White vinegar is a common household staple that many have sitting in their kitchen cabinets. Not only is it widely available and budget-friendly, but white vinegar is also incredibly versatile and can be used to kill weeds, tenderize meat, disinfect surfaces, pickle foods and more.
What’s more, studies show that vinegar may offer some serious health benefits as well. In fact, research suggests that it could help stabilize blood sugar levels, lower cholesterol, promote proper pH balance and even boost weight loss.
What Is White Vinegar?
White vinegar is comprised mostly of water, with between 5–10 percent acetic acid. Not only is it widely used in cooking, but it’s also used as a natural cleaning product, skin toner and weed remover.
So what is white vinegar made from? Historically, distilled white vinegar was made by fermenting foods like sugar beets, potatoes or molasses. However, there are many other methods for how to make white vinegar as well. Today, most types are made by fermenting grain alcohol. Other ingredients may also be added during production, including phosphates and yeast extract.
There are several other types of white vinegar as well, each of which differs in the way that they are produced, along with their flavor and potential uses. White balsamic vinegar, for example, is made by cooking white grapes at a low temperature, which helps retain its mild flavor and light color.
Meanwhile, white wine vinegar is produced from white wine that has undergone fermentation. Finally, rice vinegar is a type of vinegar made from fermented rice that has a mild, slightly sweet flavor and is a common substitute for white wine vinegar.
White vinegar is very low in calories and contains a small amount of a few select micronutrients. In particular, each serving of white vinegar contains a bit of manganese, selenium, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus.
One cup of white distilled vinegar provides the following nutrients:
- 43 calories
- 0.1 grams carbohydrate
- 0 grams protein
- 0 grams fat
- 0.1 milligrams manganese (7 percent DV)
- 1.2 micrograms selenium (2 percent DV)
- 14.3 milligrams calcium (1 percent DV)
- 2.4 milligrams magnesium (1 percent DV)
- 9.5 milligrams phosphorus (1 percent DV)
In addition to the nutrients above, vinegar also contains some copper, potassium and sodium.
White vinegar contains several health-promoting compounds and has been associated with numerous health benefits. Here are a few of the top reasons to consider adding this ingredient to your diet.
1. Lowers Blood Sugar
One of the most impressive white vinegar health benefits is its powerful ability to regulate blood sugar levels. In fact, one review conducted by the Ahvaz Jundishapur University of Medical Sciences reported that vinegar consumption could improve glycemic control by decreasing both blood sugar and insulin levels after meals.
Other studies show that acetic acid could also help maintain healthy blood sugar. In addition to delaying the emptying of the stomach to stabilize blood sugar levels, acetic acid could also alter the effects of several enzymes involved in metabolism to reduce the absorption of sugar and carbohydrates.
2. Improves Cholesterol Levels
Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance found throughout the body. Although you need cholesterol in small amounts, having high levels can cause fatty plaque to build up in the arteries, which can increase the risk of heart disease. Although research is mostly limited to animal models, some studies show that vinegar could decrease cholesterol levels to help keep your heart healthy and strong.
One animal model published in Lipids in Health and Disease, for instance, showed that administering vinegar to rabbits decreased levels of total and bad LDL cholesterol compared to a control group. In another study, acetic acid was effective at reducing total cholesterol and triglyceride levels, both of which are risk factors for heart disease.
3. Supports Weight Loss
Interestingly enough, some studies suggest that acetic acid, the main compound in vinegar, could be beneficial for weight loss and may also help decrease hunger and appetite.
A study in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition demonstrated that vinegar was able to slow the emptying of the stomach, which could support satiety and weight loss. Similarly, a 2017 animal model reported that acetic acid was effective at decreasing food intake and body weight in mice fed a high-fat diet.
4. Promotes pH Balance
Because of its acidic pH and antimicrobial properties, vinegar is often used as a natural remedy to help decrease bacterial growth, balance the pH of the skin and remove impurities.
There are several other potential white vinegar uses for skin as well; in fact, it is often used as a toner or to help clear up acne and fight skin infections. However, it’s important to always dilute vinegar with water before applying to the skin to prevent irritation or skin burns. Additionally, be sure to perform a patch test by applying a small amount to your skin to see how it reacts.
5. Kills Bacteria
Many of the medicinal properties of vinegar are due to its content of acetic acid. According to a review conducted by BG Trauma Center Ludwigshafen, acetic acid has been used for over 6,000 years as an antiseptic agent to disinfect wounds and help treat and prevent illnesses like the plague.
In addition to promoting wound healing and protecting against infection, some research indicates that vinegar could also aid in the treatment of nail fungus, head lice, warts and ear infections, all thanks to its antimicrobial effects.
White vinegar is a common ingredient used in a variety of different recipes.
It’s often featured in dressings and vinaigrettes and paired with herbs, spices and oils to give salads a tangy twist. Vinegar is also sometimes added to sauces or marinades, due to its ability to tenderize meats and vegetables.
It can also be used to pickle fruits, veggies, meat, fish and eggs. Not only does pickling alter the taste and texture of foods, but it can also significantly extend the shelf-life of these foods as well.
In baking, white vinegar acts as a leavening agent because of its acidity. It reacts with baking soda, which is alkaline, and can help add volume to cakes, breads and pancakes.
Vinegar possesses powerful antimicrobial properties, making it a convenient, affordable and versatile option as a natural disinfectant and household cleaner. You can use white vinegar for cleaning nearly any surface, including countertops, floors, windows and mirrors. Be sure to always dilute vinegar with some water before using as a household cleaning product.
Many people also wonder: does white vinegar kill mold? Not only can vinegar help remove mold, but it can also prevent it as well. Add undiluted vinegar to a spray bottle and spray any moldy areas. Let it sit for at least an hour and remember to wear a mask and gloves for your protection.
Vinegar can even be used to clean grease and grime from the dishwasher. Simply place a cup of vinegar in the top rack in a dishwasher-safe container and run through a hot water cycle. You can also use this method to combat hard water stains caused by the dishwasher as well.
Vinegar is also useful for removing weeds from your garden. It can be used alone or mixed with salt and dish soap to maximize its effectiveness.
Risks and Side Effects
Although white vinegar may be linked to several health benefits, there are a few potential side effects and precautions to consider as well.
First of all, white vinegar is very acidic and can trigger symptoms of acid reflux and heartburn in some people. If consumed undiluted, it can also irritate or burn the throat. Therefore, it’s best to dilute with water to prevent any adverse effects on health. If you experience any negative side effects, decrease or discontinue consumption.
Because it is highly acidic, it can also erode the enamel of the teeth over time. One study out of China comparing the effects of apple cider vinegar vs. white vinegar and other types of vinegar found that white vinegar may be especially damaging to the teeth.
If applied to the skin, it may also cause redness, irritation or burning of the skin. Be sure to always dilute with water and consider performing a patch test before applying topically.
Finally, keep in mind that vinegar may interact with certain medications. If you’re taking medications to lower blood sugar or potassium levels, talk to your doctor before adding vinegar to your regular routine.
- White vinegar is a common ingredient comprised mostly of water and acetic acid.
- Besides distilled white vinegar, there are several other types of white vinegar available, including white wine vinegar, white balsamic vinegar and rice vinegar, which is used as a common white wine vinegar substitute.
- There are a variety of potential white vinegar uses, both in the kitchen and as a household cleaning product.
- It may also be associated with several white vinegar health benefits, including reduced blood sugar, decreased cholesterol levels, enhanced weight loss, improved skin health and decreased bacterial growth.
- However, it’s important to dilute with water prior to consumption and take precautions to avoid adverse side effects.