It’s long been an old wives’ tale that vinegar can help you lose weight – supposedly because vinegar and oil don’t mix. Now it seems there may be some truth to this after all – at least as far as the weight loss goes.
Researchers in Japan have found that acetic acid (the scientific name for the active ingredient found in vinegar) given to mice fed on a high fat diet resulted in the mice developing significantly less body fat than other mice.
The mice given the vinegar had up to 10% less body fat that the other mice. This result provides some evidence to the theory that acetic acid can “turn on” fat burning genes. These genes in turn produce proteins that are involved in breaking down fats, preventing the fat from accumulating in the body.
About the study
The study is reported in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. The mice were given acetic acid for a period of 6 weeks. The study found that this reduced the uptake of body fat without changing eating habits (i.e. the acetic acid did not make them eat less) or their muscle weight, implying that the reduction in weight was due to less fat in the body.
Dr Chris says:
“Well this is fascinating, but don’t forget ‘mice ain’t men’. Clearly there is something interesting here but obviously more work needs to be done to understand how the vinegar might affect fat absorption, and then this needs to be applied to humans to see if it still holds true. However, whilst we are all waiting we can enjoy the taste of vinegar while thinking about how it might be helping us to keep off the pounds – so here is some more useful information about vinegar, including a recipe idea you might want to try tonight.”
What is vinegar?
Vinegar is made from liquids that contain alcohol, typically wine but also cider, beer, fruit juices and other such products. The liquid is fermented, producing acetic acid from its alcohol (ethanol).
What is vinegar used for?
Vinegar is mainly used as a food condiment to add flavouring, as a medium for pickling and preserving other foods and as a component of sauces and salad dressings (where it is often mixed with oil).
Vinegar and medicine
Vinegar has been used in traditional health treatments, but generally there is no good scientific evidence for these treatments; however there have been studies that have suggested vinegar might play a part in lowering cholesterol and blood pressure. However these results have not yet been demonstrated in humans. It has also been used in the past as a treatment for diabetics, however this is no longer the case due to improved medicines.
Vinegar can be used as a cleaning agent in some circumstances. For instance, it can clean glass and other hard surfaces and is used as an ingredient in some household cleaning agents.
Ideas for healthy eating with vinegar
Vinegar helps to make excellent salad dressing. Why not combine the benefits of vinegar, olive oil, vegetables, eggs and fish by making a Salad Nicoise? Simply combine cooked eggs, tuna, anchovies, boiled new potatoes, green beans and tomatoes on a bed of salad leaves, and drizzle with a vinaigrette of your choice (combine olive oil, vinegar, Dijon mustard and freshly ground pepper for instance). Simple, delicious and healthy.