Apple cider vinegar has been used for centuries for a variety of ailments and practical purposes, including as an antibacterial, weight-loss agent, blood “purifier” and even breathe freshener.
While some will doubt the effectiveness of vinegar, there have been numerous researchers around the world interested in putting the theories to a test. Here we review some of the scientifically-backed health benefits of apple cider vinegar, so you can determine for yourself whether it is right for you.
Weight loss is one of the most sought-after benefits of apple cider vinegar. Beyond looking and feeling better, achieving a healthy weight is important for your health; obesity is associated with an increased risk of a number of chronic diseases. This is why there is such a significant interest in how certain foods can aid in weight loss.
While there were a number of anecdotal experiences of how consuming vinegar helped people lose weight, it wasn’t until a study published in 2009 by Japanese presented evidence of how vinegar intake affected body weight, BMI, visceral fat, waist circumference, and serum triglyceride levels, as compared to those who didn’t consume any vinegar. It was found that all measures were lower in people who had consumed 15ml or 30ml of vinegar daily for 12 weeks.
The results of another study published in 2016 echoed these results. They had two groups consume a high fat diet, and one of those groups consumed a certain amount of apple cider vinegar for 30 days. They found that those who consumed apple cider vinegar daily significantly decreased body weight and food intake, due to the satiating effects of apple cider vinegar.
Vinegar contains a component called acetic acid, which researchers have found significantly reduced blood pressure in laboratory studies. It is considered that it can have the same effect on those who consume it daily over the long term. While the acetic acid itself is what seems to have the effect on blood pressure, consuming vinegar itself is also effective for most people.
High blood lipids, including cholesterol and triglycerides, are associated with heart disease. While some studies are contradictory, apple cider vinegar has shown to reduce cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood when consumed regularly. One study demonstrates that it likely has to do with the antioxidant effects of vinegar, preventing lipid peroxidation. In addition to reducing blood lipids, in this study, it was also shown to have a protective effect on the liver and the kidney.
While most studies have only been conducted in the lab, another study also confirms that apple cider vinegar, or any dietary vinegar, can, in fact, reduce cholesterol and triglycerides as a result of the acetic acid vinegar contain.
Consuming apple cider vinegar over several weeks could be a cost-effective treatment for high blood lipids, and thus for helping to protect your heart. It may also be beneficial to use together with medical treatment for high blood lipids to increase effectiveness.
The glycemic load, or how high your blood sugar goes after a meal, is associated with a greater risk for chronic diseases like diabetes. Acetic acid found in apple cider vinegar and other vinegars may also help to control blood sugar, which is important for people who have been diagnosed with pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes.
To test the effectivity of vinegar on blood sugar (blood glucose) researchers in Sweden tested the effects of the administration of vinegar at different concentrations after consuming a piece of white bread.
They found that there was a significant positive effect on blood glucose 30 minutes after having eaten the bread with the vinegar. They also found that those who had vinegar at greater concentrations of acetic acid also reported a greater feeling of fullness.
Similar results were found in another study.
Interestingly enough, while the effects on blood glucose have only recently been studied in the laboratory, their positive effects of vinegar on illnesses that likely had to do with blood glucose levels were reported and recorded as early as the 18th century.
10th-century healers in China describe hand-washing with vinegar as a way of “cleaning” hands and avoiding infection during autopsies. While this might seem out of place in the 21st century, we now know that this practice was likely effective due to vinegar’s antiseptic properties. This is also due to acetic acid, the active component in vinegar.
Studies show that the power of acetic acid is such that it can kill even resistant strains of some mycobacteria, like those that cause tuberculosis. Vinegar, as opposed to other laboratory treatments, are is relatively non-toxic, inexpensive, and widely available. It is even suggested for use to disinfect surfaces that might have been exposed to tuberculosis, or as a disinfecting agent for fruits and vegetables, as an inexpensive and effective disinfecting alternative.
Vinegar contains components called polyphenols, which are potent antioxidants, as well as antioxidant vitamins. Recent studies show that foods with antioxidant compounds may reduce incidences of degenerative illnesses like aging, cancer, and brain disorders. This may mean that the antioxidants and nutrients found in vinegar, including apple cider vinegar, could provide antioxidants that help fight disease.
Polyphenols have been shown to affect cancer growth, due to their antioxidant activity, but also due to their ability to interact with cell mechanism that may promote tumor promotion.
While many skeptics may wonder about the health potential of apple cider vinegar, initial studies, in addition to centuries of anecdotal evidence and holistic health practices, show that apple cider vinegar has plenty of potentials to help prevent illness and promote overall health. One of the downsides of consuming vinegar it is its pure form is that it can cause irritation to the throat and lungs, precisely because of the strength of the acetic acid. One of the ways to get around this is to consume apple cider vinegar in pill form, thus taking advantage of the health benefits while skipping out on the strong taste and unpleasant smell.