Posted on Jul 17, 2020, 3 p.m.
Vinegar is available in a variety of types with uses ranging from health benefits to cooking and cleaning to jock itch, constipation, and weed killer. It appears as if vinegar may be having a moment in the sun as it is hard to find a magazine display without a headline speaking about the healing or cleaning powers of vinegar in general.
Fermented grapes and apples are a common source for vinegar but you can also find malt vinegar that has been made from oats or barley, white vinegar made from industrial grain alcohol, and vinegar can be found made from fruit, rice, or beer.
Hippocrates used to prescribe vinegar to treat wounds, coughs, colds and other ailments about 2,400 years ago; and Tommaso Del Garbo recommended that people use it to wash their hands, face, and mouths with during the 1348 plague outbreak to avoid infection. Traditional medicines have also used it to treat ailments ranging from croup, to poison ivy and upset stomach.
Vinegar contains from 2-15 calories per tablespoon depending on the variety, and certain kinds contain trace amounts of vitamins, minerals, amino acids and polyphenolic compounds. The acidic content is what gives vinegar the pungency and tartness as well as most of it uses in health, beauty, cleaning, and weed killing.
While vinegar has been used in a variety of ways to treat different conditions and symptoms throughout history there is little validation with scientific evidence to support it as being an effective treatment for most diseases. But some studies suggest that it does have promising health benefits that warrant further investigation, such as the following:
Animal studies suggest that it may help to lower high blood pressure. One study found that women who were followed for 10 years who ate vinegar salad dress 5-6 times per week had a lower risk for developing fatal heart disease.
It has been demonstrated to cause human leukemia cells to die and inhibit cancer cell growth, and animal studies show that vinegar added to drinking water had a protective effect stopping animals from developing azoxymethane induced colon cancer.
Vinegar may have an antihyperglycemic effect in some by helping to improve insulin response to sugar intake, and this effect may be even more significant among those with insulin resistance. Consuming a vinegar test drink before a carbohydrate rich meal was found to help reduce post meal blood sugar levels by 64% in one study compared to a placebo.
A study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that consuming vinegar before a meal helped to increase feeling of satiety which helped to prevent overeating that can lead to unwanted weight gain. A separate study in which participants consumed two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar per day for 3 months was reported to have helped overweight adults lose on average 2-4 pounds.
The antimicrobial activity of apple cider vinegar was examined in a study published in Scientific Reports which found that vinegar down regulated the inflammatory cytokine in a dose dependent fashion, with the researchers concluding that ACV could have potential applications for acute infections and for autoimmune induced immune dysregulation, but it was noted that further research is required.
A study involving women with polycystic ovary syndrome who drank one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar with seven ounces of water immediately after dinner for one month found that the women experienced more regular periods and improved hormone levels.
Vinegar has many other potential health benefits, although they may not necessarily be confirmed, which includes fighting colds and viruses, alleviating symptoms of acid reflux, supporting digestive health, having a natural detoxification effect on the liver, and helping with hormonal regulation.
In moderate amounts vinegar may offer a number of potential health benefits, but it also carries some potential risks that will vary and are largely dependent on individual factors as well as uses. Some potential risks of consuming vinegar can include but is not limited to: corrosive and inflammatory damage to the esophagus, damage to tooth enamel, reduced potassium levels, lowered blood sugar levels, stomach discomfort, digestive burning sensations, and histamine related reactions among those with intolerances or sensitivities. Typically as long as vinegar is diluted and used as part of a meal/recipe it is generally not harmful as part of a healthy diet.
Vinegar is available in a variety of forms that have their own taste and best uses such as distilled white vinegar, apple cider vinegar, red wine vinegar, white wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, malt vinegar, and rice vinegar. Given its long history of use and the benefits it may carry and the variety of choices there is a wide range of uses that may make vinegar an addition to your shopping list to keep in your pantry to experiment with.
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This article is not intended to provide medical diagnosis, advice, treatment, or endorsement.