For centuries, vinegar has been used for various household and cooking purposes.
It is also an ancient folk remedy, claimed to help with all sorts of health problems.
The most popular vinegar in the natural health community is Apple Cider Vinegar.
It is claimed to lead to all sorts of benefits, some of which are supported by science.
This includes weight loss, lower blood sugar levels and improved symptoms of diabetes.
Here are 5 health benefits of apple cider vinegar, that are
supported by scientific research.
1. High in acetic acid, which has potent biological effects
Vinegar is made in a two-step process, related to how alcohol is made.
The first step exposes crushed apples (or apple cider) to yeast, which ferment the sugars and turn them into alcohol.
In the second step, bacteria are added to the alcohol solution, which further ferment the alcohol and turn it into acetic acid… the main active compound in vinegar.
In French, the word “vinegar” actually means “sour wine.”
Organic, unfiltered apple cider vinegar (like Bragg’s) also contains “mother,” strands of proteins, enzymes and friendly bacteria that give the product a murky, cobweb-like appearance.
This is what it looks like:
Some people believe that the “mother” is responsible for most of the health benefits, although there are currently no studies to support this.
Apple cider vinegar only contains about 3 calories per tablespoon, which is very low.
There are not many vitamins or minerals in it, but it does contain a tiny amount of potassium. Quality apple cider vinegar also contains some amino acids and antioxidants
2. Can kill many types of bacteria
Vinegar can help kill pathogens, including bacteria (2).
It has traditionally been used for cleaning and disinfecting, treating nail fungus, lice, warts and ear infections.
However, many of these applications have currently not been confirmed by research.
Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, used vinegar for wound cleaning over two thousand years ago.
Vinegar has been used as a food preservative, and studies show that it inhibits bacteria (like E. coli) from growing in the food and spoiling it.
If you’re looking for a natural way to preserve your food… then apple cider vinegar could be highly useful.
There have also been anecdotal reports of diluted apple cider vinegar helping with acne when applied on the skin, but I didn’t find any research to confirm this so take it with a grain of salt.
3. Lowers blood sugar levels and fights diabetes
By far the most successful application of vinegar to date, is in patients with type 2 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes is characterized by elevated blood sugars, either in the context of insulin resistance or an inability to produce insulin.
However, elevated blood sugar can also be a problem in people who don’t have diabetes… it is believed to be a major cause of ageing and various chronic diseases.
So, pretty much everyone should benefit from keeping their blood sugar levels stable.
The most effective (and healthiest) way to do that is to avoid refined carbs and sugar, but apple cider vinegar may also have a powerful effect.
Vinegar has been shown to have numerous benefits for insulin function and blood sugar levels:
- Improves insulin sensitivity during a high-carb meal by 19-34% and significantly lowers blood glucose and insulin responses .
- Reduces blood sugar by 34% when eating 50 grams of white bread.
- 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar before bedtime can reduce fasting blood sugars by 4% .
- Numerous other studies, in both rats and humans, show that vinegar can increase insulin sensitivity and significantly lower blood sugar responses during meals .
For these reasons, vinegar can be useful for people with diabetes, pre-diabetes, or those who want to keep their blood sugar levels low to normal for other reasons.
If you’re currently taking blood sugar lowering medications, then check with your doctor before increasing your intake of apple cider vinegar.
4. Helps you lose weight by making you feel full
Given that vinegar lowers blood sugar and insulin levels, it makes sense that it could help you lose weight.
Several human studies suggest that vinegar can increase satiety, help you eat fewer calories and even lead to actual pounds lost on the scale.
Vinegar along with high-carb meals can increase feelings of fullness and make people eat 200-275 fewer calories for the rest of the day .
By reducing calorie intake, this should translate to reduced weight over time.
A study in obese individuals showed that daily vinegar consumption led to reduced belly fat, waist circumference, lower blood triglycerides and weight loss :
- 15mL (1 tablespoon): Lost 2.6 pounds, or 1.2 kilograms.
- 30mL (2 tablespoons): Lost 3.7 pounds, or 1.7 kilograms.
However… keep in mind that this study went on for 12 weeks, so the true effects on body weight seem to be rather modest.
That being said, just adding/subtracting single foods or ingredients rarely has a noticeable effect on weight.
It’s the entire diet/lifestyle that counts… you need to combine several effective methods to see results.
Overall, it seems like apple cider vinegar may be useful as a weight loss aid, mainly by promoting satiety and lowering glucose and insulin levels.
But it won’t work any miracles on its own.
5. May have protective effects against cancer
Cancer is a terrible disease, characterized by uncontrolled growth of cells.
There is a lot of hype online about the anti-cancer effects of apple cider vinegar.
Some studies have shown that vinegar can kill cancer cells and shrink tumors
However, all of the studies on this were done in isolated cells in test tubes, or rats, which proves nothing about what happens in a living, breathing human.
Additionally, most of the studies were done on rice vinegar, not apple cider vinegar.
That being said, some observational studies (which don’t prove anything) have shown that vinegar ingestion is linked to decreased esophageal cancer in China, but increased bladder cancer in Serbia .
Overall… it is possible that apple cider vinegar may help to prevent cancer, but it is definitely premature to make any recommendations based on the current research.