Vinegar: Is It Good for You?

You can find vinegar in the cuisines of a wide variety of cultures. Many groups around the world make some type of vinegar, either to use as a condiment or to help preserve other foods.

To make vinegar, a sugar source like apple or barley is fermented and turned into alcohol. The liquid is then fermented again, which converts the alcohol into acid. The result is a sour and sometimes sweet product that helps flavor food or preserve it from bacteria. 

It’s possible to make vinegar out of fruit, grain, or any other sugar-containing substance. No matter what the sugar source of the vinegar is, consuming it will have similar effects on your body.

Because of how ancient vinegar is, there are many health benefits connected to it. Science supports some of these claims, but further research still needs to be done.

Nutrition Information

A single tablespoon serving of vinegar contains:

Vinegar is an excellent source of:

Some kinds of vinegar can also be a good source of antioxidants. The darker the vinegar, the more antioxidants remain in the liquid.

A darker vinegar is generally less refined than lighter vinegar types, with healthy compounds in the liquid to affect taste and color. These antioxidants can reduce signs of aging, as well as your risk of developing certain types of cancer.

Potential Health Benefits of Vinegar

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

Below are some research-backed potential health benefits to drinking or using vinegar as a condiment:

Lower Cholesterol Levels

Early studies suggest that consuming a small amount of vinegar with your regular meals can significantly decrease “bad” cholesterol and triglyceride levels, even without further changes to your diet. Lower cholesterol levels can reduce your risk of atherosclerosis, which is the narrowing and hardening of arteries, and other forms of heart disease. More studies with human subjects need to be done on this subject, but preliminary results are promising. 

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Lower Blood Sugar  

Vinegar can affect your insulin levels, too. Regularly having a small amount of vinegar in your diet may help control your blood sugar more effectively. Studies have shown that vinegar controls blood sugar spikes after meals rich in carbohydrates. Vinegar may help prevent peaks and valleys that can cause health problems for people with diabetes.

Possible Appetite Suppressant

While further studies are necessary, preliminary trials suggest that having more vinegar in your diet may help reduce your appetite. Adding one to two tablespoons of vinegar to your eating routine may leave you feeling fuller for a much longer time. As a result, vinegar may help people lose weight by safely reducing their urge to eat.

Potential Risks of Vinegar

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

Dangerously Low Blood Sugar Levels

Some instances of vinegar intake can lead to hypoglycemia or too low blood sugar levels, which can cause symptoms like anxiety and dizziness. People with diabetes should consult with their physician before trying to use vinegar as a specific method of insulin control. 

Teeth Damage

The same acid content that can provide health benefits can also have damaging effects on your oral health. Vinegar can be as much as 7% acetic acid, which can cause serious dental damage. Acids carry away the minerals in your teeth, weakening enamel and potentially leading to cavities and other problems. Habitual drinking of straight vinegar may be problematic for this reason. 

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on October 08, 2020

Sources

SOURCES:

Antioxidants: “On the Characterization and Correlation of Compositional, Antioxidant and Colour Profile of Common and Balsamic Vinegars.”

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.”

Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety: “Vinegar Functions on Health: Constituents, Sources, and Formation Mechanisms.”

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: “Vinegar, white, distilled, S&W.”

FoodData Central: “Vinegar.”

National Capital Poison Center: “Vinegar: Not Just for Salad.”

New World Encyclopedia: “Vinegar.”

Obstetrics & Gynecology International Journal: “A Review of the Hypoglycemic Effects of Vinegar and its Potential Benefit in Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (GDM).”

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

© 2020 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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