By Massa Bitar, MS. RD.
This article explores the most praised health claims for this all-natural product, Apple Cider Vinegar, and the science behind them.
Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) is claimed to be a wonder food providing all sorts of health benefits, skin care, cleaning and disinfection.
Potent Biological Effects
ACV is very low in calories (3 kcal/tbsp) with only a few nutrients: potassium, amino acids and antioxidants.
To make ACV, yeast is added to apples producing acetic acid, which increases the absorption of important minerals (e.g. iron and calcium). Thus, adding vinegar to nutritious salads makes them even more nutritious.
High quality vinegar should have a slimy film called mother of vinegar. Probiotics and other beneficial bacteria within it support immune functions, and can aid constipation. Most vinegar companies filter this film, so look for unfiltered versions, and if made from organic apple it’s even better.
ACV is well-known as a powerful antibacterial. It helps kill pathogens and can be applied topically for cleaning and disinfecting. It also has been proven as an effective food preservative.
Improve Heart Health
One study showed that women who eat vinegar-based salad dressings have lower risk for heart disease. Other studies, conducted on animals, have shown that consuming ACV can lower blood pressure, triglycerides and bad cholesterol-LDL, and increase good cholesterol-HDL.
This is by far the most studied area. Vinegar seems to inactivate some of the carbohydrate digesting enzymes, slowing down sugar absortion and preventing blood sugars from rising to high levels.
A study published in Diabetes Care Journal found that consuming ACV improves insulin sensitivity and reduces blood levels of insulin. Also, taken at bedtime, it slighty reduces morning fasting blood sugar levels.
More studies are still needed, but for now if you are on blood glucose lowering medications, consult your doctor before increasing your ACV doses.
Weight Loss Aid?
Another study showed that people who take ACV tend to consume 200-275 less calories for the rest of the day. In fact, ACV has many mechanisms that were associated with promoting satiety and favoring weight loss:
- It inhibits carbohydrate digestion, leading to slower rise in sugar.
- It slows down gastric emptying, helping in feeling full for longer.
- It contains the great appetite suppressing fiber: pectin.
- Acids in ACV are precursors for important fat breakdown hormones such as growth hormone.
Despite the limited research, adding 1-2 tablespoons of diluted/unfiltered ACV to your daily diet would be very beneficial, especially for controlling blood sugar and body weight.
Nevertheless, adding one sole ingredient to your diet cannot replace a healthy lifestyle and portion control. Also, do not start any course of ACV if you are under the care of a physician.
Finally, do not drink ACV straight; its acidity is very harmful to your tooth enamel and esophagus.