Drum roll please…
This super store cupboard ingredient packed full of beauty secrets and incredible health benefits is…vinegar.
Yep, you really did read that right, this chip shop favourite is the secret ingredient hiding away in pretty much everyone’s kitchen. Vinegar dates back more than 10,000 years and has long been known for it’s health inducing properties, but only recently is it seeing a real resurgence. Dietician and Author of Read It Before You Eat It, Bonnie Taub-Dix believes vinegar’s increase in popularity is because “Cleansing diets and juicing have become so popular and I think that’s created the recent buzz around vinegar”. New research has led doctors and scientists to classify vinegar as a ‘functional’ food; a food that is not only nutritious but also helps prevent and protect against disease. The acidic condiment is cheap and may seem basic, but it is actually packed full of many important vitamins, minerals, essential amino acids and enzymes. It is a great product to have not just in the kitchen, but also on your dressing table and in your bathroom cabinet. Read on and learn more!
Lowers blood sugars
Vinegar has been proven to reduce blood sugar levels, which means drinking just a small amount of apple cider vinegar before a high-carbohydrate meal can improve insulin sensitivity. Researchers have found that the physiological effects of vinegar are very similar to the anti-diabetes medications acarbose and metformin.
Balsamic vinegar can help prevent the oxidation of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), which is thought to contribute to atherosclerosis; a potentially serious condition where arteries become clogged up by fatty substances. This could eventually lead to a heart attack or stroke.
Vinegar has very potent antibacterial properties that are capable of killing bacteria and can help fight against infections. The acidic make up of vinegar decreases the pH value of tissue, which therefore helps prevent bacteria from growing on its surface. Due to it’s antibacterial qualities it is excellent at soothing a sore throat; just gargle a 50-50 solution of warm water and vinegar, or as a mouthwash rinse; dissolve 1 teaspoon of salt into a glass of warm water and add 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar.
Aids weight loss
By replacing unhealthy fats, such as those found in commercial salad dressings, vinegar can be just as tasty but much less calorific. Registered dietician, Bonnie Taub-Dix, recommends taking ‘a favorite dressing, even blue cheese, which is rich and high in calories, and dilute it down with vinegar. The vinegar adds a delicious flavor and cuts calories in half”.
Applying neat cider apple vinegar to a burn can minimise inflammation and swelling as well as calming the skin and helping to prevent blisters from forming. This also works for sunburn and really helps if the vinegar has been kept in the fridge.
If you add several spoonfuls of apple cider vinegar to a bowl of steaming hot water, place your head over it and cover with a towel, the vapours you inhale will clear your airways making you breathe more easily once again.
Clears a headache
On a similar note to clearing congestion, the vapours from vinegar can help relieve migraines. Mix equal parts of vinegar with water in a saucepan and bring it to the boil. Remove from the heat and placing your head over the vapours, inhale for approximately 75 breaths. If you suffer from tension headaches, try dampening a cloth with your favourite herbal vinegar, place on your head and lie down until the headache eases.
Can’t stop your hiccups? Try sipping a glass of warm water mixed with a teaspoon of vinegar and that should do the trick.
Relieves insect stings
If you are unlucky enough to have been stung by a bee or bitten by an insect, ask someone to make a paste from vinegar and cornstarch and then apply it directly to the affected area. The acid of the vinegar will neutralise the alkaline of the sting or bite. This does not work on wasp stings!
Relieves athlete’s foot
The anti-inflammatory properties of vinegar can help soothe the itchiness associated with athlete’s foot. Rinse the infected foot/feet several times a day in either plain, herbal or apple cider vinegar, the choice is entirely yours.
Stop night sweats
Menopausal night sweats, or sweats caused by flu, can be incredibly uncomfortable and will result in you not getting a good night’s sleep. Try sponging yourself down with apple cider vinegar before going to bed.
Prevents morning sickness
By drinking a glass of water mixed with a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar first thing in the morning, it should alleviate the nausea associated with early pregnancy nausea. The good news is that it is completely safe for the baby.
The anti-inflammatory properties of vinegar, in particular apple cider vinegar, make it the perfect solution for healing bruises. Soak a cotton ball or pad with undiluted apple cider vinegar, place over the bruise and secure it in place with a bandage. Leave this on for approximately one hour and the acetic acid in the vinegar will get to work by increasing circulation reducing the appearance of the bruise.
Vinegar is amazing on the skin – check these beauty uses out!
The acidity of vinegar is fantastic at balancing out the pH value of your skin and is particularly effective if you have oily skin. It acts as an astringent and can help close up the pores on your face, whilst cleansing and removing bacteria. To make a homemade toner mix 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar with 2 cups of water and apply with a cotton wool pad daily to cleanse and tighten the skin.
If you’ve overdone it on the beach and returned home resembling a lobster, try running a bath with 8 ounces of apple cider vinegar and soak for 15 minutes. The acid in the vinegar is similar to that stored in the outer layer of the skin so will help to rebalance the PH values.
