A Dietitian Nutritionist Explains the Real Health Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar

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If an apple a day keeps the doctor away, can a glass of apple cider vinegar supercharge your attempts to become stronger and healthier?

Many people believe the answer is “yes.” In fact, a segment of the population consumes apple cider vinegar regularly – even daily – in the belief that the liquid contains powers that protect your health.

Following are some of the claims made on behalf of apple cider vinegar – and a look at what science says.

Health Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar Represented by Red Apples and Small Filled Carafe on Rustic Wooden Table | Vitacost Blog

Possible Health Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar

Blood sugar levels

Of all the medical claims made for apple cider vinegar, the notion that it can keep your blood sugar levels in check is probably the best supported, says Jenna Gorham, a registered dietitian nutritionist and founder of Jenna Gorham Nutrition Consulting.  

In fact, several studies have found that combining any type of vinegar with starchy foods can lower blood sugar levels in people with Type-2 diabetes.

“The vinegar seems to work by blocking the absorption of the starch,” Gorham says.

Still, she says more research is needed before anyone can definitively claim that apple cider vinegar can help keep blood sugar levels in check.

And the news is not all good. Some research indicates that adding vinegar to the diet negatively impacts blood sugar control in Type-1 diabetics.

Weight loss

Millions of Americans dream of a magic pill that will help them slim down. Such a quick fix continues to elude science, so some dieters have turned instead to apple cider vinegar as a weight loss elixir.

And evidence suggests they might be on to a good thing. A 2009 study out of Japan compared obese people who consumed vinegar with those who did not. Researchers found that “body weight, BMI (body mass index), visceral fat area, waist circumference, and serum triglyceride levels were significantly lower,” in those who consumed vinegar.

A 2012 Dutch study also found a link between consuming apple cider vinegar and weight loss. However, many experts remain skeptical that vinegar can help you shed pounds.

Heart health

Several studies have hinted that consuming vinegar can improve your health in heart-friendly ways. Research indicates that vinegar might lower blood pressure, triglyceride levels and total cholesterol.

However, there is a major caveat to these findings: Thus far, all these results have come from testing laboratory rodents. No human studies have yet been performed.

So, the jury remains out on whether apple cider vinegar is truly “heart smart.”

Teeth whitening

Some people swear that apple cider vinegar whitens their teeth. But Gorham says this is probably the least plausible way to use vinegar to improve your health.

“Apple cider vinegar is an acid,” Gorham says. “Putting acid on your teeth will wear away at the enamel.”

In fact, the pH level of apple cider vinegar is roughly equivalent to what you find in soda. And we all know what too much Coke can do to our teeth.

Adding apple cider vinegar to your diet

There are many ways to add apple cider vinegar to your diet. “I would recommend including it in salad dressings, marinades, sauces (and) baked goods,” Gorham says.

If you take medications and plan to add large amounts of apple cider vinegar to your diet, it might be wise to consult a physician. Gorham says the vinegar can adversely interact with some drugs and blunt their effectiveness.

If you intend to drink apple cider vinegar, Gorham recommends diluting it in a glass of water. Doing so will reduce the pH level of the vinegar.

These statements have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease.