With coconut milk, flour, oil and water leading the coco health craze around the world, you wouldn’t think we could come up with anything else. But the latest to hit the headlines is coconut vinegar – a sweeter tasting fermented vinegar that boasts the same health benefits as apple cider vinegar, but with fewer calories. Let’s see how it compares to the famous apple cider vinegar…
What Is Coconut Vinegar?
The coconut has been an extremely popular base for a number of healthy substitute ingredients in recent years, as the Western world moves towards healthier, more natural foods. But it has been around for a long time in other societies, used as a whole food, condiment and beverage. The fibrous one-seeded drupe, or dry drupe, dates back to at least 300 B.C. in some regions, according to records. Coconut toddy, which is an acidic alcoholic beverage made from the coconut palm, dates back to around the fifth century A.D.
Coconut vinegar is made with coconut water, or from the sap (‘tuba’) of the coconut tree. It is similar to other fermented vinegars, including balsamic and apple cider. The sap version comes with higher doses of nutrients and more health benefits than the coconut water version. While it is relatively new to the Western world, coconut vinegar is already a popular staple in Southeast Asia, particularly in the Philippines and some parts of India. It is a white and cloudy vinegar with a pungent acidic taste and a slight hint of yeast. As with apple cider vinegar, the cloudy floating bits are an important part of true and healthy coconut vinegar, which is known as the ‘mother’.
Nutritional Profile Of Coconut Vinegar (1 TBS)
Calories – 0
Total Fat – 0g
Sodium – 0mg
Total Carbohydrates – 0g
Sugars – 0g
Protein – 0g
This information, which is what you will see on coconut vinegar nutrition labels, looks pretty empty, doesn’t it? That doesn’t mean it is lacking in nutrients though – it’s just that food labels look at factors like calories, carbs and sugar, which we like to see the number ‘0’ next to! Besides having zero calories, sugars and carbohydrates, coconut vinegar has a number of powerful nutrients. That includes essential vitamins and minerals, and gut-healthy prebiotics and probiotics.
Coconut Vinegar Is Low GI
The glycemic index categorizes carbohydrate-containing foods by how much they affect blood-glucose fluctuations. Coconut vinegar rates a low 35 on the index. That is on a scale of between 0 and 100, with foods under 55 being considered low.
Coconut Vinegar Is Rich In Minerals
Coconut vinegar contains high amounts of 65 minerals, as well as B vitamins and vitamin C. It is made from the sap of coconut trees grown in volcanic soil. That soil is rich in minerals, including phosphorus, potassium, iron, magnesium, copper, sulfur, boron, zinc and manganese. Coconut vinegar from sap is particularly rich in potassium, with 192 mg in one tablespoon. Potassium is an important mineral for balancing electrolytes, regulating high blood pressure and metabolizing sugar.
Coconut Vinegar Contains Amino Acids
The sap from coconut trees contains trace amounts of the nine essential amino acids, which build protein in the body, as well as eight non-essential amino acids. Amino acids are important for forming hemoglobin to carry oxygen around the body, and antibodies to boost immune function. Some amino acids help repair tissue in the body and some transmit messages within the brain, known as neurotransmitters. Others are used by the body for detoxification and metabolic functions. In fact, it is a great alternative to warm lemon water in the morning…
Potential Health Benefits Of Coconut Vinegar
Coconut vinegar is relatively new to the US market. But, already it is famed for its gut-healthy properties, potential to aid weight loss and ability to fight infections. It provides the health benefits of coconuts and raw fermented vinegar all-in-one. But, in order to reap its benefits, make sure you buy the raw organic stuff. And look for coconut vinegar made from sap, rather than water.
1. Coconut Vinegar Has Gut-Healthy Properties
The 17 amino acids in coconut vinegar have an alkalizing effect on the body, which aid digestion. You can take a tablespoon of it before a meal to stimulate stomach acid concentration. This is already a popular treatment using ACV. Coconut vinegar contains beneficial enzymes, which can balance immune function, alleviate stomach issues and aid digestion. Raw, unfiltered coconut vinegar is full of prebiotics and probiotics, making it extremely good for gut health. Prebiotics feed probiotics, which ensures they can work in the gut to keep good bacteria healthy. Coconut vinegar is one of the few foods that has both prebiotic and probiotic properties. That makes it an extremely powerful gut-healing substance.
