Examining the health benefits of vinegar

August 22, 2017 09:12 PM

From magazines, to Facebook, to Twitter, the ads are plentiful touting the health benefits of vinegar. Is it truly a magic elixir?

“If you include it in a healthy meal pattern, it's great, but it's not a magic bullet,” said Eileen FitzPatrick, Nutrition Science chairperson at The Sage Colleges.

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First, consumers have to understand what the active ingredient in vinegar is.

“Basically all vinegars are made from wine or apple cider and fermented by bacteria,” FitzPatrick said. “There's not a whole lot of extra steps in there. The bacteria ferment the sugars and makes acidic acid.”

Vinegar has been touted as a health aid since the 1800's, says FitzPatrick. While apple cider vinegar is capturing most of the attention nowadays, FitzPatrick says select the vinegar you prefer.

The benefits are the same across the board. Among them: it's moderately effective in controlling blood sugar levels.

“There's some evidence that the acidic acid interferes with the enzyme that breaks down starch in the gut, which makes it a little more like fiber and that may be why you don't get that rise in blood sugar after a starchy meal,” she said.

A salad dressed with oil and vinegar eaten with that starchy meal is what FitzPatrick recommends. That way, you're also adding more vegetables to your diet.

Vinegar consumption may also help, although minimally, with weight loss.

“It was a Japanese study and it did show 2-to-4 pounds of weight loss over 12 weeks,” FizPatrick said.

Because vinegar is an acid, don't take it straight. One-to-two tablespoons in eight ounces of water once a day is sufficient, according to FitzPatrick.

People need to drink it alone with a starchy meal for blood sugar control. That brings us back to her recommendation - use vinegar on salad and choose the type you prefer.

“I think there's no point in doing it unless it tastes good,” FitzPatrick said.

Not everyone can stomach vinegar. Some may become nauseous or have other stomach distress, and because it's an acid, it can damage tooth enamel.


WNYT Staff

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