Rice Vinegar: Is it Good for You?

Rice vinegar is a lightly sweet and sour vinegar that’s often used in Asian cooking. All it takes to make rice vinegar is to ferment the rice in water to produce alcohol. This rice alcohol is then fermented again into acetic acid. This results in a sour liquid that is commonly added to a number of dishes, including sushi.

Like most types of vinegar, rice vinegar is very acidic. This can benefit your health, but it can also cause problems. Most types of vinegar affect your health in similar ways because the fermentation process leads to the breakdown of different grains or fruits used to make the vinegar. So, while folk remedies that involve rice vinegar are common, further studies need to be done to investigate many of its purported health benefits. 

Nutrition Information

A one-tablespoon serving of rice vinegar contains:

  • Calories: 0
  • Protein: Less than 1 gram 
  • Fat: Less than 1 gram
  • Carbohydrates: Less than 1 gram
  • Fiber: Less than 1 gram
  • Sugar: Less than 1 gram

Rice vinegar also contains:

Vinegar is also a good source of antioxidants. Darker vinegars are generally richer in antioxidants than lighter vinegars because they are less refined. Black rice vinegar is particularly high in antioxidants that can help reduce damage to your cells.

Potential Health Benefits of Rice Vinegar

Rice vinegar is a rich source of vitamins and minerals. However, the same aspects that make vinegar so potent can also create health complications for people with certain medical conditions.

For the moment, research has found a number of potential health benefits to drinking or eating rice vinegar:

Control Blood Sugar  

All types of vinegar affect blood sugar levels. Many people with diabetes find that consuming a small amount of vinegar with, or just after, a carbohydrate-heavy meal can help reduce insulin spikes. As a result, consuming rice vinegar as a salad dressing or other condiment may help people with diabetes control their blood sugar more effectively.

Lower Cholesterol Levels

Regularly consuming acetic acid from vinegar as part of your diet may help reduce your cholesterol levels. While more studies need to be done, early trials suggest that consuming small amounts of vinegar on a regular basis can lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels. This can reduce your risk of heart disease, liver disease, and coronary events.

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Aid Weight Loss

Some studies suggest that adding a small amount of vinegar to your daily diet may also aid in weight loss efforts. In general, consuming one to two tablespoons of vinegar with a meal appears to help people lose weight over time. According to these studies, the weight loss occurs because the vinegar increases satiety and reduces appetite. This reduction in appetite leads to a lower caloric intake over the course of the day and results in gradual weight loss over time.

Potential Risks of Rice Vinegar

Because rice vinegar is so potent, you should consult with your physician before taking it as a supplement. Consider the following potential risks before adding significant amounts of rice vinegar to your diet:

Tooth Damage

The sharp, sour taste of rice vinegar comes from its acetic acid content. Many vinegars are composed of 4% to 5% acetic acid. This acid is known to damage your teeth. Acid dissolves substances by bonding to minerals and dissolving them. This effect can significantly weaken your teeth over time. Drinking straight rice vinegar, rather than eating it as a condiment or ingredient with other foods, can quickly cause significant dental damage.

Decrease Potassium Levels

Rice vinegar contains potassium, but this may not be potassium that your body can use. Early studies suggest that consuming large amounts of vinegar every day may actually reduce your body’s ability to use and absorb potassium. In one case study, consuming large amounts of vinegar appears to have led to lower potassium levels and even osteoporosis. While consuming amounts of vinegar normally found in food appears to be safe, people who may have low potassium levels, heart conditions, or osteoporosis should consult with their physician before adding large amounts of vinegar to their diet. 

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on September 29, 2020

Sources

SOURCES:

Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry: “Vinegar Intake Reduces Body Weight, Body Fat Mass, and Serum Triglyceride Levels in Obese Japanese Subjects.”

British Journal of Nutrition: “Dietary acetic acid reduces serum cholesterol and triacylglycerols in rats fed a cholesterol-rich diet.”

Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice: “Vinegar consumption can attenuate postprandial glucose and insulin responses; a systematic review and meta-analysis of clinical trials.”

ESHA Research, Inc., Salem, Oregon.

FoodData Central: “Vinegar.”

Journal of Nutrition, Health, and Aging: “Antioxidant activity of the new black vinegar "IZUMI".”

Kitchn: "White, Brown, Black, Red, and Seasoned: All About Rice Vinegar."

Nephron: “Hypokalemia, Hyperreninemia and Osteoporosis in a Patient Ingesting Large Amounts of Cider Vinegar.”

Penn State Behrend: “Analyzing the Acid in Vinegar.”

PLoS: “Influence of Various Acidic Beverages on Tooth Erosion. Evaluation by a New Method.”

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