Health Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar

These are the days when one would go online to search for nutritional remedies for every condition imaginable and find every solution imaginable. But long before Google provided instant suggestions on what to eat for better health and performance, apple cider vinegar (ACV) was a top word-of-mouth remedy.

The promises are enthusiastic: better blood sugar control, improved heart and immune health, reduced cancer risk, and weight loss (if that’s your goal), to name a few.

So you’re probably wondering what the science has to say. Can Apple Cider Vinegar Really Help Us Stay Healthy Longer? Here’s the truth about whether acid has power.

What exactly is apple cider vinegar?

While vinegar can be gleaned from a variety of raw materials including grapes and rice, apple cider vinegar is produced by pulverizing apples into a slurry of juice and pulp which is then left to ferment in the presence of bacteria and yeasts. This converts the sugar in the fruit largely into acetic acid (among other things) and produces various aromatic compounds, which gives the vinegar its strong sour smell and pungent flavor.

What are the health benefits of apple cider vinegar?

Although it is believed to cure a long list of ailments, some purported health benefits may be true.

Above all, the high levels of acetic acid in apple cider vinegar may help control blood sugar and improve certain blood lipids, according to a 2021 systematic review and meta-analysis in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Acetic acid has also been found to lower blood triglyceride concentrations in overweight or obese people and in people with type 2 diabetes, which may promote better heart health. In addition, another review study in the journal BMC Medicine and Complementary Therapies found enough evidence to suggest that apple cider vinegar used for more than two months may improve blood sugar management and blood cholesterol levels.

A survey in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that when people consumed white bread with vinegar, there was a lower blood sugar and insulin response, as well as improved satiety rates, than when they consumed the same amount of bread without vinegar. The higher the acetic acid content of the vinegar, the greater the impact.

Although we often think of improved blood sugar control as something only important for people with diabetes, Molly Kimball, RD, registered dietitian at Ochsner Health in New Orleans, says The runner’s world it’s beneficial for everyone, including runners. “Maintaining consistent blood sugar levels, i.e. avoiding peaks and troughs, as much as possible is key to optimizing energy, mood and fighting cravings, to name a few. “

The slower release of blood sugar in the blood with the use of apple cider vinegar and the subsequent increase in hunger-reducing hormones could lead to feelings of fullness and, therefore, potential weight loss over time. time.

Apple cider vinegar may improve blood sugar, which Kimball says is more likely to happen when paired with carbohydrate-rich foods because it reduces the activity of an enzyme that breaks down starch and increases glucose uptake in tissues, including skeletal muscle. improve insulin sensitivity and blood circulation.

But keep in mind that we don’t know what the impact is on people without insulin sensitivity or blood sugar control, including healthy runners. Additionally, a noticeable improvement in blood sugar can only occur when apple cider vinegar is added to meals containing high glycemic index foods and beverages like white bread, juice, potatoes, and soft drinks. white pasta.

Kimball adds that it’s also unclear how the metabolic effects of apple cider vinegar vary from any other type of vinegar. Although most of the research has been done on apple cider vinegar, the blood sugar benefits may not differ much between different varieties of vinegar like balsamic and white wine because they also contain acetic acid. .

Since apple cider vinegar is a fermented food product, Kimball says it could, in theory, provide probiotics to improve our microbiome, which is the population of microbes in our digestive tract that appear to play an important role in overall health. After analyzing blood and stool samples from healthy adult participants, Stanford School of Medicine researchers found that a 10-week diet high in fermented foods (6 servings a day) led to measurable improvements in diversity of the microbiome and a decrease in markers of inflammation.

“However, since we typically consume such small volumes, it seems unlikely that apple cider vinegar is a significant source of probiotics in our diet compared to other fermented foods,” Kimball says. “Instead, I would watch it as every little gesture helps.” To date, there are no studies looking specifically at the impact of apple cider vinegar on the microbiome.

It is likely that apple cider vinegar contains small amounts of the various phytochemicals found in the apples from which it is produced. These phytochemicals could give vinegar antioxidant activity to help reduce cell damage in the body that may offer protection against various conditions like cognitive decline.

“But, the amount of antioxidants you’d get from typical servings of apple cider vinegar is likely much lower than you’d get from whole apples and other fruits,” Kimball says. “I wouldn’t count on it to give us a significant impact in terms of antioxidant benefits.”

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Here’s how to add apple cider vinegar to your diet

The easiest way to incorporate apple cider vinegar into your diet is to use it in salad dressings. You can also mix it into cooked grains and use it in homemade sauces and condiments for a bit of vinegary flavor. Pickled vegetables can also be another source of acetic acid in your diet.

Some people will dilute apple cider vinegar in water and drink it before meals, which may improve blood sugar levels after meals. “I generally recommend diluting 1 ounce [of ACV] in about 4 ounces of water, herbal tea, or other types of sugar-free drinks,” says Kimball. However, she warns that it is essential to properly dilute the vinegar – due to its acidic nature, it can damage the gastrointestinal tract and tooth enamel.

Ideally, you want to use an unfiltered apple cider vinegar that contains a cobweb-like floating substance called “mother” and is amber in color with a cloudy appearance. Bragg is one of the more popular branded options. Most commercial apple cider vinegar takes shortcuts from the longer fermentation process so it doesn’t have the same flavor or probiotic undertones.

You can also find apple cider vinegar in capsules and gummies, but it’s not known if they’re as helpful and there may be quality control issues.

The main thing is…

While the research is promising, particularly when it comes to managing blood sugar when eating your high-carb meals, the quality of evidence surrounding the benefits of apple cider vinegar isn’t there yet, and we don’t know. not yet whether it’s better for you than other varieties of vinegar. At the very least, it can make veggies more exciting, so you’ll want to eat more of them, which is definitely something to celebrate.

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