Technically speaking, vinegar was only introduced to the human diet after the Paleolithic era Thus, on that reason alone, one can say that no, vinegar is not Paleo. However, as you probably already know, the Paleo diet isn’t only about what was hunted and gathered in the caveman days, but also the benefits that certain foods have or lack. Just because it was or wasn’t from that time isn’t enough to determine whether something is or isn’t Paleo.
What is Vinegar?
Vinegar can be described as being a product of fermentation, similar to that of sauerkraut. It can be made from a variety of different items that are rich in carbohydrates such as; apples, grapes, apples, rice, oats, barley and many more. So, you can say that some vinegars are definitely more Paleo than others right off the bat. (The rice, oats and barley ones aren’t).
What’s Wrong With The Process?
As for the actual process of making vinegar, it is simply turning the base food (such as apples) into alcohol to then be fermented again and put into vinegar. The positive thing is that the fermentation process is said to produce a large cloud of probiotic bacteria which are basically the good germs that you need. As for the rice, oats and barley varieties, the fermentation process actually destroys most of the gluten, but you probably want to steer clear of those just to be on the safe side.
What Are The Health Benefits of Vinegar?
As mentioned, determining whether something is Paleo or not depends on a variety of factors outside of whether it was hunted or gathered. The benefits that it provides for your body is the biggest deciding factor. Vinegar contains high amounts of polyphenols, which is an antioxidant natural chemical that provides anti-cancer and anti-aging benefits that are found in vegetables. However, the majority of its benefits are said to come from the acetic acid, which forms during the fermentation process and is known for having the ability to digest starch. This is always good news, especially for those suffering from diabetes. Now, the benefits don’t end there though. Vinegar has been linked to providing weight loss, and are often used to reduce one’s blood pressure but is more so taken in supplement form for that. As for anticancer properties, vinegar is believed to have those as well, and is an old folklore for treating heartburn and acid reflux.
Unfortunately, many ‘store-bought items’ aren’t really what they say to be. For example, the vinegar in your grocery story may not have the previous benefits because it could potentially be far from being vinegar. It sounds complicated, but once you discovered the differences between traditional and industrial vinegars, you will be able to answer the question as to whether it is a Paleo friendly option. Industrial vinegars often use mechanical oxygenation to replace the fermentation process. Typically, the vinegar is pasteurized to kill those beneficial probiotic bacteria mentioned previously and as a result, the product doesn’t look as appealing. So, they do what they always do – they add chemicals, food coloring and other preservatives, because they look unattractive in the bottle. However, it isn’t believed to be as bad as it sounds. It is believed that other than the lack of probiotics, industrial and traditional vinegars have equal amounts of acetic acid, and as a result, the health benefits aren’t really affected.
However, it can be hard to look over those additives especially when you’re used to the chemical-free living of Paleo.
How To Choose a Vinegar
There are a variety of different kinds of vinegars, and all of them offer a different taste. However, the most common ones being;
apple cider vinegar which is easy to get in traditional form, balsamic vinegar which can be traditional or industrial, red or white wine vinegar which is used to cook with or for human consumption, and macerated vinegar which is a fancier product that has been infused with fruit for extra flavor and a boost of antioxidants.
Is It Paleo?
Technically, no – vinegar is not Paleo. However, with the benefits and process taken into consideration, there is no harm in having it. In fact, your health could significantly increase if you were to incorporate more vinegar into your diet as it is prone to encouraging a healthy heart and sugar levels. On the contrary, you must remember the moderation is key for almost everything. Use vinegar to dip your cucumbers in, or to sprinkle over your lunch salad but don’t get excessive with it. Mind you, it would be pretty impossible to chug a glass of vinegar so you truly don’t have to worry about having too much of this substance.