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Health Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar
Health Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar
If you believe everything you read about apple cider vinegar, it can cure the gamut of conditions, ranging from acne to diabetes to dandruff, and make you drop 10 pounds in two weeks. As a discerning, health-savvy individual, however, you know full well that no one substance can fix all that ails you. But even though apple cider vinegar is no magic tonic, don’t dismiss it just yet. This multipurpose liquid offers ample nutrients and several legitimate health benefits, and its versatility makes it easy to incorporate into your diet and daily life.
Apple cider vinegar is simply the fermented juice of mashed apples, meaning yeast and bacteria have broken the liquid down first into alcohol and then into vinegar. This process makes apple cider vinegar fairly unappetizing to drink straight, but fermentation doesn’t strip away the apples’ nutrients. Therefore, apple cider vinegar is a vitamin and mineral smorgasbord. “It contains folic acid, niacin, biotin and vitamins B1, B2, B6 and C, along with phosphorus, potassium, calcium, iron and magnesium,” says Heather Mangieri, RD, spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. She adds that apple cider vinegar is also packed with acetic and citric acids, which make it a great flavor-balancing ingredient for many kinds of cuisine. Because of its nutrient makeup and acid content, apple cider vinegar may be a boon to health, both when diluted with water and sipped and when added to foods (mixed into a salad dressing or drizzled onto grilled vegetables, for example).
One of apple cider vinegar’s most talked-about—and trumped up—benefits is its potential to help shed pounds. This is tricky turf, though, because scientists have yet to establish a concrete link between weight loss and apple cider vinegar specifically. Most research to date has examined the effects of unspecified vinegar types or acetic acid from unnamed sources.
That said, a few preliminary studies point to apple cider vinegar’s weight-loss-promoting potential. Research published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry in June 2009 found that acetic acid from vinegar suppressed accumulation of body fat and liver lipids in mice fed high-fat diets. Another study, published in Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry in August 2009, looked at acetic acid’s effects on obese humans. Researchers found that, after 12 weeks of drinking a beverage containing 30 mL or 15 mL of vinegar or none at all, both vinegar groups had lower body weight, body mass index, waist circumference and serum triglyceride levels than the control group. Again, these studies show promise for apple cider vinegar’s weight-loss results, but putting a definitive stamp on it today would require too many leaps.
Still, many people claim to have dropped pants sizes thanks to apple cider vinegar. Mangieri offers a likely explanation as to why: “The often-touted weight-loss effects of apple cider vinegar have to do with its reported ability to curb appetite,” she says. “It’s not confirmed, but some studies have found that vinegar increases satiety, which could lead to eating less food and ultimately to weight loss. Anyone losing weight with apple cider vinegar is likely doing so because they’re eating fewer calories, not because they’re ingesting vinegar.”
Blood sugar benefits
Apple cider vinegar may also help with glucose control and diabetes management, and the science surrounding this is significantly more solid. “Preliminary clinical research shows that taking vinegar with a meal reduces [post-meal] glucose levels and insulin response in healthy people,” Mangieri says. “In patients with insulin resistance, taking 30 grams of apple cider vinegar with a meal increased insulin sensitivity and reduced insulin flux following a meal. And then in a study of subjects with type 2 diabetes, 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar before bed lowered morning blood sugar levels 4 percent to 6 percent. When the vinegar was consumed with a meal, it also kept blood sugar levels lower.”
Despite its many positive attributes, apple cider vinegar carries a few potentially negative effects as well. If drunken straight, it not only tastes bad but also can damage tooth enamel, irritate the esophagus and play a hand in depleting potassium levels, Mangieri says. “Before swallowing vinegar for medicinal purposes, be sure to check with your registered dietitian or doctor,” she advises.
By: Melaina Juntti
Melaina is a freelance writer and editor in Madison, Wis., who focuses on natural health and wellness. Her work has appeared in Men's Journal, Delicious Living, Natural Foods Merchandiser, Natural Solutions, Inside Triathlon and Triathlete magazines.
October 11th, 2012