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Reasons that Vinegar May Be Harmful in Food

Updated on March 26, 2012

As with many health fads, vinegar was once touted as a miracle health product and the internet was flooded with stories about how vinegar was useful from losing weight to curing cancer. Of course, such claims for the most part have not been proven and now there has been a sort of backlash against vinegar with popular questions being:

"Is vinegar good for you?"

"Can too much vinegar do damage to your body?"

"Is vinegar harmful to your heath?"

Such questions seem natural given the overload of positive health information that was doled out a few years ago. The truth is that too much of anything is not good for your health, even water for example. But the consumption of vinegar when done in moderation, particularly if it is mixed with other foods, most notably salads for example can have a positive impact on your overall health, if nothing so specific as curing cancer or losing vast amounts of excess weight.

However, there are some negative effects that too much vinegar in the diet can bring about. Remember that vinegar is an acidic acid and as such there can be health complications if too much is consumed at one time. Here are a few reasons why the excessive use of vinegar in food may be harmful to your health.

1. Medications

Vinegar can interact with certain forms of medications, most notably insulin in patients who have diabetes. While modest amounts of vinegar seem to have no effect, such as a light application on salad or other foods for example, a larger amount can interfere with insulin which helps rid the blood stream of sugars. Also, vinegar can interact with diuretics which are generally used to lower blood pressure. In both cases, the lowering of the intake of vinegar is generally recommended.

However, it must be noted that while apple cider vinegar does interact with digoxin, a common drug used for patients with atrial fibrillation if drank straight, when the apple cider vinegar was cooked in foods, there was no interaction at all.

2. Burning

There have been a few severe cases of the burning of the esophagus when consuming large amounts of vinegar, but these reports are generally few and far between. Drinking vinegar in large amounts is not recommended. However, even smaller amounts can irritate the throat or stomach if consumed without any food or liquids which would dilute the acid content of the vinegar.

3. Contamination

Even though vinegar is an acid, it can become contaminated at room temperature by yeast or fungus. These are rare cases, but it can occur if the vinegar is not properly sealed and exposed to yeast or fungus elements. Care must be taken with the storage of anything that is to be consumed, but in almost all cases, vinegar is generally safe when stored at room temperature if it is properly sealed.

Overall, there are generally very few negative health effects from consuming vinegar in small amounts, especially if it is mixed with food or other liquids. Conversely, the positive impact of vinegar has on the body may not be as highly rated as some of the unproven claims have suggested.


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    • visionandfocus profile image

      visionandfocus 5 years ago from North York, Canada

      Everything in moderation, even the good stuff. People on meds need to realise that there are lots of interactions possible, not just with other drugs, but also with common food items. Thanks for bringing this to our attention. Useful and informative hub. Thanks for sharing!

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 6 years ago from Western NC

      I have been wanting to come here to read this. I LOVE my vinegar. I take a waterbottle with water and a small amount (2 tbsp) to work with me every day. It keeps my energy up, and it helps with cramps. I am relieved to see that in moderation it's good. I've met so many people who swear by this stuff. Anything excessive is not so good, yep. Great hub and good info!

    • Cloverleaf profile image

      Cloverleaf 6 years ago from Calgary, AB, Canada

      Hi stugod, gosh you're right, pickled onions really are delicious and I haven't eaten any for ages! Can I come over for Sunday dinner?

    • Cloverleaf profile image

      Cloverleaf 6 years ago from Calgary, AB, Canada

      Hi incomeguru, good to see you. Thanks for coming by to read and comment, it is much appreciated!

    • stugod profile image

      Stuart Goddard 6 years ago from Bradford

      I like it too much to care if it is harmful. One use around these parts is to pickle cucumber and onions to add to the Sunday dinner. I will not eat mine without it.

    • incomeguru profile image

      Oyewole Folarin 6 years ago from Lagos

      Apart from being helpful in weight lose, i never thought it could be that harmful to health. Although, am aware too much consumption could be desastrous.

    • Cloverleaf profile image

      Cloverleaf 6 years ago from Calgary, AB, Canada

      AEvans, I believe that the shelf life is almost indefinite when sealed tightly. Because of the acidic nature of vinegar, it is self-preserving.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 6 years ago

      Good hub on the use of vinegar and possible harm from misuse. I didn't realize it could cause insulin reaction in diabetes. Thank you for sharing.

    • homesteadbound profile image

      Cindy Murdoch 6 years ago from Texas

      This is truly an interesting hub. I have read many things about the health benefits of vinegar. It is good to know about the not so healthy aspects of it as well.

