A variety of natural vinegar products are found in civilizations around the world. A review of research on these fermented products indicates numerous reports of health benefits derived by consumption of vinegar components. Therapeutic effects of vinegar arising from consuming the inherent bioactive components including acetic acid, gallic acid, catechin, ephicatechin, chlorogenic acid, caffeic acid, p-coumaric acid, and ferulic acid cause antioxidative, antidiabetic, antimicrobial, antitumor, antiobesity, antihypertensive, and cholesterol-lowering responses. The aims of this article are to discuss vinegar history, production, varieties, acetic acid bacteria, and functional properties of vinegars.
Alex’s Notes: In case you missed it, now’s your chance to go back and look at Alisa’s Practical Uses for Vinegar: Part 1. It gives some great ideas for using vinegar around the house, but to be honest, after looking at vinegar’s functional health properties, you will probably want to save it all for your personal consumption. That’s what our ancestors did anyways. The earliest known uses of vinegar dates back more than 10,000 years (before agriculture!) and it started being produced and sold commercially across the known world 5,000 years ago. Currently, it is produced worldwide via a two-step fermentation process that turns sugars and starches into wine, and then into vinegar.
Dating back to the first uses of vinegar, it was used as an antimicrobial agent. The organic acids in vinegar and mainly acetic acid pass into cell membranes of microorganisms leading to bacterial cell death.Recent studies have also suggested that bioactive compounds such as polyphenols and vitamins in different types of vinegar defend against oxidative stress due to their significant antioxidant activity.
Then we get into actual protective effects against chronic disease. It has been shown to benefit those suffering from or at risk for type-2diabetes, as well as benefit healthy individuals. It is likely that the acetic acid in vinegar may prevent the complete digestion of complex carbohydrates by either delaying gastric emptying or by increasing the uptake of glucose by tissues resulting in reduced blood glucose levels. These effects also promote vinegar as an antiobesity agent, but studies have demonstrated a satiating effect outside of glycemic control. Vinegar is also a powerful cardiovascular protective compound though its effects on lipids, cholesterol, and blood pressure.
Finally, vinegar may reduce muscle damage from moderate intensity exercise, and may have a protective effect on the brain and cognition. So if you don’t use vinegar, you really are missing out. I personally consume some vinegar with each meal. Usually I mix a touch of apple cider vinegar with fizzy water and stevia to drink with a meal, but I also occasionally use it as a salad dressing. The real key is the stevia, which neutralizes the acidity and sour taste, turning the vinegar into a sweet treat.