Food cravings can happen for a lot of reasons. Often it’s just nostalgia, looking to recreate a happy memory that is associated with a food. Of course, we’ve all heard of pregnancy cravings and how the body can want for some unusual items. And then sometimes food cravings are caused by a dietary requirement – it can be your body’s way of letting you know you need something.
You won’t be surprised to hear that, especially with the nostalgia/happy factor, chocolate is the most common craving along with baked sweets. A sugar craving is one that we’ve all probably experienced at some point. However, there are some other food cravings that may surprise you more.
One of these is vinegar. It’s actually relatively common for someone to crave vinegar. So let’s look at the health benefits of vinegar and why your body might be telling you that it desperately wants you to eat some.
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Vinegar and antioxidant benefits
There are many different kinds of vinegar. It’s made by infusing a grain alcohol with oxygen, which causes bacteria to grow and then results in the formation of acetic acid. Two of the most common alcohols used are white wine and cider, although plain white vinegar is just made using a standard grain. So, if you choose a cider vinegar, you’re essentially enjoying vinegar made from apples (although it’s been refined through a couple of processes).
Apple cider vinegar varies depending on how it’s made – it’s not a standard product. This means that not every type will have the same health benefits, and they will have all likely lost some of the antioxidant benefits of natural fruit during the manufacturing process.
However, apple cider vinegar does have some antioxidant properties if you buy a good brand. These can help benefit your body by tackling heart problems and improving your immune system.
Vinegar can also have other health benefits, such as killing pathogens like bacteria. It’s very effective at neutralizing bad bacteria, which is why it’s used to preserve some foods. You might actually be craving ‘pickle juice’ instead of thinking you want vinegar despite them being the same thing.
Some vinegars have been shown to lower blood sugar levels, which makes it effective for anyone looking to manage their diabetes. It’s important that it is not seen as a miracle treatment though, and should only be taken as a standalone product on consultation with your doctor and alongside regular medication.
Other health benefits of vinegar include potentially aiding weight loss, as it has the effect of leaving you feeling more full, and studies have shown it can be a remedy for certain skin conditions, as the acids can help to re-balance the pH of the skin and create a natural barrier against harmful bacteria.
What does it mean when you crave vinegar?
Whether you’ve got a strong hankering for some dill pickles or you’re craving salt and vinegar chips, it can mean that your stomach acid is low. When you’re craving acidic foods, it can be your body’s way of letting you know that it’s struggling to produce enough acid and that it needs a helping hand.
Low stomach acid can be caused by a number of factors. One of the most common is stress. If you’re over-worked or feeling anxious, your body will react and that can mean you don’t have enough acid to effectively break down the foods you’re eating.
Another noted reason for vinegar cravings is that it can be a sign of a nutritional deficiency. If you aren’t eating a balanced diet and getting the right fruits and vegetables, and therefore the right nutrients into your body, it can crave unusual items like vinegar.
What do you need if you crave vinegar?
If you’re craving vinegar then it’s likely you need to eat some foods that are acidic or foods that are good for nutrients.
There are many fruits that can help with both of these. You can enjoy some delicious acidic fruits and add some much-needed nutrients and antioxidants to your body.
The most acidic fruits are, unsurprisingly, some of the citrus options available such as lemons and limes. While most don’t enjoy eating these fruits alone, their pure juices can help with a number of health benefits along with the acid. Some studies show that the flavonoids in these fruits can lower the risk of strokes, while they can also boost your immune system and lower your blood pressure.
Grapes are actually one of the most acidic fruits you can enjoy. They’re very high in Vitamins C and K, and they are high in many antioxidant compounds. Eating red grapes will also give you anthocyanins, which can help to fight some of the causes of cancer along with having anti-inflammatory properties.
Blueberries are one of the best fruits for antioxidants, and they are more acidic than apples and oranges. If you want to improve your digestion and boost your flavonoids levels to help your immune system and strengthen your heart health, blueberries could be an excellent addition to your diet.
Of course, you can’t discuss acidic fruits without mentioning apples, considering they are what ultimately makes the delicious apple cider vinegar. Apples are extremely nutritious and they can be really good for weight loss – they are filling thanks to them being high in fiber and water. Of course, if you’re using acidic foods to fight bloating (more on that below) then this makes apples a poor choice.
Many think that oranges are the most acidic fruit but their pH level is somewhere between 3 and 4, which is still pretty acidic but nowhere near the 2.0 that a lemon often is. Oranges are very high in Vitamin C and do provide many useful antioxidants including carotenoids and flavonoids.
It’s really important to note that, if you have a persistent vinegar craving that you think could be the result of low stomach acid levels or a nutrient deficiency, that increasing your consumption of these fruits alone is unlikely to resolve the issue.
If you have any concerns about your health that you think could be causing an ongoing vinegar craving that feels abnormal, visit your doctor. You might also be pregnant if it’s a craving for certain food items – if other symptoms line up then it may be worth getting a pregnancy test. Most cravings start in later pregnancy though, not the first few weeks.
Another thing to note is that over-consumption of acidic foods can be bad for your teeth. Foods with a high acid content are likely to erode your dental enamel faster. Don’t eat too many of them, and make sure to brush your teeth as soon as possible after eating something acidic.
What does vinegar do to your digestive system?
Because vinegar is acidic, it can help to aid digestion as it works with your natural stomach acid to break down other foods quicker.
So, if you’re feeling bloated, you could try apple cider vinegar as one way of helping to reduce your symptoms. You shouldn’t consume it neat though – it needs to be diluted, otherwise, it can be damaging to your teeth, your tongue, or your esophagus. Mix a tablespoon of the vinegar with a small glass of water instead and you should be safe.
It’s also recommended that you don’t ingest apple cider vinegar within 30 minutes of going to bed. If you do have too much acid in your stomach, laying down too soon after eating acidic food can cause acid reflux.
Or, you can try fruit juices, or a light salad with an apple cider vinegar dressing, as another means to tackling your bloating issue.
Apple cider vinegar is also available in capsule form. These supplements advertise themselves as being good for certain detox diets and to help manage weight loss. You should always consult with your doctor before you start taking acid-based supplements if you have any dietary conditions, as this can cause further problems.
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Vinegar, and in particular apple cider vinegar, is a really versatile product that has a number of health benefits. It can preserve foods like pickles, or make a salad even more refreshing and delicious as a dressing, or you can just try it diluted with water to help with bloating.
If you’re craving vinegar but don’t actually want to eat it, then any acidic fruit will help manage that, and can tackle some of the causes of vinegar cravings such as nutritional deficiencies.
With anything acidic, it’s important to only eat it in moderation. If you have a poor diet then acidic foods can cause acid reflux, a painful and damaging condition. It can also accelerate dental problems as the enamel is worn away.
Also remember that if you do buy too much vinegar, and you don’t want to eat it all, it’s excellent for toning skin or as an all-purpose cleaner. Use it to disinfect items, as the vinegar can remove stubborn marks and kill bacteria too.
Which is your favorite vinegar? Perhaps it’s a white or red wine vinegar instead of apple cider? And have you ever craved vinegar yourself? Leave a comment with your story.