    • Seeker7 profile image

      Helen Murphy Howell 6 years ago from Fife, Scotland

      This is a really interesting hub. I had no idea that vinegar could potentially interact with insulin for example. It's a very true saying that you learn something new everday. Great hub + voted up!

    • starstream profile image

      Dreamer at heart 6 years ago from Northern California

      Your hub has brought lots of conversation. It is a good thing to sort out all of our options for health and to be aware of some of the possible outcomes.

    • AEvans profile image

      Julianna 6 years ago from SomeWhere Out There

      I did not know that vinegar if not stored properly could become contaminated. What is the shelf time of vinegar? Great advice for those who are diabetic or on different types of medications. Thumbs up and shared!

    • itakins profile image

      itakins 6 years ago from Irl

      Fascinating hub - sometimes when we catch on to fads ,we can seriously overdo them.

    • writer20 profile image

      Joyce Haragsim 6 years ago from Southern Nevada

      Very good hub. Seeing as my husband had 24 hrs. diarrhea after using a balsamic vinger that I think we bought last Summer. Now it gone down the sink.

      voted up and interesting, Joyce

    • Cloverleaf profile image

      Cloverleaf 6 years ago from Calgary, AB, Canada

      DeborahNeyens, Rolly A Chabot, Joe Macho, Lady Guinevere, Victoria Lynn, Sunshine625, Turtlewoman, samadaslam - thank you all for coming by to comment on my hub!

      I am a big fan of malt vinegar (that's the Brit in me), and I'll be honest that I absolutely smother it over fries/chips (especially when it comes to fish and chips). It's a good thing that I don't eat chips very often otherwise I would be getting worried about causing harm to my body by eating too much vinegar!

      I haven't yet read any hubs about eating pickle juice yet, Sunshine, but I will look out for them. I was thinking about writing a pickle juice hub myself, for the know it all contest...

      Take care all,


    • samadaslam profile image

      Samad Aslam Khan 6 years ago

      Well very first time heard or read that vinegar can be harmful. I don't believe this idea but the reason you mentioned here are logical. Great hub Cloverleaf, Thumbs up and following you to read out more from you! Thanks

    • Turtlewoman profile image

      Kim Lam 6 years ago from California

      I'm glad someone wrote a hub about warnings on foods that everyone always claims to be healthy, cures problems, etc. As with taking any kind of medicine, it can affect a lot of different foods. Any person who makes drastic changes to their food consumption should always consult their doctor, especially if they have a specific condition.

      I only consume raw, organic unfiltered apple cider vinegar as an addition to my salad dressing. It would be questionable for people to drink LARGE amounts every day. I wrote an article on the quick relief of "emergency" muscle cramps during exercise by drinking pickle juice, but I wouldn't recommend drinking gallons of it everyday. And you're right, someone actually died from drinking too much water! Ok enough of my rambling.:-)

      Voted up, thanks!

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 6 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Very interesting hub especially after reading the recent hubs about drinking pickle juice! People just have to be careful. Great hub!!

    • Victoria Lynn profile image

      Victoria Lynn 6 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      Interesting hub. I've only heard the positive effects of vinegar, so it's great to look at the other side. Thanks for writing this! Voted up and interesting!

    • Lady Guinevere profile image

      Debra Allen 6 years ago from West By God

      Very interesting. This is akin to my hub on Bathing and how you can go overboard with the anti-bacterial soaps and such. I have a friend that takes vinegar for acid reduction, but I don't. Thanks. I will share it with him and the rest of my FB followers.

    • Joe Macho profile image

      Zach 6 years ago from Colorado

      Wow, with a pH of around 2.4, I would pretty much expect not much to grow in vinegar. It's interesting to hear of such bacteria and yeast that can. Thanks for sharing

    • Rolly A Chabot profile image

      Rolly A Chabot 6 years ago from Alberta Canada

      Thanks for this... wonderful healthy hub. I love Rye Bread dipped in Balsamic Vinegar with a meal.... may sound strange but is very good and sharpens the appetite.


    • DeborahNeyens profile image

      Deborah Neyens 6 years ago from Iowa

      Intersting hub. I hadn't heard anything about vinegar, good or bad, until researching my recent cabbage hub. I found out raw cabbage tossed with vinegar has long been considered a key to long life. But I do do see how vinegar could have negative interactions with some drugs. Lots of things do.