Believe it or not, but vinegar was one of the most searched terms on Google last year.
There are so many varieties out there, some brilliant for cooking – or simply putting on your chips and salad – but the two creating the most buzz are cider vinegar for its supposed health benefits (Elizabeth Hurley, Victoria Beckham and Jennifer Aniston all reportedly drink it every morning), and white vinegar as a chemical-free, super-cheap way to clean your house.
Read on for the lowdown on what to buy – and how to use it…
The benefits? Devotees – who call it ACV (apple cider vinegar) – claim that 1tbsp each morning helps improve digestion, particularly for people with lower stomach acid levels, while the similarity between the pH level of our skin and cider vinegar is said to help restore balance to irritated skin.
With an acidity of about 5% (the same as lemon juice), it’s best diluted in warm water with honey added for sweetness.
ACV, it is claimed, can also stimulate circulation and tighten the skin – take 1tbsp mixed with two cups of water and gently wipe it over your face using a cotton pad.
And apparently it can help with your hair, too – the acetic acid is very effective at removing residue from product build-up, and used instead of shampoo, it helps add body and reduce frizz, to leave you with smooth, shiny hair.
The expert’s view
“There are elements of scientific truth in some of the claims made for adding apple cider vinegar to your diet,” says dietician Helen Bond. “If you add acidic vinegar to a meal, it lowers the overall glycaemic index (GI) of that meal. A lower GI means you’ll digest the meal more slowly, and this helps keep blood-sugar levels steady, which in turn makes you feel fuller for longer.
“There is also evidence that a low-GI diet is beneficial in the treatment of acne and spots.”
What to buy
Aim for an ACV that’s raw, unfiltered and unpasteurised. Victoria Beckham is an advocate of Bragg Organic Apple Cider Vinegar, R119 for 473ml, Clicks, which contains the ‘mother’ (the gunky-looking stuff at the bottom of the bottle that’s packed full of enzymes and friendly bacteria).
What can’t it do?
White vinegar has a variety of uses around the home, and diluted with water can be used as a cleaning agent on everything from non-treated metal surfaces to making your glasses and windows sparkle.
Added to your washing machine’s final rinse cycle, distilled white vinegar can help maintain the colour in dark-wash fabrics, and lightly spraying clothes with a solution of one part white vinegar and two parts water can help relieve them of any mustiness.
In the garden, it can be used as a weed killer. Or use it as a preservative for flowers – the addition of a small amount of white vinegar and sugar to a vase can help keep your blooms looking fresher for longer.
The expert’s view
“I always have vinegar in the house – it’s cost-effective, doesn’t harm the environment and is brilliant for removing limescale, particularly in hard water areas,” says cleaning expert and TV presenter Aggie MacKenzie.
“Use it to descale your kettle and remove build-up on chrome taps – soak a kitchen towel in vinegar, wrap it around and secure it overnight, and the scale will come away really easily the next day.”
What to buy
Safari White Spirit Vinegar, R16,99 for 750ml, Pick n Pay. A 1:1 ratio of vinegar to water makes a good all-purpose cleaning solution, and you can add a few drops of aromatherapy oil if you like.
Written by Emma Shacklock