Apple cider vinegar has been purported to be quite the health tonic recently. Claims ranging from removing warts to lowering cholesterol to aiding weight loss have been publicized. Many of these “amazing claims” have little, if any, medical or scientific research to back them up. Some are simply ancient folk remedies, while others do have a little research that is intriguing.
First of all, what is it? All vinegars are products of fermentation; just like alcohol. This process involves the breaking down of sugars by bacteria and yeast. Alcohol is formed during the first stage of fermentation; further fermentation leads to vinegar. This may explain why that special bottle of wine sitting for years in the cabinet above your stove may have tasted bad. There are many types of vinegars to choose from; obviously apple cider vinegar is made from the fermentation of crushed apples.
Health claims such as lowering blood sugar, risk of heart disease, and weight loss have a few scientific studies in humans; others such as lowering cholesterol, blood pressure, and decreasing cancer risk have only been shown in animal or laboratory studies.
So should you take it? There are a few possible risks associated with consuming apple cider vinegar that must be discussed prior to you deciding if this is for you. Keep in mind that apple cider vinegar is very acidic and should be diluted with water or juice before consuming. The acid is high enough to possibly cause some esophageal or stomach discomfort. Long-term use of any vinegar may cause potassium levels to drop leading to lower bone density. If osteoporosis runs in your family, apple cider vinegar may not be a wise choice. Despite some of the risks, if diluted properly, apple cider vinegar may offer you some benefits. It can act as a mild diuretic and may help prevent water weight gain. Additionally, when added to a mixed meal containing carbohydrates, it may give you a feeling of fullness leading to slower or less food consumption.
If you choose to try apple cider vinegar, use the pure liquid form and dilute it with water. Don’t consume a supplement or pill; nutritional supplements are not regulated so you can’t be sure what you are consuming. Adding some diluted apple cider vinegar to your olive oil as a salad dressing or having a diluted amount in your drinking water may offer you some benefits, but nothing works better than a healthy diet!