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Sour Power: The Health Benefits of Acetic Acid

Acetic acid might sound like something from your high school chemistry class, but it’s actually found in some of your favorite drinks, salad dressings and these quick pickled onions.

It’s the acid that’s responsible for the vinegar-y twang in… well… vinegar and kombucha. And this acid is good for you, too.

For acetic acid to be produced, the environment must be ideal. That environment starts with having fruit sugars present that can be fermented into alcohol. That alcohol is then converted into acetic acid through other yeasts and bacterias. One benefit of having acetic acid in a food or beverage is that it keeps other unwanted pathogenic organisms from growing. (Fun fact: acetic acid has a twin named lactic acid! Lactic acid is produced when fermenting vegetables – like lacto-fermented pickles and sauerkraut.)

Not all kombucha is brewed equally. There are actually different amounts of acetic acid in different brews, and if you brew your own, you can let your kombucha continue to ferment until it’s brimming full of acetic acid and becomes kombucha vinegar. Kombucha vinegar is great in sauces, marinades or anywhere you need a little acidic zing.

You may have heard about drinking vinegars and vinegar tonics as a natural way to cleanse your body. The benefits of drinking vinegar stem from the presence of acetic acid. The good news is, if you want the benefits of acetic acid, but don’t fancy guzzling down vinegar, you can still get those benefits from a tasty brew like kombucha. No need to seek out the most sour tasting kombucha either — a little acetic acid goes a long way to good health!

The health benefits of acetic acid include reducing inflammation, lowering blood pressure and keeping blood sugar spikes at bay. Acetic acid also has an alkaline effect, which helps all the systems in your body run smoothly. Suffering from pathogens or candida? Acetic acid can help with that too: it has an antimicrobial effect when you drink it.

So the next time you break into a bottle of kombucha or relish in that that zing from a dill pickle, know that among plenty of other benefits, the acetic acid in these treats is treating your body well.