Apple cider vinegar is the darling of the natural health community, and it’s been touted as a cure-all for everything from acne to high blood pressure. Modern medicine has only recently begun investigating these claims, and there’s still a lot of misinformation out there about what apple cider can and cannot assist with.
We looked at the science to see which conditions apple cider vinegar has been proven to help with and which it may even be harmful for. The results may surprise you.
What is Apple Cider Vinegar?
Apple cider vinegar is apple cider that has been fermented. This two-part process uses yeast to convert the fruit sugars into alcohol, then specialized bacteria is added to turn the alcohol into acetic acid.
The result is a product with 0 calories and sugars, compared to traditional apple cider, as well as a number of healthy enzymes and probiotics that are created through the fermentation process.
What It’s Good For
Scientific studies have confirmed some of the beneficial effects of apple cider vinegar, including the ones listed below.
Promoting Healthy Blood Sugar
Taking a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar right before a meal has been shown to support lower glucose levels and help maintain healthy blood sugar responses after meals.* One study found that vinegar decreased blood sugar levels by 31 percent after eating 50 mg of white bread.1
Regular consumption of vinegar has also been shown to improve insulin sensitivity, enabling your body to more efficiently use the sugars it is consuming.* Diabetic patients in one study saw as much as a 34 percent improvement in their insulin sensitivity after consuming 20 g of apple cider vinegar before a meal.2
Supporting Weight Loss
While maintaining healthy blood sugar levels can itself contribute to weight loss, apple cider vinegar has proven to have even more benefits for those trying to shed some unwanted pounds.
It’s believed that part of the reason apple cider vinegar contributes to weight loss is that it increases satiety – the feeling of being full. In one study, subjects who took apple cider vinegar consumed 200 to 275 fewer calories per day.4 Combined with a healthy diet and exercise, the effects could be even more significant.
Maintaining A Healthy Heart
Apple cider vinegar may also help optimize heart health.* One study showed that apple cider vinegar lowered triglycerides and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels in rat test subjects, while raising levels of the beneficial high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol.5
There’s also some evidence that the acetic acid in apple cider vinegar may help lower blood pressure, another key risk factor for heart disease.6*
Supporting Our Gut Bacteria
The antibacterial properties of apple cider vinegar have been known for millennia, and now they’ve been confirmed by modern science.7 Many today use it as a part of natural household cleaners, but this antimicrobial quality can also be useful for your body by helping to eliminate unwanted bacteria.*
Apple cider vinegar is also a prebiotic. This means that it helps promote the growth of healthy bacteria throughout your digestive system, which also work to combat the growth of unhealthy bacteria.*
One study suggests that apple cider vinegar may help to alleviate occasional heartburn symptoms caused by acid reflux.8 But the report acknowledges that future research is needed to understand the true benefits of apple cider vinegar for occasional heartburn.
What It’s Not Good For
Apple cider vinegar supposedly works on a number of other health conditions, but not all of these claims are backed by science, and sometimes vinegar can be more harmful than helpful.
Many people claim that apple cider vinegar can be used as a natural alternative to tooth whitening treatments, either by rubbing it directly onto your teeth or by mixing it into a paste or mouthwash. While it’s true that this can work, it’s probably not your best option for removing stubborn stains.
Apple cider vinegar is highly acidic, and too much can destroy your tooth enamel, leading to cavities and other dental problems. It’s better to stick to a traditional whitening toothpaste, or if you are going to use apple cider vinegar, make sure it is heavily diluted.
Apple cider vinegar has long been considered a natural remedy for acne because of its ability to dry out pimples, but this is also something to be wary of. Too much apple cider vinegar can end up irritating your skin, and in severe cases, it may even cause chemical burns.
Soothing Coughs and Sore Throats
Coughs and sore throats have supposedly been cured by apple cider vinegar as well, but its high acidity could cause this remedy to backfire, especially if the vinegar is taken undiluted.
How Do I Get Started?
It’s best to purchase organic, raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar whenever possible. This preserves the “mother,” a colony of beneficial bacteria and enzymes that help to promote good digestive health. If you purchase filtered or pasteurized vinegar, you will miss out on these bacteria and enzymes, and you may not get as much benefit from the product. Enzymedica Apple Cider Vinegar capsules are from real wild picked apples and contain the nutritious mother, without the potential damage to tooth enamel.
It’s best to take apple cider vinegar before meals, especially if you want to take advantage of its possible benefit on satiety. If you’re currently taking medication, it’s best to speak with your doctor or natural health professional before introducing apple cider vinegar into your diet, to make sure that it won’t interfere with your existing medications.
Brighenti, F., Castellani, G., Benini, L., Casiraghi, M.C., Leopardi, E., Crovetti, R., Testolin, G. (1995, Apr.) Effect of neutralized and native vinegar on blood glucose and acetate responses to a mixed meal in healthy subjects. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 49(4):242-7.
2 Johnston, C.S., Kim, C.M., Buller, A.J. (2004). Vinegar Improves Insulin Sensitivity to a High-Carbohydrate Meal in Subjects With Insulin Resistance or Type 2 Diabetes. Diabetes Care. 27(1): 281-282.
3 Kondo, T., Kishi, M., Fushimi, T., Ugajin, S., Kaga, T. (2009, Aug.). Vinegar intake reduces body weight, body fat mass, and serum triglyceride levels in obese Japanese subjects. Bioscience, Biotechnology and Biochemistry. 73(8):1837-43.
4 Johnston, C.S., Buller, A.J. (2005). Vinegar and peanut products as complementary foods to restore postprandial glycemia. Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 105(12):1939-42.
5 Shishehbor, F., Mansoori, A., Sarkaki, A.R., Jalali, M.T., Latifi, S.M. (2008, Dec.). Apple cider vinegar attenuates lipid profile in normal and diabetic rats. Pakistan Journal of Biological Sciences. 11(23):2634-8.
6 Kondo, S., Tayama, K., Tsukamoto, Y., Ikeda, K., Yamori, Y. (2001, Dec.). Antihypertensive effects of acetic acid and vinegar on spontaneously hypertensive rats. Bioscience, Biotechnology and Biochemistry. 65(12):2690-4.
7 Yagnik, D., Serafin, V., Shah, A.J. (2018). Antimicrobial activity of apple cider vinegar against Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus and Candida albicans; downregulating cytokine and microbial protein expression. Scientific Reports. 8:1732.
8 Yeh, Z. (2015). Is Apple Cider Vinegar Effective for Reducing Heartburn Symptoms Related to Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease? Arizona State University. Retrieved from: repository.asu.edu
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