By Gina Roberts-Grey, EatingWell.com
Vinegar’s not a magic elixir — but it may be able to help your waistline, cholesterol and more! Research suggests that a splash of vinegar may give your weight-loss efforts a small boost, as people who added raspberry vinegar or apple-cider vinegar to their diets daily for at least four weeks slimmed down more than those who didn’t get vinegar. Who knew? Here’s a little more information about some common vinegars, plus some ideas for how to work vinegar into your daily diet.
Apple-cider vinegar helped increase “good” HDL cholesterol in animal studies. Plus, it contains a polyphenol, chlorogenic acid, thought to reduce “bad” LDL cholesterol. Apple-cider vinegar has a pale- to medium-amber color and can be found filtered or unfiltered. Apple-cider vinegar can help draw out flavors in recipes, and is often used in salad dressings, apple-based desserts or to make a glaze for pork chops.
Acetic acid, which gives red-wine and other vinegars their sour taste, helps you stay satisfied after eating by minimizing blood sugar spikes. As you might expect from its name, red-wine vinegar is made from fermented red wine. It’s commonly used in vinaigrette salad dressings, or stirred into a bit of butter to dress wilted or sauteed greens.
The antioxidant quercetin, found in grape-based vinegars like balsamic and apple vinegars, may help tame high blood pressure, says research in the Journal of Nutrition. True balsamic is made from cooked and pressed Trebbiano or Lambrusco grapes, which are aged in barrels. Check your label to be sure sugar hasn’t been added to mimic the inherent sweetness of a high-quality aged balsamic. Balsamic vinegar is delicious in salad dressings, or can be reduced by boiling and drizzled over pork chops or even ice cream.
Vinegars contain phenols, naturally occurring plant compounds linked with reduced cancer risk. One type of rice vinegar, kurosu, boasts more than any other. Rice vinegar is typically a very pale yellow color, and is most commonly used in Asian cooking because of its mild acidity and slight sweetness. You’ll also find seasoned rice vinegar on grocery shelves, but regular rice vinegar is typically a more versatile choice to keep in your pantry, as you can choose what seasonings to add yourself.
Raspberry vinegar is made by filling a jar with whole, fresh raspberries, and adding enough good-quality red-wine vinegar to cover the berries. After sitting for about a week (covered), the raspberries are strained out, leaving behind a fruity-tasting vinegar that can be drizzled over ice cream or used in vinaigrettes. A bottle of raspberry vinegar should be used within six months.
(EatingWell is a magazine and website devoted to healthy eating as a way of life. Online at www.eatingwell.com.)