Many “myths” spread easily about the health properties of various food products. It’s hard to decipher what is truth and what is fable. Take Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV), as an example. Many health benefits are attributed to this simple food product, but are any of these claims factual?
Let’s first start by understanding that ACV is not the same as any other type of vinegar. It is not white vinegar (primarily used for cleaning) or balsamic vinegar (great in recipes). In fact, this article is referring only to the ACV that is raw, unprocessed, and unfiltered with the cloudy “mother” at the bottom. This type of ACV is said to be helpful for a variety of conditions. So, let’s consider a few of the truths or myths surrounding Apple Cider Vinegar.
ACV Helps Burn Fat.
Myth. When it comes to “burning” fat, studies do not yet show that AVC will “burn” fat.
There is truth, though, that AVC may “assist” a weight-loss program.
As evidence, in 2005 researchers published trial results in “European Journal of Clinical Nutrition” showing that the acetic acid in ACV delayed the digestion of carbohydrate meals in the people tested, and increased the feeling of satiety longer than the second group tested who did not consume the vinegar – thus lessening the appetite. 1
At the same time, these researchers published in the “Journal of American Diet Association”, Dec 2005,2 their findings that ACV suppressed the after-meal blood sugar spikes, which throw off the glucose balance and leave cravings for dessert. Fortunately, without the craving people are less likely to surrender to a nightly bowl of ice cream.
(Conclusion: ACV with a carbohydrate meal may increase the “full” feeling after a meal, and lengthen the time before the appetite and “hungry” feeling returns. ACV was shown, also, to balance glucose levels after meals, resulting in less cravings for dessert, or other empty calorie foods, and allowing for more progress in weight management programs.)
ACV Balances Blood Sugar Levels.
Truth. Though this seems far fetched, studies have shown evidence that AVC can be helpful in balancing blood sugar levels.
Similar to the studies in the previous section, a clinical trial was conducted by Carol S. Johnston, PHD, and her associates, at Arizona State University, Department of Nutrition, and published in the American Diabetes Association, January 2004 issue of “Diabetes Care”. The study tested the effect of vinegar on insulin sensitivity in non-diabetic insulin sensitive and insulin resistant subjects, along with a group of Type 2 Diabetes subjects. None were taking diabetes medications.
All in the test group were fasting prior to the test. The scientists randomly chose subjects that would be given a mixture of vinegar and water two minutes prior to consuming a simple carb diet for breakfast. The levels of insulin sensitivity were measured during the hour after they had finished breakfast. These scientists found the glycemic response for those taking the ACV was significantly lower than the group who were not given the vinegar.3
Another study was conducted in 2013, again at ASU College of Health Solutions. This specifically tested the Braggs Brand of Apple Cider Vinegar, and demonstrated a positive influence on glucose levels. 4
(Conclusion: ACV may improve the balance of insulin when under the given test conditions and carbohydrate meals.)
ACV Benefits Cholesterol Balance.
Truth. If you consider that rat testing may translate to similar results for humans, Apple Cider Vinegar may have a positive effect on balancing cholesterol levels.
In May 2006, a study published in the “British Journal of Nutrition” showed an improvement in lowering bad cholesterol in rats.5 The improvement also revealed a marked reduction of fat in the liver and improvement in glucose tolerance.
In August 2014, the “Journal of Membrane Biology” reported on a study testing ACV on cholesterol levels, revealing a positive result of ACV lowering serum lipid levels in mice fed a high cholesterol diet.6
(Conclusion: ACV may improve LDL cholesterol levels and glucose tolerance, while reducing serum lipid levels and fat in the liver.)
Blood Pressure Can Improve With ACV.
Myth and Truth. Or, in other words… it depends.
There are certain circumstances where consuming Apple Cider Vinegar can lower high blood pressure. However, those who have high blood pressure due to organ problems or certain diseases will not have the same level of results.
Per usual, ACV must be taken correctly and consistently. For the majority of people, ACV may help improve blood pressure when taken daily and combined with healthy eating and exercise (a common caveat).
Again, assuming that an animal study may translate to the same results for humans, a clinical trial published in the December 2001 of “Bioscience BioTechnol Biochem” tested rats by giving them a long-term administration of vinegar or acetic acid (a major component of vinegar). They found that the acetic acid in the vinegar may be what is responsible for lowering the blood pressure.7
(Conclusion: The acetic acid, as a naturally-occurring part of the ACV, may help lower blood pressure when taken as part of a daily regimen, aligned with appropriate eating and exercise habits.)
In reviewing these studies, in certain conditions there is truth to some claims that Apple Cider Vinegar may be helpful in assisting health goals.
A point to note is that if you are considering adding ACV to your own daily health routine, it must be diluted. For those who chug it straight followed by a glass of water, they are risking damage to the esophagus and tooth enamel. So, please dilute the vinegar prior to swallowing. If the tartness is difficult to tolerate, add organic, raw, unfiltered honey (which has a multitude of health properties of its own) or organic maple syrup to sweeten the taste. Completely avoid any artificial sweetener, which will undermine any health goals you may have.
As a final recommendation, it is best to start with small amounts of ACV. Perhaps try 1/2 teaspoon in a cup of water for one meal, and then over the next few days increase the frequency to all three daily meals. After you are comfortable with the amount, increase the quantity to 1 teaspoon – continuing to increase every few days until you have reached appoximately 1 to 2 tablespoons (remember to “dilute”). Be sure to gently shake the liquid in the bottle prior to pouring so you can blend the “mother” throughout, and enjoy the healthful enzymes and minerals with each dose.
Vinegar supplementation lowers glucose and insulin responses and increases satiety after a bread meal in healthy subjects.
Ostman E1, Granfeldt Y, Persson L, Björck I.
2) J Am Diet Assoc. 2005 Dec;105(12):1939-42.
Vinegar and peanut products as complementary foods to reduce postprandial glycemia.
Johnston CS1, Buller AJ.
3) ADA Diabetes Care, Vinegar Improves Insulin Sensitivity to a High-Carbohydrate Meal in Subjects With Insulin Resistance or Type 2 Diabetes
Carol S. Johnston, PHD, Cindy M. Kim, MS and Amanda J. Buller, MS
4) ASU College of Health Solutions, THEREPUTIC EFFECT OF DAILY VINEGAR INGESTION FOR INDIVIDUALS AT RISK FOR TYPE 2 DIABETES
Carol S. Johnston, Samantha Quagliano, and Serena Whit
School of Nutrition and Health Promotion, Arizona State University, Phoenix AZ
5) Br J Nutr. 2006 May;95(5):916-24.
Dietary acetic acid reduces serum cholesterol and triacylglycerols in rats fed a cholesterol-rich diet.
Fushimi T1, Suruga K, Oshima Y, Fukiharu M, Tsukamoto Y, Goda T.
6) Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2007 May;71(5):1236-43. Epub 2007 May 7.
Improvement of obesity and glucose tolerance by acetate in Type 2 diabetic Otsuka Long-Evans Tokushima Fatty (OLETF) rats.
Yamashita H1, Fujisawa K, Ito E, Idei S, Kawaguchi N, Kimoto M, Hiemori M, Tsuji H.
7) Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2001 Dec;65(12):2690-4.
Antihypertensive effects of acetic acid and vinegar on spontaneously hypertensive rats.
Kondo S1, Tayama K, Tsukamoto Y, Ikeda K, Yamori Y.