It was around 5000 BC. when a courtier of Babylon, the ancient city of Mesopotamia located on the banks of the Euphrates River, forgot a jar of wine, leaving the precious drink unattended. When he remembered it, the wine had turned into a very sour liquid, the vinegar was just born. Soon the Babylonians discovered that vinegar was not to be thrown away but, on the contrary, it could prove to be a precious ally for disinfecting drinking water, preserving food and seasoning, so much so that they began to produce vinegar starting not only from grapes but also from dates or from beer. Today there is no table on which a bottle of vinegar does not appear, essential for dressing salads but also for making sauces, gravies and making delicious side dishes. Vinegar, however, is not just a condiment, an addition to preparations to give flavor and a sour note, vinegar can also become beneficial for health. This is demonstrated by numerous scientific researches that have brought out the properties of vinegar for health. But let's try to understand better, focusing, in this article today, on the effects generated by an oral intake of vinegar.
Vinegar is produced by fermentation from a source of carbohydrates, such as wine, dates, apples, pears, berries, honey, beer, coconut, potatoes, cereals and even maple syrup. The result is a liquid, vinegar, containing acetic acid, but also vitamins, such as C, minerals, such as iron, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, calcium, zinc and manganese, and phenolic compounds, which are antioxidants, such as catechins, caffeic and ferulic acid (Johnston et al, MedGenMed, 2006).
Vinegar and heart health
Studies have shown that vinegar helps reduce systolic blood pressure in case of hypertension. At present, research has not yet been performed on humans but it appears that vinegar can promote calcium absorption, which in turn downregulates the renin-angiotensin system responsible for regulating blood pressure (Johnston et al, MedGenMed, 2006).
Vinegar and cellular degeneration
Some types of vinegar have shown anticancer properties. For example, rice vinegar helps inhibit the proliferation of human cancer cells. In vitro studies have shown that vinegar obtained from cane sugar induces apoptosis, that is, the programmed death, of leukemia cells (Johnston et al, MedGenMed, 2006).
Vinegar and blood sugar
Vinegar has a hypoglycemic action. For example, it was observed that 20 ml of white vinegar used to season the salad allowed to reduce the glycemic peak following a meal consisting of salad and white bread (Johnston et al, MedGenMed, 2006). Another research tested the effects of vinegar in type 2 diabetes. In this case, drinking a solution consisting of 20 grams of vinegar, 40 grams of water and 1 teaspoon of a sweetener immediately before a meal containing carbohydrates reduced postprandial blood glucose by 64% and improved insulin sensitivity by 34% (Johnston et al, MedGenMed, 2006). Apple cider vinegar has also been shown to counteract the effects of a diet high in sugar and fat, reducing blood sugar and circulating fats, as well as protecting the liver (Ousaaid et al, J Diabetes Res, 2020).
Vinegar against overweight
Vinegar, especially if obtained from fruit such as apple, pomegranate or prickly pear, can help prevent obesity, thanks to its anti-inflammatory action, also useful in counteracting the accumulation of fat, especially at visceral level (Bounihi et al, Pharm Biol, 2017). Studies have shown that one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar is able to reduce waist circumference and abdominal fat in a month and a half (Kondo et al, Biosci Biotechnol Biochem, 2009).
We have therefore seen that vinegar is not only a tasty condiment, but can also be particularly beneficial for protecting the heart and in the fight against cancer and obesity. It is also possible to often change the type of vinegar, alternating between white vinegar, or vinegar from red wine, apples, rice or even, why not, berries, in order to take advantage of its different properties. However, like everything, even with regard to vinegar you must never exceed the quantity taken. In fact, excessive quantities can cause gastrointestinal disturbances, such as nausea (Darzi et al, Int J Obes, 2014). Instead, a good idea is to use vinegar as part of a healthy and balanced diet, for example to season foods.