events increases.

Dental Damage

Acid, a main ingredient in vinegar, is known to be damaging to tooth enamel (the coating on your teeth). Similarly, bacteria in your mouth naturally changes sugary foods into acid when you eat. As a result, drinking honey and vinegar together negatively affects your teeth. Talk to your dentist  before adding honey and vinegar to your regular diet, particularly if you have a history of dental decay or erosion.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on October 22, 2020

Sources

SOURCES:

American Dental Association: “Erosive Tooth Wear.”

Asian Journal of Science and Technology: “STUDY ABOUT THE NUTRITIONAL AND MEDICINAL PROPERTIES OF APPLE CIDER VINEGAR.”

Bon Appetit: “Oxymel Is the Tart, Herbal Tonic You Can Make at Home.”

ESHA Research, Inc., Salem, Oregon: “Honey, strained/extracted.”

ESHA Research, Inc., Salem, Oregon: “Vinegar, cider.”

European Journal of Clinical Nutrition: “Delayed gastric emptying rate may explain improved glycaemia in healthy subjects to a starchy meal with added vinegar.”

FoodData Central: “Honey.”

FoodData Central: “Apple Cider Vinegar.”

International Journal of Molecular Science: “Differential responses to blood pressure and oxidative stress in streptozotocin-induced diabetic Wistar-Kyoto rats and spontaneously hypertensive rats: effects of antioxidant (honey) treatment.”

International Journal of Preventive Medicine: “Effect of Honey Vinegar Syrup on Blood Sugar and Lipid Profile in Healthy Subjects.”

Journal of Food Science: “Functional properties of vinegar.”

Journal of Medicinal Food: “Apple Cider Vinegar Attenuates Oxidative Stress and Reduces the Risk of Obesity in High-Fat-Fed Male Wistar Rats.”

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health: “Antioxidants: In Depth.”

National Institutes of Health: “Vitamin B-12.”

National Institutes of Health: “Vitamin C.”

National Institutes of Health: “Vitamin E.”

National Institutes of Health: “Vitamin K.”

Pharmaceutical Historian: “Oxymel in medieval Persia.”

© 2020 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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