Bitter but healthy

Vinegar has been a part of our kitchens for a long time. Apart from enhancing the flavour of recipes, vinegar, containing acetic acid, has long been used as a food preservative. The usage of vinegar as a food preservative dates back to 5000 years ago when Romans and Greeks exploited its multiple uses and benefits. The word vinegar comes from the French word vinegar meaning sour wine.

Produced by fermentation, vinegar comes in many flavours, each with its unique health benefit. Apple cider vinegar; white vinegar; rice vinegar; malt vinegar; wine vinegar and coconut vinegar are just a few. Used as culinary preservatives, vinegars though infused with range of medicinal properties, are hardly known for the latter qualities.

The one which stands tall among all is apple cider vinegar. It is made by the alcoholic fermentation with apple juice. Apple cider is used as a seasoning in all types of salads. Studies suggest that it helps in controlling sugar levels, blood pressure and reducing weight loss. It can also be used to control dandruff! In addition, ti acts as a hair conditioner.

Since it contains a large amount of fibers, and helps in the absorption of cholesterol and fats and eliminates them as waste, it is also beneficial in weight loss.

White vinegar, also known as distilled vinegar, virgin vinegar and clear vinegar is effective in killing warts due to the presence of acetic acid. Made through acid fermentation of distilled alcohol it is extremely sour. White vinegar helps the body in absorption of essential minerals, particularly calcium. According to a study, white vinegar can help people suffering from type-2 diabetes by bringing their blood pressure under control. White vinegar can also be used to treat insect bites, abrasions, cuts and rashes. Rubbing white vinegar on the affected area relieves pain. It is used more for disinfecting and cleaning than in cooking.

Nutritionist and dietician Mona Goel says the acetic properties of vinegars helps in digestion. “Vinegars fulfill the acetic requirement of the body and also improve the digestive system,” she says.

Vinegar made from rice has been used in Asian countries for over a 1000 years. It is made from rice wine and comes in three varieties – white, red and black. It is widely used for cooking in countries like India where there is abundance of rice. One of the most beneficial qualities of rice vinegar is its composition of essential amino acids. Amino acids are essential for fighting free radicals and maintaining a healthy immune system. Rice vinegar also contains over a dozen organic acids, which serve additional health benefits. Vitamins and minerals are more easily absorbed from foods that are collectively consumed with rice vinegar.

Made from grain, malt vinegar has been used for centuries. The grain is used whose starch has been converted by malt to an alcoholic liquid that is subsequently fermented to a 5 per cent malt vinegar. Bitter in taste it is being incorporated into many foods now. Research has suggested that malt vinegar may provide many health benefits at an affordable price.

Coconut vinegar is even more bitter. White and cloudy with a very pungent acidic taste and a hint of yeast, coconut vinegar, made by using sap, is a food appropriate for diabetic patients as it is low on the glycemic index.

So go ahead and add a healthy sourness to your taste.

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