I’ve been asked by multiple people lately my thoughts on apple cider vinegar – will it help me lose weight? Is it good for me? Do you drink it before meals? I tend to question food fads because no one food is a quick fix for all our ailments. I did a little research and here is what I found.
Apple cider vinegar has been used for centuries dating back to the days of Hippocrates and Cleopatra. Back then they used it to treat infections, wounds, and dissolve rocks and minerals. However, as our culture and technology have advanced, most doctors and experts agree that other cleaning agents and wound treatments are safer and more effective at preventing disease and infection.
In regards to the various claims, here is what I think:
One of the biggest purported claims is that drinking a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar before meals will aid in weight loss.
The largest and most cited study involved 175 Japanese, overweight, but otherwise healthy subjects. Over 12 weeks, the subjects drank a beverage with either 1 or 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar. After 12-weeks, they lost an average of 3 pounds. Checking in with the subjects 4 weeks post-study, they had gained it back.
Like any diet, drinking apple cider vinegar for weight loss is not a sustainable weight loss method. The study showed that the subjects who drank apple cider vinegar lost some weight very slowly. If you are very patient and don’t mind drinking vinegar everyday for months this may be a great option for you. If you’re looking for either quicker or more sustainable weight loss, I’d suggest taking a look at your diet as a whole or working with a registered dietitian.
Blood Sugar Control
This claim seems to have the most research to support it. Multiple studies have shown that combining vinegar (any type) when eating a starch can lower blood sugar in diabetics. The vinegar seems to work by blocking the absorption of the starch.
Yes, some studies do support this, however, this does not mean that apple cider vinegar can reverse diabetes. If you are taking any medication please consult your doctor as vinegar may interact.
Most of these studies have been conducted in rats (note: rats are not people) and have shown mixed results. One study showed a relationship between apple cider vinegar consumption and raised HDL (good cholesterol) and lowered LDL (bad cholesterol), while another showed the opposite.
If you have high cholesterol, try emphasizing more plants in your diet or work with a registered dietitian for customized recommendations. It seems as though the research is not quite there yet, and I would not rely on this one ‘miracle’ food.
Arthritis and Inflammation
There appears to be just anecdotal reports of people claiming to feel better and having less pain from arthritis when drinking apple cider vinegar. Unfortunately, there are not currently any scientific reports supporting this claim. One very small study (30 participants) did measure C-reactive protein (a marker of inflammation) before and after apple cider vinegar consumption and did not find remarkable results.
My Thoughts: I have a hard time giving recommendations based on purely anecdotal evidence. If you think it works for you, I think that’s just great.
Apple cider vinegar is an acid. Putting acid on your teeth will wear away at the enamel and protective layer, leaving them prone to cavities.
My thoughts: Not a good idea.
Overall, there has not been a significant amount of research done on the effectiveness of apple cider vinegar. Although some studies do suggest promising effects, many should be taken with a grain of salt. Many studies were small sample sizes or even done on rats. The good news is that there is not a huge risk factor of consuming a spoonful of apple cider vinegar, it even contains small amounts of vitamins and minerals (vitamin C, folate, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, and B vitamins). If you do choose to include apple cider vinegar in your diet I would recommend either including it in salad dressings, marinades, sauces, or baked goods, or dilute it in a glass of water – remember it is an acid and it may burn (and tasty pretty nasty) if you drink it by the spoonful.