MONDAY, June 22, 2009 (HealthDay News) -- Not only is vinegar low in calories, but it might actually help avoid weight gain, a new study suggests.
In a study in mice, Japanese researchers fed one group a high-fat diet along with acetic acid, a main component of vinegar, for six weeks. The others were fed a high-fat diet and given water.
Mice in both groups gained weight, but the mice who consumed acetic acid gained up to 10 percent less than those given water, the study found. The results are in the July 8 issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.
In the lab, researchers found the acetic acid inhibited the accumulation of body fat and hepatic lipids, which include cholesterol and triglycerides, by increasing the expression of genes involved in fatty acid oxidation.
The genes produce proteins that help break down fats, preventing the fat from being stored by the body.
Vinegar, used throughout the world as a condiment and a preservative, has been used as a folk medicine for thousands of years, including to treat scurvy during the U.S. Civil War and to treat wounds during World War I, according to the Vinegar Institute.
Recent research has shown that vinegar might help control blood pressure, blood sugar levels and fat accumulation.
So does this mean you should douse your fish and chips with malt vinegar to make it healthier? The study didn't address vinegar's potential to help humans stay slim, but you can dream.
The Vinegar Institutes has more on vinegar, including its history and recipes.