Is Vinegar Good For You?

Is Vinegar Good For You?
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The role of vinegar in modulating our blood sugar levels and satiety.


Vinegar is helpful, according to an examination of the antiglycemic properties of vinegar this year. It blunts the spike in blood sugar that occurs after a meal. If you eat a piece of white bread, this is what happens over the next three hours to your blood sugar. But if we eat that same bread dipped in balsalmic vinegar, it looks like this.

Vinegar reduces postprandial glycemia by about 20% compared to placebo. How? Well, we think it’s because vinegar slows down the speed at which food leaves the stomach—which is good because it can keep us feeling full, longer.

How much do we have to take, though? Just two teaspoons with a meal. There are all sorts of wild vinegars out there—pomegranate vinegar, blood orange, black fig. They’re not just calorie-free; they’re good for us.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by veganmontreal.

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Vinegar is helpful, according to an examination of the antiglycemic properties of vinegar this year. It blunts the spike in blood sugar that occurs after a meal. If you eat a piece of white bread, this is what happens over the next three hours to your blood sugar. But if we eat that same bread dipped in balsalmic vinegar, it looks like this.

Vinegar reduces postprandial glycemia by about 20% compared to placebo. How? Well, we think it’s because vinegar slows down the speed at which food leaves the stomach—which is good because it can keep us feeling full, longer.

How much do we have to take, though? Just two teaspoons with a meal. There are all sorts of wild vinegars out there—pomegranate vinegar, blood orange, black fig. They’re not just calorie-free; they’re good for us.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by veganmontreal.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Doctor's Note

For more info on vinegar, check out these videos: 

And check out my other videos on vinegar.

For more context, see my associated blog posts: Soy milk: shake it up! and the first month.

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here

51 responses to “Is Vinegar Good For You?

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  1. Just wanted to clarify about the “calorie-free” nature of vinegar. If you walk into your kitchen right now and pick up a bottle of vinegar you will see on the label: zero calories. Does it actually have zero? No. According to the USDA nutrient database, it has 3 calories per tablespoon, but that is considered such an insignific­ant amount (how much vinegar can you really use in a meal anyway?) that the FDA allows them to label it zero (per 1 CFR 101.9(c) of the FDA labeling guide: “less than 5 calories [per serving] may be expressed as 0 calories”)­. So I should have said “virtually­” zero, or “effective­ly” zero. Given the effects on gastric emptying I talk about in the video, though, one would expect a net decrease in caloric intake, which is what matters in the end (i.e. why we typically care about calories). So there are actually technicall­y a few calories, but for practical purposes (and that’s what the website is all about–hel­ping inform people to making real-world day-to-day decisions based on the best available science) it’s essentiall­y calorie-fr­ee.

  2. Just 2 TEASPOONS, not tablespoons was the effective amount that was used in the study. But be sure to dilute it with something – a serving of food or some water or into a serving of salad dressing, before you ingest it.

      1. I believe that it’s rough on the tooth enamel. But some people do drink it (apple cider vinegar) straight up. I’d guess they put it in the back of the throat and swallow to keep it away from the teeth. Maybe something the good Dr. can checkout if it’s fact or fiction. :)

        Also heard you shouldn’t brush you teeth within 30mins of consuming vinegar.

  3. I have heard that apple cider vinegar which I know contains potassium, that is can also leach potassium, and can thus contribute to high blood pressure.
    Do you have any information about this?

  4. There are a baker’s dozen articles in the medical literature on apple cider vinegar (as indexed by the National Library of Medicine), and indeed there is a case report “Hypokalemia, Hyperreninemia and Osteoporosis in a Patient Ingesting Large Amounts of Cider Vinegar” that does suggest ingestion may lead to potassium wasting. Acetic acid in vinegar is rapidly metabolized in the liver into bicarbonate, which the kidneys use potassium to excrete from the body. So chronic use of high doses could lead to problems–the woman described in the report was drinking more than a cup of vinegar day! One would not expect any such problems as the doses described in the studies featured in the Is Vinegar Good For You? video (2 teaspoons with meals). I would, however, warn against apple cider vinegar pills. A study published in the Journal of the ADA of 8 such products found some “could be considered poisonous, as indicated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission….”

  5. What of ACV’s long reported ability to stop a cold/flu in its tracks? Are there any studies that confirm or deny this old folk remedy? On the same note, what of ginger, garlic and onions for the same (and vitamin D3 for that matter — I’ve heard one theory that we get the flu because the sun is at too low an angle to synthesize sufficient if any vitamin D)?

