Vinegar is made up of ascetic acid, water, and very small amounts of other substances, depending on how the vinegar was made. The sour liquid is what wine turns into after it is exposed to air and fermentation ensues. Actually it doesn’t have to come from wine; vinegar can be made from anything with sugar or starch: apples, grapes, coconuts, potatoes, rice, corn, honey… the list goes on. The sugar or starch ferments into alcohol, which in turn ferments into vinegar with the help of airborne bacteria or a “mother,” something like a bacteria culture or starter.
While there are fantastic claims that seem to exaggerate the power of this widely-used sour condiment, it pays to scrutinize the facts to understand how vinegar can really be beneficial.
1. Diabetes. A study by Carol S. Johnston, Ph.D., Cindy M. Kim, MS, and Amanda J. Buller, MS, which was published in DiabetesCare, a journal of the American Diabetes Association, found that vinegar can help people with type-2 diabetes by improving their insulin sensitivity after they have had their meals—that means vinegar can bring about the same physiological effects as traditional diabetes medications like acarbose and metformin.
2. Weight loss. Researchers at the Lund University in Sweden found that the meals with higher amounts of vinegar influenced a lower metabolic response (in that there is less blood glucose and insulin activity 30 minutes after the meal), and that the subjective rating of satiety was directly proportional to the amount of vinegar served in the meal.
3. Nutrition (calcium). From a culinary perspective, a study showed that adding vinegar to soup stock increases the soup’s calcium content. The study, published in Calcified Tissue International, revealed that soup cooked with an acidic pH tends to contain more calcium than regular soups. This particular study was initiated in an effort to find other sources of calcium besides dairy.