Vinegar During Pregnancy: Cravings, Safe Types and More

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While not exactly a staple food group, vinegar is more common in foods and drinks than you might think- not to mention often craved by many women while expecting. 

When pasteurized for safety, vinegar is safe to consume while pregnant. There are some drawbacks, especially if you struggle with pregnancy-induced nausea, as well as versions that are best used in moderation.

Mostly benign, the acidic solution also carries a few myths along. I’ll unpack these rumors, as well as clue you into vinegar cravings and the safety of different versions. 

What Does it Mean if I’m Craving Vinegar When Pregnant?  

Somewhat surprising, vinegar is another common pregnancy craving. For those who haven’t craved this food before, a hankering for vinegar might sound odd at first, but actually makes a lot of sense. 

Like other commonly craved foods such as citrus and pickles, vinegar is acidic. Unlike citrus and pickles, however, drinking straight vinegar isn’t quite as pleasant. So how can you satisfy your craving for vinegar? Try salt and vinegar chips, using vinegar-based dressings, or pickled foods for a similar flavor. 

Unfortunately, there isn’t any scientific evidence behind why women crave vinegar during pregnancy. What we do know is that cravings are a harmless and natural part of pregnancy.   

apple cider vinegar and white vinegar in bottles

Is It Safe to Drink Vinegar During Pregnancy? 

It is getting more and more common to find vinegar mixed into beverages and tonics, and many women turn to vinegary ‘mocktails’ during pregnancy as an alternative to unsafe drinks such as kombucha

Overall, vinegar is safe to use in foods and drinks with a few considerations. Pasteurization, which is the process of killing off any bacteria, is important to maintain food safety and especially important to keep both mom and baby safe.

Not all vinegars or store-bought vinegar drinks are pasteurized, so be sure to read the label carefully before purchasing.

Another thing to consider is vinegar’s acidity. Vinegar is highly acidic, and drinking undiluted vinegar can injure the esophagus (source: Clinical Endoscopy). If you do drink vinegar, be sure to dilute it with water or another liquid.

Some women (or their baby) also become very sensitive to acidic foods and drinks during pregnancy and may feel ill after consuming more than their body can handle. 

Often, pregnant women struggle with intense heartburn throughout their pregnancy. There are some reports that claim drinking vinegar can help. For women whose heartburn is a result of too much stomach acid, drinking vinegar will hurt more than help.

Similarly, sometimes pregnancy-induced heartburn can happen when the baby grows bigger, putting more pressure on your stomach. Since vinegar is also acidic, it can make the problem worse in both of these situations (source: American Pregnancy Association, Cedars-Sinai).

There is some evidence that drinking very diluted apple cider vinegar can provide heartburn relief, but there is still no official consensus on just how well this works (source: Current Gastroenterology Reports). 

If you are interested in learning more about apple cider vinegar (ACV) in particular, head over to our dedicated article on the safety of ACV during pregnancy

Can Vinegar Terminate or Prevent Pregnancy? 

Around the world, there are a couple of myths about vinegar. The first (myth) is that vinegar can induce miscarriage. The second vinegar-related myth is that the acid can also prevent pregnancy entirely. 

If you are trying to conceive, or have already, not to worry. There is no evidence to suggest that vinegar can either induce miscarriage or prevent conception. Drinking vinegar in excess is more likely to hurt you than impact your baby. 

Fertility-related concerns are always best handled by your medical provider.

Can Vinegar Be Used on Pregnancy Tests? 

Nothing is more nerve-wracking than the possibility of a faulty pregnancy test.

There are quite a number of things that can cause a false positive pregnancy test. These things include some of what you put into your body, such as certain medications (source: Houston Fertility Center).

Vinegar, however, does not make the list. Even taking apple cider vinegar, which is notoriously claimed to be able to affect a test, will not change the outcome. 

balsamic vinegar in a glass with fresh grape fruits

Is Balsamic Vinegar Safe During Pregnancy? Are There Benefits? 

Lead poisoning is no longer too common in the United States, thanks to the elimination of lead-based paints and other products. One surprising culprit that hasn’t gone away? Balsamic vinegar. 

Lead in balsamic vinegar is thought to come from the soil used to grow the grapes that the vinegar is produced from and can also happen during the aging process, as aged vinegar products were found to be highest in lead (source: Science of the Total Environment). 

California has even introduced Proposition 65, which requires testing and warning labels on balsamic vinegar. Some brands of balsamic are certified lead-free and can be a great option if you enjoy balsamic on a regular basis.

Balsamic vinegar is also quite potent, and usually, only a splash is needed. Even half an ounce of full-strength balsamic vinegar falls below the FDA’s acceptable threshold for safety (source: American Laboratory, FDA).

Despite all of these warnings, most balsamic vinegar contains only a very small amount of lead and is okay to use in moderation when you’re pregnant. 

Is White Wine or Red Wine Vinegar Safe For Pregnant Women? 

Hearing ‘wine’ is enough to give many expecting women pause, as no amount of alcohol is safe during pregnancy. 

Much like how cooking with alcohol lowers the percent of alcohol, so does turning wine into vinegar! During the aging process, the alcohol in wine vinegar becomes oxidized, turning it into acetic acid (source: Food Science and Biotechnology, Best of Culinary).

This is why you don’t find bottles of red and white wine vinegar in the liquor store. So while there may be trace amounts of alcohol remaining, the amount is so little that no harm will be done to your growing child. 

Red vinegar is another source of lead, but like balsamic, typically contains such a small amount that using it in moderation isn’t likely to cause any side effects. 

apple cider vinegar in a bottle with fresh apples

Other Types of Vinegar During Pregnancy:  

Vinegar is more than just balsamic and white, a few other common varieties include: 

  • Apple Cider Vinegar- We cover ACV in-depth here 
  • White/Spirit Vinegar- White vinegar is the standard base for pickling. It can also be used as a household cleaner. White vinegar is totally safe during pregnancy (and great for multitasking)!
  • Black Vinegar- Best known for transforming Asian-style dishes, black vinegar is a type of fermented grain vinegar. Be sure to choose a pasteurized variety to ensure safety. 
  • Vinegar Flavored Products- Love them or hate them, salt and vinegar chips satisfy cravings for many pregnant women. These products often use a very small amount of powdered vinegar making them less acidic and more likely to be tolerated if you have a sensitive tummy. 

Highly acidic, vinegar is both commonly craved and a possible source of heartburn or GI irritation. If you do want to consume vinegar be sure to choose pasteurized versions and dilute the vinegar before drinking.