    Around this time of year everyone is always looking for safe natural remedy’s without resorting to ibuprofen etc. I also recall something about red seedless grapes, pineapple and a few other fruits and veggies being beneficial when it comes to cold/flu with grapes being most effective if you catch it early.

    Sorry, a whole lot of questions but all the same main idea. Nobody likes getting sick!

    1. Colds and flus are caused by viruses. Colds while annoying are less a concern than flu which can be a real problem. Avoiding influenza is complex area but the best overview I have read is in Dr. Greger’s book on Bird Flu available for free read on internet at… go to the chapter on “Our Health in Our Hands” for information on social distancing, masks, handwashing. Reading the whole book will provide a sobering context of the situation we may find ourselves due to CAFO’s and provide insight in to where the real danger to the world’s population arises. You could also view Dr. Greger’s answers to questions about being prepared during the swine flu infestation.… key is to be prepared not scared! I would not put as much faith in home remedies as the efforts mentioned above plus boosting our immunity through sleep see

    2. I would imagine the ph of vinegar might have a similar effect to the traditional salt water rinse, i.e. making the throat/back of mouth a somewhat less nice place for bacteria to breed.

  6. Dr. Greger, are you familiar with research linking high glycemic foods with incidence of macular degeneration? (NY Times reported on a 7/07 study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.)

    Is there any reason to believe that restricting high glycemic foods, adding in vinegar, or boosting antioxidants by eating lots of leafy greens would help prevent further development of severe macular degeneration?

    1. I’m so glad you brought this up. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading threat to eyesight among the elderly and responsible for millions of cases of blindness every year. The study you may be referring to is “Dietary glycemic index and the risk of age-related macular degeneration” available full-text here. As you’ll read, they conclude that “Low-glycemic-index foods such as oatmeal may protect against early AMD.” Eliminated refined carbs may also slow progression. A study published this year (and available full-text here) suggests that three simple lifestyle behaviors (a healthy diet “abundant in plant foods,” daily exercise, and no smoking) can eliminate most of our risk. See My video Egg Industry Blind Spot for a discussion of the best sources of eyesight-sparing nutrients.

      1. Thank you, Dr. Greger. This is precisely the information I needed, and I really appreciate your sharing the links to the full articles. I will be sure to pass this information along — the person I have in mind has been told, “There’s nothing you can do to fix this.” While that may be accurate, what she hasn’t been told is that there is something she can do to keep it from getting worse.

  7. Toxins,

    Thanks! I am interested in preventing macular degeneration (in myself) but also in arresting further development in a loved one who has severe, wet macular degeneration. My question for Dr. Greger had to do with that second concern – this far in, can anything be done?


  8. I have been listening to your articles and I find many good points that I agree with. In regards to taking vinegar with meals I believe that it shows lower levels of blood spiking due to the vinegar impeding digestion. A better choice for folks would be to not consume cooked and processed foods like bread (which converts to sugar anyway) that spike blood sugar and stick to a plant based diet that regulates blood sugar (especially living foods such as freshly harvested sprouts). If people ate more plants they would not need the vinegar and they would not feel like they were hungry all the time.

    1. That’s because someone has to be foolish enough to ask such questions. We have lost our true instincts and now someone has to tell us if the rotten vinegar is good or bad for us. “O faithless and perverse generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you?”

  9. Does vinegar cause cancer? Russian researchers say, no, not by itself but vinegar (acetic acid) increases
    the deadliness of any cancer-causing nitrosamines in our diet. Salt
    and sea salt always contain nitrosamines. Beef, pork, and poultry
    always develop nitrosamines (and heterocyclic amines) when they are
    cooked in normal ways. Processed meats contain nitrosamines even before
    they are cooked. The only way to avoid creating nitrosamines in
    bloody, raw meat is to boil it in water without adding any salt. Balsamic vinegar is by far the
    most delicious of all vinegars but it contains a substantial amount of
    lead, which is toxic. The lead comes from the oak wood casks used in
    Italy to manufacture balsamic vinegar. Distilled white vinegar is made
    from corn and is very low in lead. French’s Yellow Mustard,
    Worcestershire Sauce, Heinz Ketchup, and many other commonly consumed
    foods contain substantial amounts of distilled vinegar in their

    These 2 scientific studies from Russia say that vinegar does not
    cause cancer by itself but it increases the severity of the
    cancer-causing effect of nitrosamines:

    Balsamic vinegar is delicious, almost always made in Italy, and contains the most lead:

    According to Environmental Health News, “The aged varieties produced by the traditional method, which involved concentration in wood
    barrels for at least 12 years, have the highest lead levels:”

    Balsamic vinegar must be aged for a minimum of 12 years to a maximum of 25 years during which time the atoms of lead transfer from the oak or
    other wood into the balsamic vinegar.

