Vinegar, the tangy/sour stuff we usually associate with salad dressing, can be made from any liquid that contains sugar; everything from fruit juice to sugar water. After being exposed to air for a few days, naturally occurring or added yeasts cause the sugar to ferment, turning the liquid into alcohol. Left undisturbed, the fermentation continues until all of the alcohol becomes acetic acid. Usually though, vinegar factories speed up the process to just 2 or 3 days by using specialized bacterial cultures. However it’s made, vinegar has a distinct fragrance and a low pH. For comparison; water is neutral at a pH of 7.0, tomato juice is acidic at 4.1, distilled white vinegar is more acidic at 2.4, while lemon juice is 2.2 1. Apple cider vinegar however, stands out in that it a) tends to be less acidic, with a pH between 4.25 and 5, and b) has a bunch of good stuff associated withVinegar has been used for thousands of years (at least 5,000); in Babylon they fermented dates, and in ancient Rome, it was rye, grapes and figs too. Vinegar has been used medicinally, as a health tonic, a natural preservative, a cosmetic aid, as well as a household cleaner and disinfecting agent. Advocates have called vinegar everything from a wonder food to a miracle of God. The most boisterous claims out there are usually linked to unpasteurized organic apple cider vinegar (for the purposes of this article this particular type of vinegar will be denoted as “ACV”, but it should be noted that not all apple cider vinegars are unpasteurized and organic).
Most of the vinegars in supermarkets are inexpensive, filtered, pasteurized, and often made from corn, barley or other grains/fruit. These are the sparklingly clear ones. In contrast, ACV is the raw stuff with a cloudy appearance. ACV always has an orange/golden brown hue to it. Some popular brands include Bragg, Eden Organics, Spectrum, Solana Gold Organics, and Dynamic Health. They get organic apples, crush them to make cider, and then age them in wooden barrels.
Many people swear by it for the wrong reasons, while others scoff at for the wrong reasons. To be clear though, it is with confidence that I say that, if used intelligently, no outright harm can be had from vinegar use, especially ACV.
OUR RECOMMENDATION: Bragg Organic Raw Apple Cider Vinegar
Anyway, here are some facts.
- Some people refer to the cloudy substance in ACV, which sort of looks like floating cobwebs, as the “mother” or “mother veil”. This is actually just naturally occurring pectin and apple residues whose protein molecules connect in strand-like chains.
- ACV is often claimed as a nutritional powerhouse of sorts, containing a whole bunch of vitamins, minerals, and bioflavonoids. This is actually very inaccurate. The USDA considers all of these nutrients as absent from ACV, with one exception; potassium. ACV contains about 11 mg of potassium per tbsp. (the Daily Reference Value for potassium is 4,600 mg).
- By itself, vinegar doesn’t contain any significant amounts of vitamins or minerals, but when combined with foods that do, it helps the body assimilate those nutrients. The acetic acid increases the body’s absorption of calcium and other minerals. It’s recommend widely that sipping 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar in a glass of warm water while eating protein stimulates the body’s production of hydrochloric acid, which enhances digestion.
- By itself, vinegar does contain a fair amount of phenolic compounds, which are the things providing antioxidant protection, in this case it’s mainly chlorogenic acid. However, detectable amounts of gallic acid, catechin, epicatechin, caffeic acid and p-comaric acid have been found in ACV too.
- The Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism published a study in 2010 showing that vinegar’s anti-glycemic properties reduce blood sugar levels after meals in healthy adults, with the effects being most pronounced when ingestion occurred during mealtime, compared to 5 hours before 2.
- A 2009 study found that vinegar (not specified as ACV) intake reduced body weight, body fat mass, and serum triglyceride levels in obese subjects 3.
- A 2012 Dutch article reported that, after looking at one 15 yr old girl’s daily habit of consuming 1 glass of ACV, extensive erosion of tooth enamel does, indeed occur 5. (Please use common sense people; it’s still vinegar!!)
- A 2011 study on hypercholesterolemic rats 6, published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, found that, regardless of the preparation method (there were 4), ACV:
- Decreased blood triglyceride and VLDL levels, when compared to animals on a high-cholesterol diet without ACV supplementation.
- HDL, LDL and total cholesterol levels however, all increased with ACV.
- Serum levels of AST (aspartate aminotransferase), ALT (alanine transaminase), and ALP (alkaline phosphatase) all decreased significantly, which is good; elevated levels are usually an indication of liver disease.
The last-mentioned study on rats, as well as the first source used in this article, should be noted by the animal lovers out there. A lot of non-toxic good can be had from using this stuff on your pets. And from personal experience, I do have to say that ACV helped a lot during my weight loss journey, and I believe it continues to help with maintenance goals.
- Nagy, Stephen. “Sour greats: apple cider vinegar and other vinegars have many uses for healthy dogs.” Whole Dog Journal 15.1 2012
- Johnston CS, et al. Examination of the antiglycemic properties of vinegar in healthy adults. Ann Nutr Metab. 2010;56(1):74-9
- Kondo T, et al. Vinegar intake reduces body weight, body fat mass, and serum triglyceride levels in obese Japanese subjects. Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2009;73(8): 1837-43
- Gambon DL, et al. Unhealthy weight loss. Erosion by apple cider vinegar. Ned Tijdschr Tandheelkd. 2012;119(12): 589-91.
- Budak NH, et al. Effects of apple cider vinegars produced with different techniques on blood lipids in high-cholesterol-fed rats. J Agric Food Chem. 2011;59(12):6638-44