What would you say if there was a cheap, easily available kitchen item right in your closet that could improve your blood sugars and unhealthy cholesterol, and promote weight loss? It sounds too good to be true, but it’s probably the best kept secret that’s really worth sharing. The magical liquid is apple cider vinegar – made from fermented crushed apples.
What’s The Good Stuff in Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar’s health benefit is mostly from the fermentation that yields 5-20% acetic acid, water and some B vitamins, vitamin C and minerals. There are fast or slow methods of fermentation but both are healthy. It’s the bacteria, either naturally grown over time or added for the quick method, that ferments the cider or apple must. The vinegar is pasteurized prior to bottling to kill any harmful bacteria.
Apple Cider Vinegar and Antiglycemic Benefits
An NIH review of studies on the health benefits of apple cider vinegar are very promising. One study looked at the effects of consuming vinegar on two groups, one with insulin resistance (prediabetes) and one with type 2 diabetes. Each group drank 20 g of vinegar (4 tsp) in 40 g of water with 1 tsp of saccharin prior to consuming a meal consisting of 87 g of carbohydrates. The insulin resistant group’s blood sugars after eating were reduced by as much as 60%. There was less antiglycemic response in the group with type 2 diabetes, but insulin sensitivity after the meal was improved. Based on this study, it’s possible that people with prediabetes could really benefit from regular consumption of apple cider vinegar. Even the Diabetes Self Management magazine supports the regular use of apple cider vinegar and you can read reviews on the use of vinegar from readers of WebMD.
Apple Cider Vinegar and Cholesterol
There is a some evidence that apple cider vinegar can improve cholesterol. A Life Science Journal study showed that vinegar lowered the unhealthy LDL cholesterol and raised the heart healthy HDL cholesterol. And the BBC conducted their own study on 30 volunteers. They divided them into 3 groups: one drinking a malt vinegar drink, one an apple cider vinegar drink and the last a placebo before eating a large bagel. they did see a big difference in post-meal blood sugars in the apple cider vinegar group and were pleasantly surprised to see a drop in cholesterol as well:
“those consuming cider vinegar saw an average 13% reduction in total cholesterol, with a strikingly large reduction in triglycerides (a form of fat). And this was a particularly impressive finding because our volunteers were all healthy at the start, with normal cholesterol levels.”
Apple Cider Vinegar and Weight Loss
In a study that WebMD cites, 175 obese people consumed either vinegar or water and ate a similar diet for 3 months. The vinegar group lost about 2 pounds, while the water group lost none. Obviously, that’s not an outstanding weight loss, but I do wonder if it might be more effective in those with prediabetes since they are insulin resistant. Vinegar can interfere with starch absorption. If fewer carbohydrates are absorbed, than less insulin would be released from the pancreas. Insulin is a fat storage hormone; if less is circulating in the blood stream, then fewer excess calories will be stored in fat cells. I’m just curious about that possibility.
Warnings About Apple Cider Vinegar
Regular use of apple cider vinegar is not recommended for those with kidney disease because it may affect calcium absorption and could possibly have a detrimental effect on blood pressure. Due to its acidic pH, it is also not recommended for anyone with gastrointestinal ulcers. Personally, I would use caution if you have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or a history of gastritis too. It can also damage teeth enamel, so it should be diluted in a cup of water and consumed fairly quickly to decrease dental exposure.
How To Consume Vinegar
There are at least 10 other benefits to making vinegar part of your life – from using it topically to help with fungal infections to even helping with foot odor. But finding enjoyment out of downing that glass of sour liquid can be challenging. Here are some suggestions:
- Switch to a lower calorie and healthier salad dressing by mixing 1 part vinegar to one part olive oil and add garlic and onion powder and a bit of salt.
- Mix 1 cup of water with 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar and 1 tsp honey.
- Mix 1/2 cup grapefruit juice with 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar.
There certainly is a lot of evidence on the benefits of drinking apple cider vinegar. It’s cheap, it’s tolerable in the recommended dose and there are few downsides. It’s surprising that more research hasn’t been done on the benefits, but I bet big pharma would not be too happy if their sales of Metformin and Lipitor declined. After all, we wouldn’t want nature’s medicine to “sour” big pharma’s profits would we?