    However, vinegar is slightly beneficial in causing weight loss,
    preventing and treating diabetes, preventing heart disease, preventing
    stroke, and preventing and treating high blood pressure.

  10. I love vinegar! I lived in China several years and vinegar is a staple. You will find (usually) three condiments and one spice on an authentic Chinese restaurant’s table: Soy Sauce (Jiang You), rice vinegar (cu), chili sauce (la jiao) and white pepper (bai hujiao)

  11. thank you for posting again Dr. Greger! My husband (diabetic) is on this kick from a book called PH Miracle. And that author concludes that diabetics must keep their bodies very high alkaline and does not want any vinegar in the diet. The author also wants readers to take alkaline pills which I guess are most sodium chloride – isn’t that table salt? – and to eat 4+ avocados/day (I did say 4) and liberally use cold pressed olive oil as salad dressings to help absorb vegetable nutrients. Luckily he does prescribe a most vegan diet – no grains/starchy veg, but allows some oily fish. Sounds a bit whacky if you ask me.

    1. Suzanne: Wow. I agree, that diet sounds super, super whacky to me. (Perfect word.) If you are able to get your husband to read the following book, I think it would do him (and you) a world of good. It not only includes great info, but has a set of recipes in the back of the book. And his diet is clinically proven.

      “Dr. Neal Barnard’s Program for Reversing Diabetes. The scientifically proven system for reversing diabetes without drugs.”

      If you can’t get him to read the book, you might start by seeing if you can find a YouTube video from Dr. Barnard on this topic. Someone told me that she found a 20 minute video from Dr. Barnard on this topic. Her husband had just been diagnosed with diabetes, but wasn’t interested in a vegan diet. But she got him to watch the video (sorry I don’t have a link) and her husband said something like, “Hmmm. He’s not a crackpot.” Now her husband is a HUGE believer. :-)

      Best of luck to you both.

      1. I second Thea’s recommendation to read Neal Barnard’s book. Other resources including a DVD can be found on the PCRM website. The diet from the book The PH Miracle is not the best diet for diabetics. I’m not aware of any good scientific studies to support it’s use. The recommendations you mention are not consistent with the current science. My patients who read and followed Dr. Barnard’s recommendations did very well. It is important to work with your physicians as medications need to be reduced quickly. Another resource is the McDougall newsletter article entitled, Simple Care Diabetics, in the December 2009 issue. Best.

    1. Dee, I don’t know if anybody else saw your question, but I’m wondering where you found this article. Who is the author? Dr. Jarvis, who wrote Folk Medicine, highly recommended apple cider vinegar. Whenever I eat out in restaurants I take a bottle of water mixed with two teaspoons ACV to help digest some of the questionable food items that are served to us. Works for me!

      1. That info is from the “80-10-10” diet, which advocates raw high carbs. I can’t speak to the correctness of the information there. Anyone have the sources he uses for those paragraphs?

    2. What was the original source of the information? I can find the book it was written in, but not the sources cited for these specific claims.

  12. Was recently diagnosed with GERD. I had been consuming about 2 tsp of Org apple cider vinegar in warm water every morning and eating a homemade garlic dill pickle with meals in the afternoon. The typical GERD dietary suggestions have you eliminating most acidic foods. So is it safe for me to be drinking vinegar or anything else acidic? I have also been drinking organic aloe vera juice, about 4 to 8 oz per day. But now am wondering if I should be doing that as well because the aloe tastes very acidic, like I’m drinking lemon juice in water, which I have stopped doing as lemons are on the typical list of foods to avoid. I have been diagnosed with a hiatal hernia in the cardia, erythema and congestion in the duodenal bulb and in the antrum & distil stomach body, & ring in the GE junction. I was prescribed omeprazole-sodium bicarbinate, but have not taken any of this, as I am very reticent of starting on any PPIs. I want to attempt to control this condition with dietary and physical changes, but the information out there is so confusing. Also high carb VS low carb diets? I’ve found resources for both points of view, and so I really don’t know what to eat. Right now I am following the typical GERD diet protocol, minus any meat or eggs. What suggestions might you offer?

  13. I haven’t touched vinegar of any sort in over 5 years due to its acidic effect once consumed. And even though I am a WFPB eater, I also like to veer on the alkaline side of things and so vinegar is way too acidic. I don’t miss it at all and indeed if I consume any foods that have it (when out for a meal say) then it ruins the taste for me.

