I was at a party recently where a woman was talking about how her 2 tablespoons per day of Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) helped her lose weight and that it has so many powerful health benefits people are not aware of.
Being a health professional, I kept my mouth shut and decided to dig into the research.
There are all kinds of claims on the internet of ACV’s role in increasing energy levels, losing weight, improving blood sugar, improving cholesterol and improving blood pressure.
But what is the truth about Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)?
Are these health claims substantiated?
Let’s take a closer look!
What is Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)?
A good place to start is to look at how ACV is made and its nutritional make-up. Apple Cider Vinegar is produced from taking apples and putting them through a process of crushing, distilling, and finally fermenting them.
Most vinegars are filtered and pasteurized, but some manufacturers leave the harmless bacteria—also called “the mother”—and label the vinegar as “raw” and “unfiltered.” This is particularly common with apple cider vinegar.
One tablespoon of apple cider vinegar’s nutritional value has:
- 0.03 mg of iron (your iron supplement will have 30mg – 1000x this)
- 11 mg of potassium (a banana has 100mg – 10x this)
- 1 mg of sodium
- less than 0.01mg of other minerals like Zinc, Copper, or Manganese
- no other vitamins
From my research, it seems most of the claims about the health benefits of vinegar either haven’t been tested enough or there aren’t large enough research studies to stand behind the claims we are reading about.
Here’s what I discovered:
ACV and Blood Sugar
ACV and High Blood Pressure
One study looked at rats being fed a diet containing acetic acid compared to those that did not. Those that were eating high acetic acid had a decrease in their systolic (top number) blood pressure.
No studies have been performed on people.The bottom line, high blood pressure has not been shown to be improved by using ACV. Instead focus on reducing sodium, eating a healthy diet, exercising and getting to or maintaining a healthy weight.
ACV and Cancer
ACV and Weight Loss
ACV and Lowering Cholesterol
There have been approximately twelve small studies where people were given a starchy meal, one group took two tablespoons of ACV and the other group did not.
Some of the studies showed lower blood sugar hours after the meal in those that took the vinegar, but other studies did not show this.
There were also two longer studies that included people with prediabetes, and it was found that blood sugars were not significantly lower in those who consumed two tablespoons of vinegar a day when compared to those who got the placebo.
A few studies have shown that vinegar may have anti-cancer properties, however, these studies involved culturing cancer cells and exposing them directly to vinegar or acetic acid.
There was one large population study from China that found lower rates of esophageal cancer in people who frequently consumed vinegar. It’s worth noting that the people in the study were likely consuming rice vinegar, not ACV.
The scientific evidence that vinegar consumption either ACV or other types of vinegar is a reliable, long-term means of losing excess weight is not compelling.
There have been some studies performed, but all-n-all, the studies have been short in duration, the results have been slight and adding or subtracting single foods or ingredients in our diets typically doesn’t have a huge effect on weight.
Studies seem to suggest that vinegar can increase feelings of fullness and help people eat fewer calories, which may then lead to weight loss.
Some studies on animals were performed that suggest ACV can lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels. But no studies have been performed on humans.
There are a lot of big claims about the health benefits of ACV on the internet. Unfortunately, many of these claims are not supported by science.
One author wisely pointed out, however, that the absence of proof isn’t proof that something isn’t happening, and anecdotes often end up becoming supported by science down the line.
At the very least, apple cider vinegar seems to be safe as long as you don’t go overboard and take excessive amounts if you want to experiment with it.