Superfoods That Begin with “V” – Vinegar
Vinegar, which is traditionally made through a long fermentation process, is rich in bioactive components like acetic acid, gallic acid, catechin, epicatechin, caffeic acid, and more, giving it potent antioxidant, antimicrobial, and many other beneficial properties.
Vinegar is popular for pickling fruits and vegetables, and it’s also commonly added to condiments and other food dishes for flavor. Vinegar is a functional food that not only adds interest to your meals, it may also significantly benefit your health.
Top 10 Therapeutic Effects of Vinegar
1. Antimicrobial Properties
Vinegar is one of the best natural cleaning agents due to its antimicrobial properties. When added to food, the organic acids in vinegar (especially the acetic acid) pass into cell membranes to kill bacteria.
One study found acetic acid to be lethal to even E. coli, while other research has shown substances such as acetic acid, lemon juice, or a combination of lemon juice and vinegar to be effective against salmonella.
2. Antioxidant Effects
Antioxidants are a class of molecules that are capable of inhibiting the oxidation of another molecule. Antioxidants play a significant role in your health, as they can control how fast you age by fighting free radicals that result in oxidative stress.
Antioxidants in apple cider vinegar include catechin, epicatechin, and gallic, caffeic, and chlorogenic acids.
3. Anti-Diabetic Effects
Vinegar is said to be anti-glycemic and has a beneficial effect on blood sugar levels. It’s thought that the acetic acid in vinegar may lower blood sugar by preventing the complete digestion of complex carbohydrates.
One theory is that vinegar might inactivate some of the digestive enzymes that break down carbohydrates into sugar, slowing the conversion of complex carbohydrate into sugar from a meal into your bloodstream. This gives your body more time to pull sugar out of your blood, preventing your sugar levels from spiking.
Research supports the use of vinegar as a diabetic treatment as well. One study found that vinegar treatment improved insulin sensitivity in 19% of individuals with type 2 diabetes and 34% of those with pre-diabetes.
The antioxidant content of vinegar may make it useful against cancer, and a traditional Japanese rice vinegar called Kurosu has shown particular promise for reducing cancer risk. Kurosu vinegar has been found to inhibit the growth of a variety of cancer cells, including colon, lung, breast, bladder, and prostate.
5. Weight Loss
Vinegar may help you lose weight, as it appears to have an anti-obesity effect by increasing satiety and reducing the total amount of food consumed. For instance, when volunteers consumed two tablespoons of red raspberry vinegar daily for four weeks they lost weight, while those who consumed the same amount of cranberry juice gained it.
Further, in separate research, people who consumed a small amount of vinegar along with a high-carb meal (a bagel and juice) consumed less food for the remainder of the day. The reduction equated to about 200 to 275 calories a day – an amount that would result in a monthly weight loss of up to 1.5 pounds.
Vinegar is low-calorie and when combined with heart-healthy oils (like olive oil) to create a vinaigrette, it makes a good substitute for creamy, calorie-laden salad dressings.
6. Heart Health
Vinegar supports heart health in multiple ways. It may lower cholesterol and blood pressure.
7. Heartburn and Acid Reflux
Acid reflux typically results from having too little acid in your stomach. You can easily improve the acid content of your stomach by taking one tablespoon of raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar in a large glass of water daily.
“Mother” of vinegar, a cobweb-like amino acid-based substance found in unprocessed, unfiltered vinegar, has antibacterial properties that may help to heal burn injuries. The intake of acetic acid bacteria may also help to reduce muscle damage caused by inflammation after exercise.
9. Brain Health
It’s been suggested that vinegar consumption might improve cognitive function in humans, and research shows that acetic acid bacteria do, in fact, produce precursors of important building blocks of brain tissues called sphingolipids.
10. Increased Nutrient Absorption
Vinegar is high in acetic acid. Like other acids, acetic acid can increase your body’s absorption of important minerals from the foods you eat. Therefore, it is possible that drinking a mild tonic of vinegar and water just before meals might improve your body’s ability to absorb the essential minerals locked in foods. Or, adding vinegar to your salad dressing might help you absorb more nutrients from your leafy greens.
Look for Murky Vinegar, Not Distilled Vinegar
Distilled white vinegar is excellent for cleaning and laundry, but for health purposes, you’ll want to avoid the perfectly clear, “sparkling clean” varieties you commonly see on grocery store shelves. Instead, you want organic, unfiltered, unprocessed vinegar, which is murky. When you try to look through it, you will notice a cobweb-like substance floating in it. This is known as “mother,” and it indicates your vinegar is of the best quality.
