What Exactly is Drinking Vinegar?
A new product I was introduced to while living in Korea was drinking vinegar. What exactly is drinking vinegar you ask? It is a fruity vinegar that you dilute in water and enjoy as a beverage. It has a pleasant tangy taste and is a great alternative to sugary juice or soft drinks. It’s not limited to just drinking it in water, you can also use it in salad dressings and other recipes.
The first time I had drinking vinegar was at the jjimjilbang (Korean sauna), my favourite place to relax. I usually enjoyed drinking the sikhye (식혜) as it is super popular, but I was finding it to be too sweet. My friend Liz recommended I try the plum drinking vinegar. I was skeptical at first so I let her order her drink first so I could taste it. It was delicious and the flavour so unexpected!
Korean drinking vinegar comes in many different flavours. The plum flavour is a favourite of mine. Other flavours include pomegranate, blackberry and blueberry. To make a tasty drink, dilute the vinegar 1:4 parts with water.
What are the Benefits?
After doing a little research, I discovered that this beverage is not only delicious and refreshing, but has also been shown to have some health benefits.
The acidic pH of vinegar helps the body to prepare for digestion by stimulation the production of digestive enzymes. It also helps to reduce the bad bacteria in the gut.
Helps the Absorption of Calcium
The acetic acid in vinegar helps the body to absorb calcium – great for healthy bones!
Increases Resistance to Cardiovascular Disease
Antioxidants found in vinegars and an influence on cardiovascular disease. Polyphenols present in vinegars could inhibit oxidation of LDLs and improve health by preventing cardiovascular diseases. Also helps to decrease blood pressure.
Works by breaking down lactic acid in our bodies that causes us to feel tired, therefore increasing energy.
Ingesting vinegar may decrease the glycemic effect of a meal, thus making the individual feel more satisfied and therefore reducing the total amount of food consumed. Also helps inhibit lipogenesis and fat accumulation.
Decreases Risk for Type II Diabetes
Insulin sensitivity has been improved through vinegar treatment in 19% of individuals with type 2 diabetes and 34% of individuals with pre-diabetes. Many placebo-controlled experiments have confirmed the blood glucose reducing or “antiglycemic” effect of vinegar.
Source of Antioxidants
Polyphenol compounds, such as cyanidin-3-xylosylrutinoside, cyanidin-3-rutinoside and quercetin, are secondary metabolites that have been shown to have high antioxidant activity. Antioxidants have the effect of being antihypertensive, anti-inflammatory, and anticancer antixodants.
So Where Can You Buy Drinking Vinegar?
You can find drinking vinegars at any grocery store in Korea. You can also find it easily online. This pomegranate one is from Amazon. Gmarket is also a convenient option if you live in Korea. Commercially available vinegars do have added sugars, so this is something to take into consideration when choosing a brand to purchase.
Here are the ingredients for a typical commercial grade pomegranate drinking vinegar.
Ingredients in English (I tried my best to translate):
Pomegranate vinegar 48.9% (apple concentrate (100% apple, from Chile)), pomegranate concentrate (100% pomegranate/60 Brix standard, from Spain), 3 colour authentic calligraphy vinegar, pineapple concentrate, fermented vinegar pomegranate complex (premium pomegranate concentrate from Taiwan), purified water, oligosaccharides, mixed prepared vitamin B complex, nicotinamide, calcium pantothenate, vitamin B6 hydrochloric acid mixed preparation (maltodextrin, ginseng, salt, citric acid) *organic acid, containing 2% acetic acid
There is a difference in quality and nutritional benefits of commercial vinegar compared to traditional vinegars. Traditionally made vinegars are shown to have lower sugar content and higher alcohol content compared to commercially made vinegars. Commercially made vinegars may also have additional sugar, natural or artificial, added as well as saccharide during the acetic acid fermentation.
Here is an example of a more traditionally fermented drinking vinegar:
Ingredients in English (to the best of my translation ability):
Persimmon vinegar (Korean, 100% natural fermentation), pomegranate concentrate (Iran, 65 Brix) 5%, apple juice concentrate (Korean, 72 Brix) 6%, aronia concentrate (Poland, 65 Brix) 2.5%, liquid fructose, fructooligosaccharide, honey.
By comparing the two ingredient lists from the commercially prepared vinegar to the more traditional vinegar, you can see how the traditional one has less artificial ingredients and how the fermentation method is natural.
Have you tried any Korean (or other types) of drinking vinegar? What are you favourite flavours?