Read an Excerpt
The Healing Powers of Vinegar
A Complete Guide to Nature's Most Remarkable Remedy
By CAL OREY
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2009 Cal Orey
All rights reserved.
The Power of Vinegar
Vinegar, the son of wine.
— Babylonian Talmud: Baba Metzia
More than 25 years ago, I had a weight problem. One night, I stepped on the scale in my bathroom. It was a shock! At 5 feet 5 inches, I weighed 150 pounds. I blamed it on typical American fast food and a slow sofa-spud lifestyle.
Things changed when I went to college. I wanted to be a dietitian. In basic nutrition class, I was smitten by the fact that food and health were linked. I'd spend time riding my bike to health food stores around town. My diet awareness soared, and my eating habits changed. I ate natural, whole foods and plenty of raw green salads splashed with red wine vinegar and olive oil.
My body took on a new shape. Within months, I weighed 120 pounds, and my attitude toward food changed. Food was my friend, not my enemy. I gave all the credit to learning about eating the right amount of the right stuff the way slim and healthy European women and men do.
Kris Cercio tried just about everything to prevent heart disease — the number one killer of women and men in the United States — but nothing worked.
Then she normalized her cholesterol levels by turning to the age-old remedy of apple cider vinegar. As an active 55-year-old woman, she is thin, but she faces the scourge of hereditary high cholesterol. "My doctor couldn't believe I got my numbers down in three short months," she says proudly.
Angelo Salcia is a 95-year-old man who uses his Italian family's old-fashioned remedies for good health. Every day, he takes one tablespoon of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar in a glass of warm water. After years of using this apple cider vinegar "cocktail," this senior remains active in body and spirit. He vows the golden liquid helps keep his blood thin and prevents arthritis.
For countless other people — and perhaps for you, too — the healing powers of vinegar are well known. Like me, people use vinegar not only as a versatile home remedy but also as an integral part of the renowned slimming, heart-healthy, and age-defying Mediterranean diet, where it provides a health boost by teaming up with fruits, vegetables, grains, fish, olive oil, and regular exercise.
If you haven't heard by now, listen up. Your health may depend on it. Chances are, you already have two great folk remedies in your kitchen cupboards. It's time to start using them more.
Medical doctors and even scientists are now saying just what folk herbalists in Europe have been saying for years, that both apple cider vinegar and red wine vinegar may have a host of amazing healing powers.
I remember as a teenager my mother made sure that I ate my "good for you" dinner. She used both apple cider vinegar and red wine vinegar in her dishes. On Sunday nights I enjoyed eating a fresh cucumber salad: sliced cucumbers, tomatoes, and onions smothered in red wine vinegar. And for dessert, a homemade apple pie was our treat. Real apples were always used for their wholesome goodness and apple cider vinegar for that extra tang. Well, it turns out Mom knew best.
Today, we know even more about the natural goodness behind these two vinegars. Both apple cider vinegar and red wine vinegar are good folk medicine. And this healthful duo promises to be a major home remedy in the new millennium, when alternative medicine will be widespread.
A survey published in The Journal of the American Medical Association shows that Americans paid more office visits to alternative medicine practitioners than to primary care physicians.
Medical researchers believe some known trace elements and even the new health-promoting "nutraceuticals" (nutrient supplements that act like pharmaceuticals, which are currently being researched for their potential to treat cancer and heart disease) may be in apple cider vinegar and red wine vinegar.
In addition, foods that are nutritious and prevent diseases are called "functional foods," according to the American Dietetic Association. Scientists have linked functional foods with the prevention or treatment of cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. And studies are ongoing.
The Apple and the Grape Yield Two Powerful Vinegars
Apple cider vinegar has been touted by vinegar gurus as one of nature's most healthful foods, especially if made from fresh, organically grown apples, then allowed to age. And now, red wine vinegar, the ignored condiment, may be its new sidekick, thanks to the grape known as "the vine healer."
People from all walks of life — as well as some vinegar pioneers and contemporary medical experts — believe apple-rich apple cider vinegar aids digestion, helps maintain weight, and keeps blood pressure down. Apple cider vinegar is also known to relieve congestion and maintain healthy skin.
One of the earliest doctors to praise apple cider vinegar was D. C. Jarvis, M.D. Dr. Jarvis strongly recommends its use in his book Folk Medicine: A New England Almanac of Natural Health Care from a Noted Vermont Country Doctor, a book that promotes alternative medicine. It's the potassium content, says Jarvis, that makes apple cider vinegar work. "It is so essential to the life of every living thing that without it there would be no life."
Potassium Plus in Apple Cider Vinegar
It's unanimous. As you learn more about apple cider vinegar, you'll continue to hear about the wonders of its high potassium content. Potassium in apple cider vinegar promotes cell, tissue, and organism growth.
