According to the Center for Disease Control, high blood pressure affects one in three Americans. A contributing factor to both heart disease and stroke, high blood pressure can have serious health consequences. Claims that vinegar, a common household item, can lower blood pressure have been investigated in animal studies. Although the preliminary results are encouraging, the effectiveness of vinegar as a therapeutic agent to treat high blood pressure is still unclear.
High Blood Pressure
Often referred to as the silent killer -- because it can occur in the absence of symptoms -- high blood pressure, or hypertension, is a serious issue health issue. Your blood pressure includes two separate readings. The top number, or systolic blood pressure, represents the pressure in your vessels when the heart is contracting. The bottom number, or diastolic pressure, represents the pressure in your vessels when the heart is relaxed. A resting blood pressure reading of 120/80 mmHg -- millimeters of mercury -- or below is considered normal, while anything above is considered borderline or high.
Vinegar and High Blood Pressure
In a study published in the December 2001 issue of "Bioscience, Biotechnology and Biochemistry," Shino Kondo and colleagues determined that vinegar -- specifically acetic acid -- is capable of lowering blood pressure in spontaneously hypertensive rats. More recently, in an August 2009 issue of the same journal, Tomoo Kondo and other researchers noted a significant decrease in systolic blood pressure in individuals consuming 30 milliliters of vinegar diluted in a 500 milliliter beverage. The reduction was first noted on week 8 and continued to increase through the last week of a 12-week treatment period.
Vinegar comes in many varieties, but it is made in a two-step process. The first step involves the fermentation of sugars using yeast to produce alcohol, also known as ethyl alcohol or ethanol. The second step involves the conversion of ethanol to acetic acid. The end product and type of vinegar produced depend on the starting product. Distilled vinegar, also known as white vinegar, is made from corn or some other grain. By definition, vinegar must contain at least 4 percent acetic acid, but some varieties can contain as much as 8 percent. Distilled vinegars generally range from 4 to 7 percent acetic acid.
Distilled Vinegar vs. Other Vinegars
The few studies to date that have identified a relationship between vinegar and blood pressure attribute the effects to acetic acid. From that perspective, all types of vinegar may be equally as effective at eliciting a response. Some vinegars, such as apple cider vinegar, are more palatable and thus easier to integrate into the diet. While the results up to this point are encouraging, more study is needed to understand the exact relationship between vinegar and blood pressure -- and to determine its role, if any, in preventing and treating high blood pressure.