Many health and wellness websites have sung the praises of apple cider vinegar as a cure for skin problems and other health issues. In the past year, it made headlines as the new magical elixir, except that it’s not a new remedy at all.
Vinegar has been used for various household and cooking remedies for centuries. It is also an ancient folk remedy, known to help with many health problems. Historians claim that even Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine himself, treated his patients with apple cider vinegar.
There seems to be a rather long list of what apple cider vinegar can do, and the internet is flooded with so much convincing information.
"Anecdotal remedies might have some merit — if it's been around for centuries, it's probably working," according to Carol Johnston, PhD, a registered dietitian and professor at the School of Nutrition and Health Promotion at Arizona State University in Phoenix. She has confirmed many natural benefits of vinegar through controlled experiments. "But you don't know until you do the science," she adds, “so don't fall for these unfounded claims that can do more harm than good.”
To help separate fact from fiction, we’ve listed some evidence-based health benefits of apple cider vinegar (ACV) for you:
1. Apple cider vinegar improves nutrient absorption
Apple cider vinegar is rich in acetic acid. The acetic acid in apple cider vinegar can increase your body’s absorption of important minerals from the food you eat. Acetic acid is not vinegar, but the bacteria found in vinegar that is a byproduct of the fermentation process.
It increases the benefits of the vitamins and minerals in your food. "When your stomach isn't producing enough acid, this impairs the absorption of nutrients as well as B6, folate, calcium, and iron," Dr. Kellman explains. This means that by adding apple cider vinegar in our diet, we can absorb more of these vitamins in our meals.
2. Apple cider vinegar promotes healthy blood sugar and prevents the onset of diabetes
Studies have shown that apple cider vinegar has high anti-glycemic properties that promotes a healthy blood sugar level. The vinegar blocks some of the digestion of starch, preventing it from raising your blood sugar.
A few spoonfuls of apple cider vinegar could help keep your blood sugar levels balanced, according to several studies that have shown a link between the two.
In one study, a group of type 2 diabetes individuals who weren't taking insulin found that taking two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar at bedtime resulted in lower glucose levels by morning.
Another study at Arizona State University found that insulin resistant people who drank a mixture of apple cider vinegar and water prior to eating a high carbohydrate meal had lower blood sugar afterward.
Scientists strongly believe that the antiglycemic effect of the acid is the key.
3. Apple cider vinegar may aid in healthy weight loss
If you’re looking to lose a few pounds, you might be pleased to know that it is also the acetic acid in ACV that helps to suppress your appetite, increase your metabolism and reduce water retention.
Researchers found that people who consumed vinegar before eating a breakfast of white bread felt more satisfied 90 minutes after eating compared to people who only ate the bread.
There has also been a more recent study done that indicates that acetic acid found in vinegar could prevent the accumulation of body fat.
In a double-blind, placebo-controlled study, obese subjects were made to consume vinegar drinks daily with apple cider vinegar, or a placebo drink that tasted like vinegar but contained no acetic acid. Both groups lost significantly more weight than the control group. Though the effect was moderate, CT scans showed the vinegar groups’ subjects lost a significant amount of their “visceral” fat, the abdominal fat that is particularly associated with chronic disease risk.
4. Apple cider vinegar possibly lowers cholesterol and promotes cardiovascular health
Having high cholesterol can lead to various heart ailments. There is a greater risk of cardiac arrest once bad cholesterol clogs your arteries.
Apple cider vinegar can help lower cholesterol because it contains chlorogenic acids that help reduce LDL or bad cholesterol, preventing its accumulation and crystallization in the bloodstream.
Daily consumption of ACV also increases bile production and offers liver support, which has an overall effect on your cholesterol levels.
The acetic levels in apple cider vinegar have also been shown to help reduce blood pressure, which is a major risk factor in itself.
It should be noted, however that these ACV effects on cholesterol and blood pressure are based purely on animal studies. Studies on humans have yet to be confirmed to further strengthen these claims, but the initial data shows great promise.
There are many wild claims about apple cider vinegar on the internet: from increasing energy levels, to teeth whitening, hiccup treatment, and even dandruff control.
Unfortunately, many of these claims are not supported by science.
From the limited evidence available, ACV may be useful and is worth a try. There are no side effects noted with normal consumption.
Incorporate ACV in your cooking, as a salad dressing or even as a dipping sauce. At the end of the day, the fact remains that apple cider vinegar is very beneficial as part of a healthy and well-balanced diet.