Zaps cold sores
Applying a small amount of white vinegar to a cold sore will help dry it up as well as soothing the swelling and pain.
If you are prone to hyperpigmentation, either through too much sun exposure or because you are pregnant, try applying apple cider vinegar for just 10 minutes several times a day. Including this in your beauty routine can help reduce the appearance by essentially ‘bleaching’ the brown spots.
Soothe razor burn and bumps
Feeling the sting of sensitive shaved legs? Soothe your pins by soaking a cotton wool pad with undiluted apple cider vinegar and wipe over the problem area. The anti-inflammatory properties of apple cider vinegar can help soothe irritated skin and the acetic acid will also soften the skin, which helps any ingrown hairs rise to the surface of the skin and grow out more easily.
You can also use vinegar to great effect on your hair!
Women may wash their hair regularly and think their hair is lovely and clean, but many women don’t actually manage to wash off every last bit of styling product, which can still make hair appear dull. Simply by combining 5, yes just 5, drops of vinegar with cold water and then rub into the hair after shampooing, conditioning and rinsing. Leave the solution in and it will help strip away all the residue, leaving luscious shiny locks. Choose a herbal vinegar for a nicer smell!
Combine 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 3 egg whites and then rub into the roots of your hair. Comb down to the ends, place a shower cap on your head and then wrap it all up in a towel for 30 minutes. You will be left with beautifully soft, conditioned hair that will be the envy of all of your friends.
If your scalp is prone to dandruff or dryness rub a solution of 50% apple cider vinegar and 50% water into your scalp, before shampooing. The anti-fungal properties of vinegar helps restore the scalp’s delicate outer layer and wards off fungal growth.
Restores hair colour
You can prevent dyed hair from fading by rinsing it through with a mixture made from 1 part white vinegar with 2 parts cold water. This will help seal in the colour and prevent fading from sunlight. It is also an absolute life saver if your hair has turned green due to swimming in a chlorine pool too soon after dying your hair. Soak your hair with apple cider vinegar and wait for 15 minutes. Your hair should return to its normal colour and you will no longer look like an extra from the Muppets!
There are numerous varieties and flavours of vinegar available in your local supermarket, so how do you know which one to choose from?
Here’s our guide to the different types of vinegar:
Apple Cider Vinegar
This is the god of the vinegar world, as it is the most potent and health beneficial. As the name would suggest, it is made from apples, which means it contains the same nutrients. These include: pectin, beta-carotene and potassium as well as enzymes and amino acids, which are formed during the fermentation process. The high potassium content of apple cider vinegar helps promote the growth of cell, tissue and organisms within the body. If the body is low in potassium it can make a person feel lethargic so by adding apple cider vinegar to the diet it can help increase energy levels. The added benefit of potassium-rich foods is that they help prevent age-related illness, so it could even help you live longer! Apple cider vinegar also contains calcium, which as we all know is great for maintaining healthy bones, but calcium also helps transmit nerve impulses and regulates muscle contraction. The enzymes in this type of vinegar help boost chemical reactions in the body as well as helping the stomach to produce hydrochloric acid. Hydrochloric acid aids digestion and, as we age, levels of this acid in the stomach start to deplete.
Red wine vinegar
Red wine vinegar is one of the oldest types of vinegar and has been used as a health remedy for centuries. Historians believe it was thought that red wine vinegar was one of the reasons the Roman army were so successful. The Latin historian Spartianus reportedly noted that a drink made from red wine vinegar and water helped soldiers survive battle. Similarly to red wine, red wine vinegar contains a high level of flavonoids, which can help lower cholesterol levels and therefore reduce the risk of heart attacks, strokes and high blood pressure. This type of vinegar is also packed full of anti-ageing antioxidants, so add a bit of this to your salad and you could look and feel younger and healthier.
This is an Italian vinegar and the name stems from the Italian word ‘balsamico’, which means balm. During the time of the plague, balsamic vinegar was used as a gargle, tonic and air purifier to fight against the deadly disease. Traditionally balsamic vinegar was made from Trebbiano grapes; grown around the Modena hills in Italy. This vinegar has a sweeter taste and in more recent times has even been used in desserts, in fact it goes particularly well with strawberries. High in antioxidants and potassium, balsamic vinegar is another great addition to your condiments store.
Thyme is well known for it antiseptic qualities and the iron, magnesium, silicon and thiamine contained in this type of vinegar is wonderful for soothing coughs and relieving intestinal ailments.
Works wonders as an antiseptic and anti-inflammatory, it kills bacteria, viruses, fungi and other germs and fights against colds and flu.
Rosemary vinegar contains extra calcium, magnesium and potassium, which help to balance the fluids that surround the nerves and heart tissue. Rosemary is also known to help lower blood pressure.
So there you have it, a simple, everyday ingredient that you’ve been putting on your fries and salad for years is hugely beneficial in other ways too. Stock up your vinegars today, start putting some of these practices into place and you’ll be amazed at the changes that will start to happen!