I remember when I was a little girl, we used vinegar to color our Easter eggs. I never liked the smell of vinegar much, but I did like how pretty the eggs were once the color took. I also remember eating pickled eggs and pickled sausages, which both used vinegar. I sometimes liked eating fresh tomatoes or boiled eggs with just a little vinegar, salt and pepper.
As I became an adult and more conscious of my health, I began to explore natural alternatives for my household cleaning. I know now that vinegar is one product with multiple uses. It has benefits for the home (inside and out) and benefits for better health.
I am an avid viewer of "The Dr. Oz Show," and I always like to try things I learn from it, such as how to make under-500-calorie meals, belly-busting remedies using cinnamon, and how to clean the microwave and coffee pot without harsh ingredients.
My best friend from sixth grade, Jamesia, and her husband, are naturalists. Her husband is the most frugal person I know—even more than me. Jamesia is always telling me about the many uses of vinegar (like using it to sanitize and disinfect her home) and how her husband likes to experiment and make his own household cleaning products using vinegar.
When my husband and I bought our house, we wanted to have nice, stainless steel appliances. We visited salvage centers and thrift stores, and scouted Craigslist for good deals. One thing we purchased was a stainless steel dishwasher. The only problem: It had not been used and had sat for months in a garage. It smelled like dirty, wet socks and had dark stains that we assumed were permanent. I decided to run plain vinegar through the dishwasher a few times. What do you know? The dishwasher was clean and ready to go.
My husband was ecstatic, and he used it to clean our high-efficiency washer, too. These days, when we want to clean something right, sanitize it and feel good about not using harsh chemicals, our family mixes vinegar and water in a spray bottle and cleans the entire house.
Whether you are looking for cleaning alternatives or testing a weight loss theory, vinegar should be on your grocery list. I am no doctor or scientist who has spent hours in the lab conducting years of research, but I am a frugal, natural shopper always looking for ways to save money and to live life healthy. Since vinegar is not a drug, and it comes from nature, you can choose how and when you use it. As with any food source, use caution when consuming.
An Apple a Day
Using vinegar provides real health benefits. Gayle Povis Alleman, M.S., R.D. on http://www.howstuffworks.com, gives the real deal with the tips below. "Only apple cider vinegar should be used for anything personal, both inside and outside the body," advises http://www.diagnose-me.com.
"Do not use white, distilled vinegar as it can rob your body of essential minerals."
• Vinegar helps the body absorb calcium. Salad greens are full of calcium. If you're a vegan who has stopped drinking milk due to environmental concerns, a vinegary salad might be your best source for calcium.
• Vinegar seems to help people with type 2 diabetes. It may increase insulin sensitivity in those who are insulin resistant.
• Use vinegar to replace high-fat foods like mayonnaise and tartar sauce. Mixing vinegar with ginger, garlic and other fresh ingredients can help you replace those high-fat garnishes and dipping sauces. Mix and blend ingredients to get the perfect spreadable texture for sandwiches.
• Vinegar can add some much-needed spice to a diet. Any diet is more apt to work if it is tasty, and vinegar has only 25 calories per half cup.
• Washing produce in a mixture of water and vinegar can help remove certain pesticides, according to a small amount of published research. Vinegar also appears to be helpful in getting rid of harmful bacteria on fruits and vegetables.
Don't limit vinegar to your home and diet. Josh Peterson, writing on http://www.howstuffworks.com, gives these tips for your car.
• Use vinegar to remove unwanted bumper stickers.
• Clean the car's interior with vinegar and water.
• Polish the chrome on the outside.
• Put a bowl of vinegar in your car overnight to remove odor.
• Coat windows with vinegar to prevent frost.
http://www.Versatilevinegar.org has a list of vinegar's uses from Fido to your lawn and garden. The website says that these uses have not been tested but come from a variety of sources.
• To kill grass on sidewalks and driveways, pour full strength white distilled vinegar on it.
• Spray white distilled vinegar full strength on the tops of weeds to kill them. Reapply on any new growth until plants have starved.
• Adding two tablespoons of sugar and two tablespoons of white vinegar to a 1-quart vase of water will keep cut flowers fresh longer. Trim stems and change water every five days.
• A teaspoon of white distilled vinegar for each quart bowl of drinking water (for a 40-pound animal) helps keep your pet free of fleas and ticks.
• To get rid of odor on a dog, use a mixture of one cup white distilled vinegar and two gallons of water. Wet the dog with fresh water, then saturate its coat with the vinegar solution. Let the dog dry without rinsing.
• Dryer sheets and liquid softeners are filled with hazardous ingredients (such as Benzyl acetate, which is linked to pancreatic cancer, and chloroform, a neurotoxin, anesthetic and carcinogen), reports wellness website http://www.sixwise.com. Instead, "Add 1 cup of white vinegar to the rinse cycle as a fabric softener. For very large or heavy loads, you can increase the amount to 2 cups," writes Angela Brady on http://greenliving.nationalgeographic.com.
Keeping the Doctor Away (Maybe)
About a year ago, I read that apple-cider vinegar can help with weight loss, so I thought I would try something simple. I drank a large glass—half water, half apple cider vinegar. That was so wrong. About half an hour later, my belly was aching, and I was feeling nauseous. Next time, I'll heed http://www.webmd.com's instructions:
" ... Some people take two teaspoons a day (mixed in a cup of water or juice). ... A tablet (available in most health food stores) of 285 milligrams is another common dosage."
I can't personally swear apple cider vinegar helps with weight loss, because I was never consistent with drinking the stuff. And although the medical benefits of apple cider vinegar may not be scientifically proven, some data and lots of folk medicine insists that they are. Here's a partial list of those benefits from http://www.anyvitamins.com:
• Constipation: Fiber, such as the pectin in apple cider vinegar, assists the body by promoting regularity.
• Heart: The potassium in apple cider vinegar is beneficial to the heart. Apple cider vinegar promotes the health of veins and capillaries, and is useful in assisting keeping your heart and blood pressure healthy.
• Metabolism: People have used apple cider vinegar for centuries to aid in detoxifying the liver, to help digest rich, fatty and greasy foods, and for proper metabolizing of proteins, fats and minerals.
• Sore throat: Whether due to a bacterial or virus infection, a gargle made from apple cider vinegar and water can be a great relief.