No, Vinegar is not Paleo but…
Vinegar Can Be Paleo-Friendly
Just like saukeraut and kimchi, vinegar is a by product of fermentation of foods rich in carbohydrates such as apples, rice, oats and barley. It is simply a fermented liquid consisting mainly of diluted acetic acid. In cooking, vinegar is commonly used in salad dressing, pickling and as preservative.
Making vinegar involves two steps. The first step is making an alcohol where the food is crushed and exposed to yeast. This ferments the sugar and turns it to alcohol. The second step is adding bacteria to the alcohol solution. This step further ferments the alcohol and turns to acetic acid; the major component of vinegar.
Vinegar is not Paleo basically because it was introduced to the human diet after the Paleolithic era. It is not a natural product of the environment but a result of a natural process like fermentation. Assuming that during the natural process, there are no preservatives, sugar or salt added and only natural ingredients are used to produce vinegar, then it may be allowed in the Paleo diet.
Types of Vinegar
There are numerous types of vinegar but the most common ones are apple cider and balsamic vinegar. Apple cider vinegar is made from apple or cider and has a pale to medium amber color. It is common in salad dressings, marinades, vinaigrettes, chutneys and food preservatives. Apple cider vinegar has antibacterial properties that can support digestion and immunity.
Balsamic vinegar is made from ethanol in grapes. It is very dark in color, concentrated and intensely flavored. Balsamic vinegar has two main types: traditional and Modena. From the name itself, traditional balsamic vinegar is produced by adhering to traditional practices and standards. The process involves reducing grape juice to 30% of volume and then fermenting over a period of 12 years in different wooden barrels. The other type of balsamic vinegar is the Modena which is the more common version. It is produced with wine vinegar, caramel and must of a grape.
Health Benefits of Vinegar
In addition to enhancing the taste of food, vinegar also offers a few health benefits.
- Vinegar contains polyphenols which are natural antioxidant chemical in plants that has anti-aging and anti-cancer properties.
- Vinegar contains acetic acid that forms during fermentation. Acetic acid has potent biological effects including antibacterial properties that prevent bacteria from multiplying. This is why vinegar has been used as a disinfectant and natural preservative.
- Vinegar has been effective in lowering blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. It improves insulin sensitivity and reduces blood sugar level.
- Vinegar can also lower cholesterol and therefore reduces risk of heart disease. This is because of the chlorogenic acid, an antioxidant found in apple cider vinegar which has shown to protect LDL cholesterol from oxidizing.
- Adding vinegar to one’s diet can help in losing weight. Vinegar can increase satiety that can lead to weight loss.
Vinegar is not considered as Paleo because it was not present during the Paleolithic era and it involves natural processes before it can be consumed. But because of the health benefits that vinegar can provide, it can be Paleo friendly. After all, Paleo diet is about eating healthy food that can benefit the body. It must only be considered that moderation is always the key. Sprinkling small amount of vinegar to your salad might not hurt you anyway and there’s no way that you will ever drink a glass of vinegar too.
What Experts Say About Vinegar… Is It Paleo?
“Vinegar is typically made with 5% acetic acid and may contribute to net acid load. If you are consuming plenty of fruits and veggies in your diet (about 30-35% total calories), a little vinegar occasionally should be no problem.” – Loren Cordain
“The primary component of vinegar is acetic acid, a product of fermentation by acetic acid-making bacteria. Acetic acid is a corrosive agent that can cause permanent damage to eyes, skin, and (I’d imagine) various orifices. It’s even flammable. Wow. Sounds awful, right?” – Mark Sisson
All you ever wanted to know about Vinegar and Paleo
Mark’s Daily Apple. Is It Primal? – Cashews, Fermented Soy, Vinegar and Other Foods Scrutinized
The Paleo Diet. Is Vinegar Consumption Permitted?
Paleo Magazine. Is Vinegar Paleo?
Paleo Leap. What About Vinegar?
Caveman Diet Blog.
Paleoholic. Is Vinegar Paleo?
Did we miss anything?
Comment below and let us know what you think. Do you agree with our conclusion?
photo credit: JeepersMedia Heinz Vinegar