Ever since I can remember I have craved the sharp tang of acid. I use vinegar to accompany nearly everything I eat. Balsamic vinegar for salads and pizza (yes, pizza), malt vinegar for chips and noodles (yes, noodles), white wine vinegar, and rice vinegar, I've never met a vinegar I didn't like.
I blame my father for this. As a child in a high chair, he presented me with a lemon slice, which I diligently sucked, and although through a grimace, finished the whole slice.
Once I was old enough to realise that my love for vinegar was 'unusual' I began to wonder; is this any good for me? Is vinegar my friend or foe?
Within the wellness community apple cider vinegar has been championed for its health benefits. The key ingredient is acetic acid, which is found in all vinegars, albeit in different strengths.
There has been some research to suggest that acetic acid can provide potential benefits including:
- Reducing blood sugar levels
- Making you feel sated
- Lowering cholesterol
- Reducing blood pressure
Reducing blood sugar levels
A study by the American Diabetes Association found that fluxes in insulin, post meal times, were significantly reduced by vinegar. Essentially, the acetic acid in vinegar, increases insulin sensitivity and significantly lowers blood sugar responses i.e. lowers the glycaemic index of food. This means blood sugar highs and lows were less pronounced, suggesting that vinegar can regulate the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and protein from the blood into fat, liver and skeletal muscle cells.
This demonstrates that therapeutic agents, such as vinegar, might delay or prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes and that further investigations to examine the efficacy of vinegar as an anti-diabetic therapy are warranted.1
Making you feel sated
Studies suggest that vinegar can increase feelings of fullness and help people eat fewer calories, which can lead to weight loss.
A study conducted by the National Center for Biotechnology Information investigating the potential of dietary vinegar supplementation, discovered a direct correlation between the ratings of satiety to the level of acetic acid in a subject’s supplement.
Subjects with a high acetic level felt fuller at 30, 90 and 120 minutes intervals after the meal than subjects who had eaten without the vinegar supplement.2
A study in rats has found that a high cholesterol diet, supplemented by acetic acid, reduced serum total cholesterol and triacylglycerol, often associated with cardiovascular diseases.3
It has also been suggested that vinegar can reduce blood pressure. Again, a study with rats saw the blood pressures of the rats reduce after being administered a red wine vinegar beverage. It was seen to inhibit the renin-angiotensin system: the system that involved in the regulation of the plasma sodium concentration and arterial blood pressure. In a similar way that red wine is suggested to reduce blood pressure in humans. 4
So far so good, but in the interest of balance I thought I should include some warnings. Although not tested in humans or rats, it has been suggested that vinegar can be damaging to tooth enamel, and might have an adverse impact upon potassium levels. In excess it has been suggested that the consumption of vinegar can led to minerals, such as potassium, being leached from bones to balance the acidity in the blood.
On the whole though, I think I am safe to continue to dowse my food in my favourite condiment, hopeful that I might actually be helping rather than harming myself.
As with everything – all in moderation, but perhaps you will be tempted to raise a shot of this potentially virtuous liquid every now and again.