Doctor’s Tip: Health benefits of vinegar |

Doctor’s Tip: Health benefits of vinegar

Dr. Feinsinger
Doctor’s Tip

Health talk

Joel Fuhrman, M.D., author of several books including “Eat to Live,” speaks about Advances in Nutritional Science to Live Healthfully Until 100, from 7:30–9 p.m. Saturday, April 6, at the Third Street Center in Carbondale. Tickets $20 at

There is a saying that honey works better than vinegar for catching flies, and there is some truth to that when it comes to catching flies, raising kids and training dogs or horses. But when it comes to our health, vinegar is better than honey — which is primarily sugar.

Vinegar is produced by fermentation of wine, cider and other fruit juices. It is basically dilute acetic acid, with flavor dependent on what it’s made from — everything from grapes (balsamic) to apple cider, pomegranates and dates. It has been used for centuries in various cultures as a condiment and preservative. It has also been used for centuries in folk medicine.

Dr. Michael Greger, M.D., in his evidence-based book “How Not to Die” and on his website, talks about vinegar’s proven health benefits. Here are some of them:

• Two teaspoons of vinegar taken before a meal blunts post-meal blood sugar and insulin spikes in diabetics and non-diabetics by 20 percent. A tablespoonful twice a day decreases fasting blood sugar by 16 points within a few weeks — as much as many diabetic meds such as metformin.

• Apple cider vinegar helps with weight loss via two mechanisms: It activates an enzyme (AMPK) that increases metabolism, and it increases satiety (you’re satisfied with less food).

• Black rice and balsamic vinegar enhance nitric oxide production in the endothelium that lines the arteries, resulting in arterial dilation.

• Vinegar decreases cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

• Vinegar decreases insulin resistance, which left untreated results in diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

• A tablespoon of vinegar a day was shown in one study to lower blood pressure.

• A tablespoon of apple cider vinegar a day for a few months restored ovarian function in some women with polycystic ovarian syndrome.

What’s the usual dose? Most of these studies used 2 teaspoonfuls three times a day with meals, to 1 or 2 tablespoonfuls once a day. As with most things, avoid too much of a good thing. People who drink vinegar have suffered burns of the esophagus, and people who have applied vinegar dressings to wounds have suffered severe burns.

For a salad dressing, consider plain balsamic or apple cider vinegar, or a vinegar-based dressing with no oil. Vinegar has 3 calories per tablespoon, oil has 120 calories. Next time you go to an Italian restaurant and they offer oil and balsamic vinegar to dip your bread in, request just the vinegar.

Dr. Feinsinger, who retired from Glenwood Medical Associates after 42 years as a family physician, has a nonprofit Center For Prevention and Treatment of Disease Through Nutrition. He is available for free consultations about heart attack prevention and other medical issues. Call 970-379-5718 for an appointment. For questions about his columns, email him at

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