What Else Is Vinegar Good For?
Generally, you can use distilled white vinegar for household use and the cider vinegars, made from fermenting fruits such as apples, for consumption.
- Vinegar is one of the best natural agents for removing certain pesticides and bacteria from fresh produce. Try a solution of 10 percent vinegar to 90 percent water as a bath to briefly soak produce. Just place your veggies or fruit in the solution, swish it around, and rinse thoroughly (don’t use this process on fragile fruits like berries since they could be damaged in the process or soak up too much vinegar through their porous skins). Additionally:
- Apple cider vinegar has long been used as a natural hair care product. Its acidity is close to that of human hair. It’s a good conditioner and cleaning agent, as well as an effective germ killer.
- Vinegar is also has some applications for pets, including cleaning ears, relief of certain skin problems, and curbing fleas and ticks.
- Horse owners claim apple cider vinegar is an excellent natural horse fly spray and horse hoof care product.
- Vinegar is a great, all-around cleaning agent for everything from countertops to windows. Vinegar and water makes an excellent window cleaner, and vinegar combined with hydrogen peroxide works exceptionally well as both a disinfectant and sanitizer.
- Vinegar can also be used to control weeds. Howard Garrett, also known as The Dirt Doctor, shared his recipe for vinegar-based herbicide (this spray will injure any plant it touches, so use it only on those you want to remove):
- 1 gallon of 10 percent vinegar
- Add 1 ounce orange oil
- 1 teaspoon liquid soap or other surfactant (such as Bio Wash)
- Do not add water
If you suffer from migraines you may need to avoid or limit vinegars (and condiments made with them) since they contain tyramine and phenylethylamine, which are common migraine triggers.
Apple cider vinegar could theoretically interact with diuretics, laxatives, and medicines for diabetes and heart disease. If you are under the care of a physician and you want to use apple cider vinegar, talk to your doctor first to be sure it won’t interfere with any medications you are presently on.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is a type of vinegar made by the fermentation of apple cider. During the fermentation process, sugar in the apple cider is broken down by bacteria and yeast into alcohol and then into vinegar. Like other types of vinegar, apple cider vinegar contains acetic acid and it also contains some lactic, citric and malic acids.
Not simply a condiment anymore, apple cider vinegar has been lauded as one of the most beneficial health tonics available. Medical research backs many of the healing claims attributed to apple cider vinegar while research even suggests that apple cider vinegar is effective for treating such widespread conditions as diabetes and obesity.
This is from one of my favorite blogs – 26 Genius Ways to Use Apple Cider Vinegar
Balsamic vinegar isn’t like other vinegars. Balsamic is made from aged pressed grapes, rather than from wine, beer, or cider like other vinegars.
Distilled White Vinegar
Distilled white vinegar is very acidic and is used for medicinal purposes, cleaning, and sometimes cooking. The most common use in cooking is pickling, which is a way to flavor and preserve food.
Red Wine Vinegar
Red Wine Vinegar is made from red wine. Producers allow the red wine to ferment until it turns sour. Once fermentation is complete, the vinegar can be strained or bottled, or is aged. The longer the vinegar ages, the more muted the flavor becomes. Red wine vinegar can be aged up to two years before bottling. Even after purification and straining, a miniscule amount of sediment will remain at the bottom of the bottle. Red wine vinegar can be used in salad dressings and sauces, pickling, slow food and cooked in reductions to make sauces.
Rice or Rice Wine Vinegar is the aged and filtered product obtained from the acetous fermentation of sugars derived from rice. Rice vinegar is excellent for flavoring with herbs, spices and fruits due to its mild flavor. It is light in color and has a clean, delicate flavor. Widely used in Asian dishes, rice vinegar is popular because it does not significantly alter the appearance of the food.
White Wine Vinegar
White Wine Vinegar is the aged and filtered product obtained through the acetous fermentation of a selected blend of white wines. It is clear and pale gold, almost colorless. The taste is distinctly acidic, and the aroma reminiscent of the wine from which it comes.
White Wine Vinegar can be used to bring out the sweetness in strawberries and melons, add a twist to spicy salsas and marinades and wake up the flavor of sauces and glazes. This product is perfect for today’s lighter cooking style — replace heavy cream or butter with a splash of white wine vinegar to balance flavors without adding fat. The tart, tangy taste also reduces the need for salt. See our Recipes page for ideas on how to use white wine vinegar.
Other “V” Superfoods
By Kathy Casey