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7 Benefits of Rice Vinegar for Better Health

More than a kitchen staple, rice vinegar is highly flavourful and packed with impressive properties. Discover the benefits and how to include it in your diet.

A partial view of a woman’s hands holding a bottle of rice vinegar, preparing to pour it on a spoon and a bowl underneath it.

Anyone growing up in an Asian household will surely be familiar with rice vinegar. A popular condiment in Asian cuisine, especially Chinese, it’s normally added to flavour salads, soups, and meat dishes. Besides its subtle taste and calorie-free property, it offers many health benefits. 

Derived from rice by fermentation, rice vinegar is used for marinades, sauces, salad dressings, or pickled vegetables. There are sweetened and flavoured varieties used as an ingredient in delicious beverages. 

Beyond that, the medicinal properties of rice vinegar have received acclaim from mainstream and alternative branches of medicine. However, it also comes with its risks. Read on to learn about its benefits and the best ways to utilise it. 

What is Rice Vinegar?  

Rice vinegar is popular in Asian countries like Korea, Vietnam, Japan, and China. Fermentation helps turns rice into alcohol before bacteria is added for the alcohol to convert into acid. As a result, it tastes warm, sour, and sweet. It’s also milder and sweeter than Western vinegar. 

Chinese rice vinegar is also known as Chinese rice wine vinegar, but it’s not to be confused with Chinese rice wine. Do check the label carefully before purchasing. 

The Health Benefits of Rice Vinegar 

“Rice vinegar has meridian and organ tropisms toward the Liver and stomach. As a result, it works very well to eliminate problems related to blood, toxins and digestion.”

Real Health Medical Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Physician Brandon Yew

Its medical properties include: 

1. Dissipating clots  

When pre-fried in vinegar, the herb Costus root (mu xiang, 木香) can regulate the Liver qi to treat Qi-stagnation and Blood Stasis-induced stomach pain and soften tension

2. Disintegrating tumours 

Consisting of vinegar, turtle shell (bie jia, 鳖甲) and ginger (gan jiang, 干姜), the formula Cu Bie Wan is used in TCM to treat abdominal masses, cirrhosis and cancer.

Chinese rhubarb (da huang, 大黄) can break down tumours more effectively in the abdomen after being fried in vinegar

3. Stopping bleeding and/or pain 

You can apply rice vinegar topically to treat the external manifestations of Blood Stasis, for example, bruises. It is also helpful against early-stage boils, and first- to second-degree burns. But, please seek professional help to avoid complications, such as infections and worsening conditions

4. Neutralising toxins 

In TCM, egg whites boiled in vinegar have enhanced effectiveness in treating sore throats caused by Toxic Heat

A bottle of rice vinegar lying on a bed of rice.
Rice vinegar has properties that help the immune system to become stronger.

5. Calming parasitic attacks 

TCM utilises rice vinegar to expel roundworms, especially the ones in the gall bladder. It can be used as an external wash to prevent or treat insect bites. Please consult a healthcare provider to prevent any complications.

6. Stimulating digestion 

As a cooking ingredient, rice vinegar can reduce the chances of or even prevent food poisoning by removing toxins in meat and fish.

Research finds daily vinegar intake might also reduce obesity, which is linked to digestive disorders.  

7. Reducing risk of heart disease  

Rice vinegar’s healing properties are also recognised by Western medicine. Studies find that vinegar can lower the risk of heart disease, help control blood sugar, and decrease cholesterol levels

How to Use Rice Vinegar

Physician Yew notes that rice vinegar is generally safe for everyone. However, it might have potential dangers for some people: 

  • Those on blood-thinning medications or suffering from bleeding disorders 
  • Patients suffering from gastric reflux, hyperacidity of the stomach, gastritis and other gastrointestinal conditions 
  • Anyone with low potassium levels, heart conditions and osteoporosis 
A top view of rice vinegar in a small bowl, surrounded by vegetables at an Asian-style table setting.
Rice vinegar helps you save calories while adding flavour to your food.

Here are five ways to use rice vinegar: 

  • Consume directly in small amounts. Use a teaspoonful to measure the portion 
  • Dilute in plain warm water and consume it as a beverage. Remember not to take it on an empty stomach as it’s very acidic 
  • Add to soups or broths 
  • Use as a marinade for vegetables, fruits, and meats 
  • Use as a topical medication. Please seek professional advice before you use it.

In some parts of China, locals would boil rice vinegar as they believe that the fumes can remove toxins in the air. But the acidic fumes can cause irritation to the airways and eyes. If you’re unsure about using rice vinegar as medication, please check with a qualified healthcare professional. 

More than a kitchen staple, rice vinegar is an age-old treatment trusted by TCM and Western medicine. If you haven’t added it to your diet, you’re missing out on a flavourful ingredient packed with many benefits. 

Have a tip about rice vinegar? Share your experience by leaving a comment below.

References

  1. The Spruce Eats. 2022. What is Chinese Rice Vinegar?  [Accessed on 26 March 2023]
  2. Pubmed. 2017. Vinegar consumption can attenuate postprandial glucose and insulin responses; a systematic review and meta-analysis of clinical trials [Accessed on 26 March 2023]
  3. ScienceDirect. 2016. Therapeutic effects of vinegar: a review  [Accessed on 26 March 2023]
  4. Harvard School of Public Health. 2019. The Nutrition Source: Vinegar [Accessed on 26 March 2023]

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Reviews (1)

MaryJun 20 2023

I use it on salads instead of creamy dressings – delicious

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