Is apple cider vinegar really all that it’s cracked up to be? In recent years, wellness sites, food bloggers, and health gurus alike swear by the stuff with claims like clear skin, weight loss, and improved digestion. But are these health claims valid, or is it just natural nonsense? To see for ourselves, we’ve done a bit of research into the scientifically backed apple cider vinegar (ACV) world. Here are our results.
First, what is it?
Apple cider vinegar – like any vinegar – is a product of fermentation. It’s basically made by mixing pulverized apples with yeast and allowing it to ferment. Like other vinegar, ACV has supposedly been around for thousands of years – not just in recent decades when it surged in popularity. Apparently, recorded apple cider vinegar history began around 5000 BC in Babylonia. Since then, various civilizations have used it for different reasons, such as in ancient Greece for wounds. Today, health and wellness advocates swear by its many health benefits.
So what can it do?
After scouring Google Scholar for scientifically backed claims, here are my findings. These are the most common reports from peer-reviewed sources, each with their respective studies. Read on to see.
Helps with weight loss. Vinegar has been used for weight loss for thousands of years, and ACV is no different. A 2016 study on rats found that ACV led to less food consumption because of its satiating effect. AKA it makes you feel less hungry. If you’re trying to lose weight, apple cider vinegar can likely help, but ONLY in small amounts. Do not consume more than 1 or 2 tablespoons of ACV per day and be sure to mix it with water – consuming too much at one time can lead to serious health problems, like tooth decay, for example.
Lowers blood pressure. Some studies found that those who consistently ate vinegar salad dressings had lower rates of heart disease than those that didn’t. Apparently, vinegar lowers blood pressure by inhibiting the enzyme responsible for constricting blood vessels. These studies don’t confirm that ACV is the driving force behind low blood pressure, but they show promise nonetheless.
Diabetes. This is one of the most researched health properties. Many studies show that ACV may help lower blood glucose levels. For example, one study found that participants who took 2 tablespoons of ACV at night lowered glucose levels by 4-6% in the morning! Be sure to consult your doctor on this one though. While there are positive effects of ACV consumption for diabetes, there have been some negative side effects, like worsening delayed stomach emptying. If you have diabetes and struggle with delayed stomach emptying already, make sure to talk to a health professional beforehand. For more info on diabetes, check out our diabetes 101 post by our registered dietitian.
Anti-tumour effects. While the anti-tumour effects of ACV are not 100% confirmed, research does show promising results. A study on mice demonstrated that vinegar-fed mice showed smaller tumour volumes compared to non-vinegar fed mice. If you have a family history of cancer, regular ACV consumption in low doses could help in tumour prevention.
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While those are the most common science-backed uses, there are other potential benefits, too. These are not scientifically proven, but many report that ACV can:
- Clear skin
- Improve digestion in small amounts. Find some other foods that aid digestion here.
- Boost gut health
- Sooth sunburns (mix ACV, coconut oil, and lavender essential oil, add it to a lukewarm bath and soak away!)
- Treat Warts
- Improve athlete’s foot
- Act as a natural deodorant
Overall, the hype around apple cider vinegar exists for a reason. Whether it’s for weight loss, sunburns, or simply for a light salad dressing, it’s definitely good for you and undeniably useful to keep in your pantry. If you have any of the concerns listed above and you want to try a natural solution, it doesn’t hurt to give ACV a go, but again – only in small doses and after you’ve consulted a health professional. For a great way to renew and reset after the holidays, try it in this winter salad, sweet-and-sour cauliflower, or mixed with water as a morning beverage. In the summertime, try it as a natural mosquito repellant! Happy ACV-ing!