The health benefits of red wine vinegar are getting more attention thanks to the increasing amount of research performed on red wine and its supply of antioxidants. Although there isn’t a specific “Red Wine Vinegar Diet” promoted by a fitness, health or medical professional, a growing number of health-conscious consumers are incorporating red wine vinegar into their diets to boost their antioxidant intake.
Just like red wine, red wine vinegar is made from grapes. After harvesting, the grapes are crushed and the juice fermented with yeast to convert the juice’s natural sugar into alcohol. A second fermentation, using bacteria instead of yeast, converts that alcohol into acid. The resulting product is red wine vinegar. According to The Vinegar Institute, all vinegars sold in stores must have an acidity level of 4 percent or greater; most wine vinegars contain an acidity of between 5 and 6 percent.
In “The Healing Powers of Vinegar,” author Cal Orey notes that red wine vinegar contains polyphenols, a class of antioxidants also found in red wine. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals, oxidizing molecules within your body that can cause cancerous mutations as well as visible signs of aging and various kinds of cell damage. It’s likely that red wine vinegar also contains catechins, flavonoids, quercetin and reservatrol. Catechins may help prevent cancer, quercetin may help reduce allergies and reservatrol may help protect you against heart disease.
Orey’s book includes an interview with Ann Louise Gittleman, a famous nutritionist who believes vinegar is a key dietary component of weight loss. Gittleman notes that acetic acid, vinegar’s main ingredient, can slow down the rate at which your body absorbs carbohydrates. The fewer carbs your body stores, the fewer pounds you’re likely to pack on. Acetic acid, she writes, can also lower your blood sugar up to 30 percent and help your body to better transport and excrete toxins.
The magazine “Cook’s Illustrated” performed a taste test of 10 red wine vinegars found in most supermarkets. The 21 taste-testers identified one characteristic that set the best-tasting red wine vinegars apart: blending. Brands that combined different grapes or juices in their vinegars were able to produce complex tastes that worked well straight or in vinaigrettes. Types of blends include mixing red and white grapes, aged and unaged vinegars, Concord and vinifera grapes, or grapes and other fruit juices for added flavor.
Any diet that urges you to eat one food or rely on one food group at the expense of others is probably unhealthy. Georgia’s Fort Valley State University cooperative extension program notes that fad diets such as liquid diets and fasts don’t give you enough essential nutrients or calories, likely leading to muscle breakdown, fatigue, constipation or even heart problems. If you limit your caloric intake too strictly, your body goes into starvation mode, clinging to calories and slowing weight loss -- quite the opposite of what you intended.