In addition to potassium, apple cider vinegar contains these and other health boosters:
Enzymes: chemical substances your body produces to help boost chemical reactions in your body.
Calcium: necessary for transmitting nerve impulses, regulating muscle contraction, and maintaining healthy bones.
Iron: an essential mineral that is important for your blood.
Magnesium: a mineral that has many beneficial effects on you body, most important its impact on heart health.
Two of America's popular antiaging health authorities, Dr. Paul Bragg and Dr. Patricia Bragg, spread the good word about potassium-rich apple cider vinegar's health benefits, too. This health-minded team gives credit to apple cider vinegar as being one of the best aids to health and long life known to mankind. They give kudos to its natural substance produced by powerful enzymes — living chemicals.
And now, New Age doctors claim red grapes yield another amazing vinegar. Red wine vinegar, claim medical experts, contains healthful nutrients that are part of the "neutraceutical revolution," too. While it's apples that make apple cider vinegar what it is, it is the grape that may be the core of red wine vinegar's nutrients.
For example, one of the nation's leading authorities in preventive, nutritional, and environmental medicine, Allan Magaziner, D.O., founder and director of the Magaziner Center for Wellness and Anti-Aging Medicine in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, says red wine vinegar may have some disease-fighting antioxidant vitamins which are not listed on its label — and yet can be beneficial to our health and well-being.
Andrew Waterhouse, Ph.D., a wine chemist at the University of California at Davis agrees. Like in wine, red wine vinegar may contain a "new class" of antioxidants or polyphenolics — quercetin, catechins, tannins — which may lower the risk of heart disease and cancer.
Both vinegars have been noted for their folklore remedies in ancient history to modern times, and have gained the respect of countless people, past and present. Before I provide a guide to the health virtues of vinegar, here's what you need to know.
Polyphenols in Red Wine Vinegar
Like apple cider vinegar, red wine vinegar contains polyphenols, naturally occurring compounds that act as powerful antioxidants (enzymes that protect your body by trapping the free-radical molecules and getting rid of them before damage occurs).
Science continues to find new "cutting edge" health-promoting nutrients in grapes and red wine, and these may be in red wine vinegar:
Catechin: a flavonoid believed to prevent cancer.
Flavonoids: antioxidants that belong to the phytochemical family. They are the substances found in fruit and vegetables that give them their colors and flavors.
Quercetin: belongs to the class of nutrients known as bioflavonoids, which provides allergy relief and has been shown to protect from stomach disorders.
Resveratrol: a compound that may have anticancer properties; and may have substances that can also protect against heart disease.
Vinegar Basics 101
Vinegar is one of the oldest fermented food products known to man — except for wine and perhaps certain foods made from milk. The word "vinegar" comes from the French vin aigre which means "sour wine," a definition that is a no-brainer to anyone who has left a bottle of Chardonnay exposed to the air too long. And someone did just that about 10,000 years ago.
So what exactly is vinegar, anyhow? Simply put, when air is exposed to a fermented liquid, like wine or ale, bacterial activity occurs. This process helps combine oxygen with the alcohol. The end result: acetic acid or sour vinegar.
Vinegar: 1. an impure dilute solution of acetic acid obtained by fermentation beyond alcohol stage and used as a condiment and preservative. 2. Sourness of speech or mood; ill temper. 3. Liveliness and enthusiasm; vim.
— The American Heritage Dictionary
Vinegar can be made from any fruit, such as apples or grapes, or any material containing sugar. The following kinds of vinegar are categorized according to material from which they are made and method of production.
High-tech manufacturing companies speed up the vinegar-making process. Their method is to circulate fermented liquid through large vats, incorporating lots of air and quickly producing a product. Better-quality vinegars, however, are often left unfiltered and unpasteurized, in which case the bacteria or "mother" will form at the top.
Mother or "mother-of-vinegar" is a term used to describe the excess liquid that accumulates on top of cider or other juice, which turns them into the most nutritious vinegars for health. As the fermentation progresses, mother forms a floating clump or filmy substance, like a coffee latte with the foam on top. Mother, the latte-like foam, is a living mixture of "good" bacteria and enzymes.
All-Natural Orleans Process
The slower the conversion from wine to vinegar, the better the vinegar will be. If you're looking for good vinegar, you want one that's been made using the traditional, all-natural Orleans process, which takes weeks, not hours, to make vinegar. Early vinegar experts fine-tuned this method during the Middle Ages in Orleans, France.
The best vinegars are made from whole apples ground into pulp, cold-pressed to extract the cider, fermented in wooden barrels, and aged for at least six months. Organic cider vinegars are available at health-food stores and usually unfiltered. Other kinds are made from apple cores and peelings, then quickly processed. Some companies, such as Heinz, follow the traditional process of pressing whole apples for their juice.