2. Coconut Vinegar May Aid Weight Loss
There have been many claims about the weight loss benefits of apple cider vinegar in recent years. Some theories have been debunked; others seem promising. One of the most likely ways it could potentially help you lose weight is by making you feel fuller for longer, which goes for coconut vinegar as well. Vinegar lowers blood sugar and insulin levels, so it’s only reasonable to assume that it can therefore help with weight loss. Some human studies have found that vinegar can increase satiety, which assists you in consuming fewer calories.
One study in particular found that eating vinegar with high-carb meals can increase your feeling of fullness. That led led to a reduction of 200 to 275 calories for participants during the rest of the day. A reduction in calorie intake, of course, equates to inches off the waist over time. This will not work in some miraculous way, however. If you simply add coconut vinegar to your same meals and don’t decrease your portion sizes or calorie intake in the 24-hour period, then it will have no effect on your weight. In order to make use of it as a weight management tool, it needs to be consumed with healthy carbohydrates. Your overall calorie consumption for the day needs to decrease as well. Try using coconut vinegar as a dressing on a salad at lunch and reducing your usual calorie intake during your next meal.
3. Coconut Vinegar May Help Stabilize Blood Sugar Levels
The anti-glycemic effect of certain unfiltered vinegar has a positive effect on blood sugar control. Apple cider vinegar and coconut vinegar are examples of unfiltered vinegars, which are great condiment options for diabetics. Coconut vinegar contains acetic acid, which is what gives it that sharp taste. Acetic acid can help keep blood sugar levels from spiking, which has a stabilizing effect on energy levels. This occurs because the acid prevents complete digestion of some carbohydrates. That slows down the transformation of carbohydrates into sugar in the body. There is limited evidence about the positive impact vinegar can have on diabetes at this stage. However, one study found that it could significantly improve postprandial insulin sensitivity in insulin-resistant subjects. It may, therefore, be a positive condiment to use with a healthy, diabetic-friendly diet to reduce the risk of blood sugar spikes and crashes.
4. Coconut Vinegar Has Antimicrobial Properties
All types of vinegar are great natural cleaning agents because of their natural antimicrobial properties. That is what gives them their bacteria-killing abilities. The organic acids in vinegar, especially acetic acid, work in the same way when consumed. They pass into the cell membranes in your body and killing harmful bacteria. While no studies have looked specifically at coconut vinegar yet, one study did look at the antimicrobial effect of rice vinegar on E. coli in lettuce. Researchers concluded that vinegar with a minimum acetic acid content of 5% reduced the E. coli bacteria population significantly.
How Does Coconut Vinegar Compare To Apple Cider Vinegar?
If you don’t like the taste or smell of apple cider vinegar, then coconut vinegar might be your savior! It turns out that coconut vinegar has the same health benefits of coconuts as well as raw, unfiltered vinegars like ACV. While far more research has been conducted into apple cider vinegar than coconut vinegar, it is highly likely that the latter has as many, if not more, health benefits. And, on top of that, it has fewer calories. Coconut vinegar has a slightly sweeter, less pungent taste than apple cider vinegar. That makes it an easier option to chug from a shot glass before a meal, if that’s your style.
How To Use Coconut Vinegar
Like we’ve just mentioned, you can down a shot of coconut vinegar before a meal to aid digestion and assist with weight loss. You can also use it as a salad dressing, or in a marinade recipe that calls for some sort of vinegar. If you already use ACV as a staple in your kitchen, then you can simply swap it for coconut vinegar, or switch between the two.
Take Home Message
At this stage, coconut vinegar is still too new a health trend in the Western world to 100% confirm its exact health benefits – the studies haven’t been done yet. But, with the same, or similar enzymes and nutrients as ACV, as well as some of its very own, it’s fair to conclude that it has the same or similar health benefits, with a less offensive taste!