  14. It is very strange for me that someone like Dr. Greger recommends rotten products for human consumtion.
    Vinegar is a product of bacterial fermentation and our food cannot digest in the presence of acid (other than or own HCL acid), whether it is starch or protrin we consume.
    Even a trace of acid with our meal is enough to completely arrest digestion and to destroy ptyaline as well as pepsin.(That is why fruits are recommended to be taken alone, as a separate meal, because it’s acid.)
    It will also arrest the flow of gastric acid, HCL, in which ONLY, our food can be digested.
    I am reffering to Dr. Herbert Shelton’s book Food combining made easy, where the rules of proper food combining are thoroughly explained.
    I would like Dr. Greger to comment on this fact.

  15. So after reading a few of the studies about vinegar, it appears that researchers believe acetic acid is responsible for the lower blood sugar spikes associated with consumption. If that is true then any vinegar (not just apple cider vinegar) should have the same effect, and in this study they specifically state “white vinegar” There are many raw food advocates that believe you need “raw” apple cider vinegar with the “mother” included. Is there any evidence that points to apple cider vinegar over any other vinegars and especially to the raw (expensive) apple cider vinegar, if it is just the acetic acid then even the least expensive vinegar should work, right ?

  16. I’m not particularly interested in the health benefits vinegar may provide as much as I’m interested in how vinegar might change the nutritional value in food. My parents always had vinegar on the dinner table, not only to add to salads, but to help us kids by making broccoli more palatable. I really like cooked broccoli doused with a good amount of apple cider vinegar. Did the vinegar reduce the health benefits of the broccoli? My grandfather didn’t like cooked carrots until he found them prepared by first cooking in water part way and then finishing the cooking in sweet pickle juice. I realize the sugar in the sweet pickle juice was part of the attraction, but so was the sourness of the vinegar. Did the vinegar reduce the health benefits of the carrots? Some Mexican restaurants serve vegetable mixtures of carrots, onions, cauliflower, garlic, and jalapenos that have been cooked in vinegar…same question about that. And I often put some vinegar on vegetables and salads. Some bean recipes call for a little added vinegar. And, Salvadorean restaurants always have a big jar of shredded raw cabbage along with a little carrot and spices in vinegar which patrons use to top many of their foods, like pupusas, for extra acidity. And a lot of Asian recipes use rice vinegar. Does the vinegar change the food in a bad way? Does it deplete or destroy nutrients?

  17. I really appreciate your work Dr. Greger. I see a little discrepancy in your stance on vinegar vs. your stance on refined oils and refined sugars. I wonder if you could give us an explanation. Although vinegar is not necessarily a refined product, it also is not a ‘whole foods’ product. So why do you say vinegar is so great (I believe you when you say it is), but that oils and sugars are not so great. I guess I am hung up on this ‘whole foods’ thing. You cannot denigrate oils and sugars because they are not ‘whole foods’ while at the same time stating that vinegar needs to be a staple. There must be some other criteria for distinguishing refined oils/sugars as ‘bad’, while the ‘non-whole foods’ vinegar is a life saver. Thank you very much for your time.

    1. edwindjb: You make a great point about not getting caught up in the ‘whole foods’ part of ‘Whole Plant Food BASED’ diet. We have to remember that the ‘based’ part means that some of the foods that are good for you may not actually be whole foods. Green tea is another example. While ‘wholeness’ can be a nice general guide, in the end, the determination on what is relatively healthy vs relatively unhealthy is the science, not the ‘wholeness’ of the food. For example, Dr. Greger has several videos showing what the science says about oil and it isn’t good. Dr. Greger generally recommends against oils because of that science, not because oils don’t fit the ‘whole food’ part of the label of the diet. I hope that makes sense.

      As for vinegar: This video is relatively old. In the next volume of videos coming out soon, Dr. Greger has a whole series coming out on vinegar. I think it’s going to be exciting to see what the latest science says on the topic. I believe that vinegar continues to look good. But we shall soon see.

  18. I know this is a rather old post, but I reviewed the literature and they have been of very small sample sizes (less than 20), and there have also been other studies that show there has not been the same effect. ie conflicting. Also, there are safer options to delay gastric emptying, like increasing fiber or increasing fat content. Or even conversion of carbs to resistant starch to reduce blood sugar effect. What are your views on this?

  19. I’m concerned about Lead levels in balsamic vinegar’s, especially those sourced from Italy seem to have higher levels. What limit should I apply to my vinegar consumption to avoid lead causing me problems?

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