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Home cooks and health nuts have pinned their hopes on many miracle foods through the years: kale, spirulina, bonemeal. One of these, apple cider vinegar (or fermented apple juice), has had remarkable staying power, with purported benefits both big and small. Some claims (like warding off cancer) have zero research to back them up, while others are murkier, couched in pseudo-scientific language and personal success stories. So is ACV worth trying, or does it strike a sour note?
To Stabilize Blood Sugar
What’s the claim? That ACV regulates glucose, with short- and long-term benefits.
What we know: A few small, older studies found that drinking vinegar in general, before or at mealtime, could reduce blood sugar spikes and stabilize glucose after eating. This probably happens because vinegar delays stomach emptying, allowing the body to better metabolize glucose from the bloodstream, says Dennis Goodman, M.D., a cardiologist and clinical professor and director of integrative medicine at NYU Langone Health. That’s especially helpful for those with type 2 diabetes, but everyone can benefit from fewer swings, especially after meals.
Should you try it? Sure, but not to replace medication, balanced meals, or a doctor. This effect is linked to acetic acid, a by-product of fermentation, notes Carol Johnston, Ph.D., a professor of nutrition at ASU’s College of Health Solutions, who has studied ACV. “Any
vinegar may be useful,” she says, since all vinegars contain it. To add it to your diet, she recommends drinking 1 to 2 Tbsp of ACV diluted in water.
For Weight Loss
What’s the claim? That ACV makes you feel fuller with less food.
What we know: There is little scientific evidence for using ACV specifically for weight loss, Johnston says, but it shows some promise. A 2018 study (with 39 subjects) found that consuming the stuff and cutting 250 calories a day was more effective than reducing calories alone; the authors suggest that ACV reduces hunger. Older research backs this up, having found that vinegar helped people feel fuller after meals.
Should you try it? Maybe. It’s healthy in general, Dr. Goodman says, because of its probiotic powers and high levels of antioxidants, but it won’t transform your body. Changes like eating healthily and exercising more, he explains, are essential; there is no silver bullet for weight loss.
To Lower Blood Pressure
What’s the claim? That ACV alters the enzymes behind high blood pressure.
What we know: No clinical evidence links ACV to reduced blood pressure in human beings. A 2001 study found that acetic acid lowered hypertension in rats, probably
by lowering the enzyme renin, but this has never been replicated in people.
Should you try it? Both experts stress that consuming ACV in moderation is fine. (Going overboard could damage tooth enamel and worsen acid reflux, Dr. Goodman says.) But to reduce blood pressure, you should stick to the DASH diet, get more exercise, and quit smoking, among other changes.
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