By now you’re probably storing a bottle of apple cider vinegar in your pantry and your medicine cabinet so that you can use the natural cure-all as part of your diet and beauty routine. But did you know that there may be another vinegar that’s just as beneficial as your beloved apple cider vinegar? Meet coconut vinegar, its hipper cousin.
A popular acidic condiment in Southeast Asia and some regions of India, coconut vinegar is a natural product produced from fermentable coconut sap and the oxidation of ethanol into acetic acid. Healthwise, it has a lot going for it, according to Lynnley Huey, MPH, RD, a registered dietician and a nutritionist on Maven.
- Since it’s fermented, coconut vinegar a natural source of probiotics, which feed our microbiome—that community of gut bugs that keeps us healthy on so many levels.
- Because coconut trees grow in soil that’s highly rich in nutrients, the “sap” from the coconut blossoms is also rich in nutrients. Coconut vinegar is therefore a good source of minerals and vitamins, including potassium (which helps balance electrolytes, control blood pressure, and process sugar), ascorbic acid or vitamin C (an important antioxidant) and certain B vitamins, particularly B2 or riboflavin (an important vitamin that is essential in the body’s energy production, cellular function, and metabolism).
- It’s also low on the glycemic index, so it won’t spike blood sugar.
- Coconut vinegar contains all nine essential amino acids—the building blocks of protein that are often incomplete in plant-based foods, according to LiveStrong. Amino acids also play a role in oxygenating blood and keeping the immune system healthy, among other key functions in the body.
When it comes to healthful living, both apple cider vinegar and coconut vinegar can live amicably on your shelf. Although there’s a lot more research about the power of apple cider vinegar to lower blood sugar levels and aid in digestion, coconut vinegar is thought to have similar benefits. Huey cautions that we’ll need more scientific evidence to prove any specific health claims, and you should always ask your doctor before using coconut vinegar as part of your health regimen, especially if you already take blood pressure-lowering medication.
As a beauty treatment, coconut vinegar works similarly to apple cider vinegar, as all vinegar types have antimicrobial and antibacterial properties. You can apply it topically, but studies haven’t shown it to be a proven or safe treatment for conditions like acne or sunburn, according to Huey.
Like apple cider vinegar, coconut vinegar is too acidic to be enjoyed straight up, as it can damage your esophagus (not to mention erode the enamel on your teeth), so mix it with a little mustard and oil for a salad dressing or dilute it with water and honey and drink it as a morning cleanse. (Learn how to drink apple cider vinegar). And if you don’t want to have to think before you drink, then check out the new line of drinking vinegars from Suja, which are premixed. Huey recommends keeping your intake of coconut vinegar to 1 to 2 teaspoons and up to 1 to 2 tablespoons daily, to avoid potential side effects.
If you opt to go for plain coconut vinegar, then be sure to read the label carefully. For the full benefits, coconut vinegar should be created from coconut sap, rather than water. Coconut sap contains high levels of amino acids and probiotics and enzymes, whereas coconut water is diluted.