Apple Cider Vinegar has been a household favourite for centuries. Your mother has some, your grandmother has some, and I guarantee your great-great-great-great-great grandmother also had some. It's used in household cleaning products, topical wound or cut cleansing, skincare and, most significantly, health.
ACV has so many health benefits, from blood-sugar regulation to digestion and weight-loss, that it's not difficult to see why it's so popular! You can add it to smoothies, salad dressings or simply drink it with water, to boost your metabolism and general wellness. The recommended daily dose is approximately two tablespoons. ACV may be a miracle tonic, but consuming too much acid is actively harmful to your tooth enamel, throat, oesophagus and stomach lining, so don't over-do it.
In safe quantities, ACV makes a fantastic addition to a healthy, balanced lifestyle, supporting your health and weight goals.
However, a new contestant has been stealing the limelight over the last few years. Used in China and Japan since around 300BC, black vinegar is being touted as 'the new apple cider vinegar,' with more health benefits and a pleasanter taste. Fermented from rice, it can be added to soy-based dishes, used instead of salt to add flavour, or mixed into tasty, healthy beverages. The vinegar show-down begins.
So, how does BV stack up against our trusted ACV?
What is Black Vinegar?
Mentioned in historical Chinese texts dating back to 300BC, black vinegar has been a staple of China's health and nutrition scene for millennia. It spread to Japan and then further, and is used throughout Asia in sauces, drinks and dishes, beloved as much for its taste as for its beneficial properties.
There are two main methods of producing black vinegar. Japanese black vinegar is made by fermenting glutinous black or brown rice, whereas Chinese black vinegar uses other malt grains as well as the rice. Both methods make use of yeast and a highly unique mold: Aspergillus oryzae, better known as koji.
Koji is what makes black vinegar, and other fermented items such as miso, bean paste and sake, so distinct from other fermented products. It contains unique phenolic compounds, and it's slightly higher in amino acids, antioxidants and trace minerals than typical vinegars, including ACV.
With a complex, layered taste, BV lends itself to flavourful and inventive cooking. The fruity, smoky palate, with a satisfying hint of umami, is perfect for marinades, pork tenderloins, braised beef, chicken, dumplings, rice noodles, cucumber salad, eggs and vegan recipes using tofu or tempeh substitutes.
Two of a Kind?
Let's run through what both vinegars have in common.
Since neither contains calories from fat nor any negative nutritional properties, there's really no reason not to include both in your diet! Variety is the spice of life, right? Their distinct flavours lend themselves to different cooking styles and food types, so keeping both in your pantry is sure to be a win-win.
ACV and BV are both fermented products, so they're rich in acetic acid and the proteins, enzymes and bacteria that come from the Mother. This means both display the beneficial properties associated with acetic acid, like aided digestion, blood sugar regulation, heart health and weight loss, as well as the benefits that come from the Mother, for example, probiotics, gut health and immunity support.
So far, so good?
Black Vinegar takes the Biscuit
As far as goodness and health go, BV has a few advantages over ACV.
The unique phenolic compounds within BV, which come from the koji mold, have only been tested in small-scale studies, but they certainly seem to pack a punch! They not only affect the size of visceral fat cells, but can also impact their production and distribution! This means that BV has a significant effect on BMI, body weight and serum triglyceride levels.
Additionally, BV's higher amino acid and anti-oxidant content could be effective in combatting oxidative stress (too many free radicals hanging around) and chronic fatigue, by helping to prevent lactic acid build-up in muscles. Even better, BV can actively boost your body's natural ability to produce anti-oxidants! What more could you want?
Really, it's a win-win
If it's a case of choosing between two excellent additions to a healthy lifestyle, the best answer is usually both. No matter which vinegar you choose to roll with, and why, you'll enjoy health benefits galore and yummy foods, so there are really no losers in this show-down.
Since they have such different tastes, textures, histories and uses, having both types of vinegar handy is going to lend diversity and spontaneity to your cooking, all the while boosting your wellbeing!