Organic vinegars are made from fruits and grains that are not sprayed with chemical insecticides or pesticides. Natural types of repellents and fertilizers without chemical pesticides and fewer sulfites (a food additive) are used instead. Also the vinegars are free of chemicals or additives. In addition, natural vinegars are free of artificial colorings, flavorings, dyes, and preservatives.
Though the acidity and nutrient content of vinegars may vary, legal standards in America require vinegar to be at least 4 percent acidity, or 4 grams of acetic acid per 100 cubic centimeters. Most are 5 percent acidity. The acidity is defined by the word "grain," which refers to the amount of water dilution. For instance, a 40-grain vinegar is 4 percent acetic acid.
Despite vinegar's acidity strength, health experts are now discovering what the old country folks knew all along: both apple cider vinegar and red wine vinegar have amazing healing powers.
Important Healing Hints to Remember
New evidence shows that both apple cider and red wine vinegars, which are made from whole apples and red grapes — as well as other healthful vinegars — may help you to:
[check] Fight fat.
[check] Enhance your immune system.
[check] Lower blood pressure.
[check] Lower risk of heart disease.
[check] Prevent cancer.
[check] Slow the aging process.
In this book, I will show you how using both vinegars can be one of the best things you do for yourself — and your health. But note, many people will not want to reap the benefits of vinegar by drinking the healthy brew solo. While vinegar is great for salad, it also is a great seasoning for many foods. Vinegar has a vast number of uses in cooking, and I've included more than 100 recipes to help heal your body, mind, and spirit.
But first, let's go way, way back into the past. Take a close-up look at why and how vinegar is one of the world's first — and most prized — natural medicines.CHAPTER 2
A Genesis of Sour Wine
Pour vinegar and oil into the same cruse and thou wilt say that, as foes, they keep asunder.
— Aeschylus, Agamemnon (458 B.C.)
As early as 400 B.C., Hippocrates used vinegar to treat his patients. In the era of the Romans and Egyptians, there were many potent vinegars on meal tables. During the nineteenth century, vinegar was used as a healing dressing, and in the twentieth century, people drank vinegar cocktails of all kinds.
Today, nutritionists and researchers around the world continue to utilize other powerful uses of this universal liquid. And history shows that people of yesteryear took advantage not only of the internal benefits of vinegar, but of its external virtues as well.
Vinegar's great power is timeless. The earliest historical record of vinegar may be the Babylonians. In 5000 B.C. they made vinegar as an end product of a wine from the date palm. Since that time, vinegar has been used as a food preservative, a medicinal agent, an antibiotic, and even as a household cleaner. Then and now it's known for its "good" antimicrobial properties — it kills "bad" microorganisms.
Hippocrates, known as "the father of medicine," treated his patients with vinegar as an antibiotic. It was one of our first medicines. Hippocrates used vinegar to treat a variety of illnesses. For instance, he told his patients that oxymel (a honey and vinegar combination) was a good remedy for getting rid of phlegm and breathing easy. It is believed that strong acid, such as in the honey and vinegar, helps to clear up congestion.
Hippocrates also prescribed this potent honey-vinegar combo for other ailments. Not only was oxymel to aid in regularity, but it also treated respiratory disorders such as peripneumonia and pleurisy, too. Vinegar was used to treat inflammations and swellings and even burns. Also, the ancient medicine man used vinegar for disinfecting ulcerations.
Vinegar is mentioned eight times in the Bible: four times in the Old Testament and four in the New Testament. In fact, there is even a Vinegar Bible. In the sixteenth century the Clarendon Press in Oxford, England, typeset the word "vinegar" instead of "vineyard" in the top-of-the-page running headline of the twenty-second chapter of Luke. And soon, the edition was coined the "Vinegar Bible."
Since Biblical times, vinegar, known as "the poor man's wine," has played a major role in the lives of both the rich, such as in royalty, and in the poor. Laborers, for instance, would add a splash of wine vinegar to water, perhaps with a pinch of salt. This ancient version of an energizing drink was teamed with bread to help people persevere as they worked under the hot sun. Even in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, this age-old vinegar tradition was used by laborers. For example, a fruit-flavored vinegar known as "shurbs" or "switches" was used by workers during harvesting.
The Royal Power of Vinegar
Remember Cleopatra, the legendary Queen of Egypt? The strong-willed African woman led her husband, Mark Antony, into an ironic, no-win wager. She put her vinegar smarts to work. According to Pliny, a Roman scholar, the savvy queen claimed that she could eat one meal that would cost a million sisteries (an old Roman coin). The bet seemed absurd, since one human can only consume so much at one sitting, right? Not exactly.
Excerpted from The Healing Powers of Vinegar by CAL OREY. Copyright © 2009 Cal Orey. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
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