Besides working wonders on glass surfaces and being the reminiscent odor of Easter egg coloring, vinegar has surprising uses that you may not even realize. In fact, it is considered one of the healthiest tonics available today!  Though its acidity and aroma can make you think twice about consuming or smelling it, vinegar is as vital to daily living as water.  Yes, it’s not just for pickles or sauerkraut!  

Medicinally, it’s been used for centuries as a solution for everything from aches and digestive ailments to making hair silky smooth. Sure it might set your teeth on edge, or cause your mouth to pucker (thanks to the acetic acid vinegar contains once fermented), but that very property is why it also makes an effective all-purpose household cleaner and laundry softener, too.  We recommend, however, if you are going to be so brave as to drink it, first make sure to dilute it in water or juice to break down its acidity – otherwise the acid can very easily cause a sore throat, or eat away at the enamel on your teeth.

But when it comes to consuming it, vinegar is hands down a great way to help you maintain a low-fat diet. It’s delicious when mixed with olive oil and can provide an extra boost to water soluble vegetables on your salad.  Although with oils — especially those mixed with vinegars to use in salads or sauces contain on average 100 or more calories and range from 11-14 grams of fat depending on the oil — a little goes a long way to enhance a dish’s flavor without the need for other ingredients or seasonings.  Vinegar also makes a great meat tenderizer, and is frequently used in many Asian cuisines.

Why Vinegar Is Good for Your Health

Vinegar is healing for the whole body in a multitude of ways:

  • Regulates blood sugar
  • Lowers cholesterol
  • Helps promote feelings of satiety after eating so you can balance a more moderate weight
  • Aids with digestion, relieves nausea, reduces intestinal inflammation, and helps prevent ulcers
  • Encourages the gut to produce “good bacteria” responsible for probiotic health
  • Soothes a cough or sore throat by combining with honey or water to drink or gargle
  • Controls foot odor
  • Heals toenail fungus and athlete’s foot
  • Eases muscle cramps
  • Relieves headaches

Varieties of Vinegar

The most commonly used vinegar as a health tonic to drink is apple cider vinegar.  As its name suggests, ACV is derived from the fermentation of apple cider, starting from the same process for winemaking.  But if the taste or smell of sour apples isn’t to your liking, you’ll be happy to know that any variety of vinegar has acetic acid in it, which means you can take your pick of which one to use to obtain the same effects (with the exception that unfiltered ACV has the unique benefit of containing prebiotics, which feeds the probiotics present in the gut).  All you need is 1-2 tablespoons of any vinegar variety added to a glass of warm or cold water as a daily tonic.

Other versions of vinegar you will typically see in stores are white distilled (which is also what is used for cleaning or laundering purposes), balsamic, kombucha, malt, rice, red or white wine, and sherry.  There are also lesser known variations according to the different regions of the world where they are indigenous, such as with cane, coconut, date, black, fruit, honey, Job’s tears, kiwifruit, palm, pomegranate, raisin, and spirit vinegar.

Is Vinegar Right For You?

With as many great things as there are to say about vinegar, its healing benefits will vary by person, so it’s best to consult with your doctor before starting a vinegar regimen.  But if you have no dietary restrictions, or can tolerate vinegar, and are looking for more ways to incorporate vinegar into your daily habits, you can also try these food and beverage ideas:

  • Add a splash of vinegar to deviled eggs for more yellow egg yolks and to complement the flavor.
  • Combine chopped onions, cucumbers, green chilies, and beets with a sprig of parsley or cilantro and 1-3 tablespoons of vinegar (more or less according to your preference) to eat as an accompaniment to a spicy South Asian dish.  If you prefer, you can also omit the beets or chilies, or even add jalapenos and yogurt.
  • Use apple cider or balsamic vinegar as a dipping sauce for breads.
  • Add 2 tablespoons of vinegar and 1 tablespoon of honey to a cup of fruit juice, such as apricot, pineapple, grape fruit, apple, or cranberry juice.
  • Add 2 tablespoons of vinegar to ginger and/or garlic tea.
  • Make kale chips with a twist by tossing kale with vinegar, oil, and sea salt before baking.
  • Add a splash of vinegar when boiling potatoes (to make mashed potatoes) to improve their flavor, or in simmering dishes with sauces to help the potatoes from turning into mush.

So there you have it! Who knew vinegar was such a wonder tonic? Best of all, it’s probably in your kitchen cabinet right now.