Okay, so "vinegar drink" doesn't have the most appealing ring to it, but these are really just sexed-up versions of the apple cider vinegar shot you (and Hilary Duff, and Gabby Douglas, and your health-obsessed BFF who always seems to know what's up) take to detox every morning.
But instead of simply mixing the vinegar with water as most people do—which, let's be honest, is not so tasty—beverage brands big and small alike are blending the fermented stuff with ingredients that make it way more palatable, then bottling it for grab-and-go accessibility. "Drinking vinegars are made by muddling fruit and sugar [or alternative sweetener] together, allowing them to mix, and then adding vinegar, which ferments," explains certified nutritional practitioner and Conscious Conversations podcast host Chloe Elgar. (Think of it as the sober sister to your favorite bitter-based cocktail.)
Instead of simply mixing the vinegar with water as most people do, beverage brands big and small alike are blending the fermented stuff with ingredients that make it way more palatable.
If drinking vinegars haven't crossed your radar yet, they most definitely will soon. Mega-brands like BluePrint, Suja, and Kevita have all launched or expanded their vinegar drink lines this year, while boutique drink makers such as Live and GoldenBrew Tea have also followed suit.
And vinegars aren't just popping up in grocery store aisles; restaurants are getting in on the tart-y party too. Pok Pok chef Andy Ricker started serving them in his restaurants and they were so successful that he launched his own line, Som. And Sway in Austin has its own house-made line, with flavors like pineapple, strawberry basil, and turmeric.
Originally posted September 16, 2016. Updated June 23, 2017.
They're clearly trending—but what exactly should you look for when picking out a drinking vinegar? Keep reading for everything you need to know about the wellness-boosting drink.
Good for your gut (and much more)
Though any vinegar can be used in a drinking vinegar, apple cider vinegar is by far the most popular one—and in Elgar's opinion, it's the most beneficial. "It aids digestion, is great for circulation, and has vitamin C from the apples," she explains.
A big perk of all vinegars is that they help keep your stomach acid levels in check. "Vinegar really helps people with acid reflux because it regulates stomach acid and helps the body further break down proteins and fats," she says. It may seem contradictory to drink something acidic if you have a tendency to get heartburn, but studies say it works.
"The vinegars have great health benefits on their own, but what's really wonderful about drinking vinegars is you're getting an enhanced benefit of the herbs."
Another benefit: they're said to clear out your lungs, so drink up if you have a cold. "Vinegar is great for the respiratory tract because you naturally get acid from vinegars, which helps any buildup of mucus," Elgar adds.
And it's not just the vinegar itself that gives these buzzy drinks their power. Other healing herbs—like turmeric, ginger, and cayenne—are often added to the new bottled blends, and Elgar claims their impact is multiplied since vinegar is known to boost digestive absorption. "The vinegars have great health benefits on their own, but what's really wonderful about drinking vinegars is you're getting an enhanced benefit of the herbs," she says. Consider it a two-for-one deal with serious wellness perks.
The flavor factor
As anyone who's done a shot of ACV can tell you, it doesn't exactly go down easy—and no, closing your eyes and thinking about all of vinegar's health benefits doesn't make it any more palatable. That's precisely why experts expect this new wave of drinking vinegars to blow up.
"It's hard to keep up with doing a shot of ACV every day because it doesn't taste great," says Dr. Zelana Montminy, Suja's health and wellness expert. "You're more likely to make it a healthy habit long-term if you're drinking it in a way that actually tastes good." The brand rolled out five flavors this fall, ranging from cucumber ginger to hibiscus ancho chile (all organic and with added probiotics, for a gut-friendly boost).
"You're more likely to make it a healthy habit long-term if you're drinking it in a way that actually tastes good."
BluePrint hopes people will incorporate its vinegar drinks into their daily wellness routines, kind of like what their customers have done with green juice. "Our raw apple cider vinegar drinks can be consumed first thing in the morning to help jump-start digestion and eliminate toxins in the body," says the brand's general manager, Alex Galindez.
And while apple cider vinegar is what most companies are using in their blends, it's by no means the only player. Suja also utilizes balsamic vinegar in one of their flavors, and according to its vice president of marketing, Heather MacNeil, the brand is experimenting with alt-vinegars like coconut for its second wave of flavor releases.
What to look for when reading the label
"When looking at the ingredient list, you want to see that the three main ingredients are fruit, the [sweetener], and the vinegar," Elgar says, adding that it's important to check out how much sugar is in the bottle, too. (You want to stay well below the recommended daily limit of 25 grams, natch.) She favors drinking vinegars that use an alternative sweetener like honey or maple syrup.
Since vinegar enhances the herbs it's paired with, Elgar says to choose a flavor based on your personal health needs. Dealing with inflammation? Look for one with turmeric. Want to boost your immunity? Try a version with ginger. Or seek out drinking vinegars with added probiotics to up the ante on the healthy gut goodness even more.
Who knows—this might be the first time you actually want to spring for another round of your morning wellness elixir.
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