Apple cider vinegar and its benefits hanging from a tree

Apple cider vinegar has recently become the center of interest in more studies. The results are promising and ACV seems to have important health benefits without serious┬áside effects. That’s why incorporating ACV in your salad is a good idea. We’ll look into how ACV can help you stay fit and healthy.

Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is a product of fermenting apples. In the process of fermentation, the sugar from apples gets converted into acetic acid. That’s the main active compound in apple cider vinegar. ACV is a well-known home remedy for centuries. Even doctors in ancient times like Hippocrates used it to treat patients. For example, the use of ACV for weight loss is famous. But it has also been used to treat head lice, warts, varicose veins, … Some of the effects of ACV are being confirmed by modern studies. Others seem to be anecdotal without real proof.

Here are some of the conditions proven ACV can help with:

Apple Cider Vinegar health benefits

Reduces blood sugar levels

Blood sugar levels reduced by ACV

By far the most studied effect of ACV is the fact that it lowers blood sugar levels. It seems that ACV helps sugar leave the bloodstream faster by lowering insulin resistance. This effect is noticeable even in diabetic subjects. The research shows that ACV improves the action of insulin. So much so that it is comparable to the effects of some diabetes drugs. That’s why doctors prescribed ACV as a medicine for diabetes even before modern diabetes medication existed. In other words, you can consume ACV with a high-glycemic index meal that is high in carbs and simple sugars. In that case, your blood sugar levels are going to be much lower than if you don’t eat any ACV with the same meal. This is particularly useful for people who suffer from type 2 diabetes. As this is a way to control their blood sugar levels. Although the best action for people with insulin resistance is to avoid high glycemic index foods in the first place and eat complex carbohydrates with lots of fiber.

Lowers cholesterol

In a small human trial study, people with high cholesterol blood levels drank 30 ml (about 2 tablespoons) of ACV twice a day for eight weeks. They drank the ACV diluted in a solution. Just so nobody gets the idea to drink vinegar straight up. It is an acid after all! The researchers found that all participants had much lower LDL, triglyceride, and cholesterol levels at the end of the study. They concluded that ACV can be used as an effective inexpensive treatment to lower blood lipid levels. Lowering excess fat from the blood can prevent atherosclerosis in the long run.

Improves artery function

As shown in the previous study ACV can get rid of excess fat from the blood. In the long run, this can improve artery function and prevent atherosclerosis. But it seems that vinegar has another beneficial effect on our arteries. Researchers found that vinegar makes the arteries dilate better. It seems to boost the activity of an enzyme that produces nitric oxide. Nitric oxide makes our blood vessels expand, increases blood flow, and lowers plaque formation in our arteries. So having more nitric oxide is a good thing. We know that exercise is one of the things that improves nitric oxide production. But by incorporating a little ACV in your diet you can boost production of nitric oxide to widen your arteries.

Helps with weight loss

Apple cider vinegar as a weight loss remedy

ACV is most famous for its ability to improve weight loss. This is something even my grandma knew can help lose weight. And it seems that there is some real science behind that claim. A Japanese study investigated the effects of acetic acid on weight loss and body fat mass. They assigned obese people into three groups. One group drank 15 ml of acetic acid per day, the second group used 30 ml per day and the third group was given a vinegar tasting placebo. The trial lasted for 12 weeks. It showed that both groups using vinegar experienced weight loss of about 1-2 kilos. Not only did they lose weight but they also reduced their visceral fat area, waist circumference, and serum triglycerides. The subjects didn’t change anything else in their diet or fitness routine. The interesting thing was that the weight loss came from fat reduction. To be more precise the participants lost some subcutaneous fat but also a significant amount of visceral fat. Visceral fat is the fat that’s situated around your organs and is the “dangerous” fat. This type of fat causes many health problems in the obese. ACV seems to be able to reduce the visceral fat area. That’s why ACV can be a helpful tool for healthy weight loss. According to the study, these effects were achieved with as little as a tablespoon a day.

Lowers blood pressure

Blood pressure measurement

A study conducted in 2001 showed significantly reduced blood pressure and renin activity after administering acetic acid to rats. Although this study showed promising results up to date there hasn’t been any more research on humans. It seems that ACV enhances calcium absorption which helps downregulate the renin-angiotensin system. Which lowers blood pressure as a result. ACV seems to be effective for lowering blood pressure but more research is needed to understand the effects of ACV on blood pressure.

Supports healthy digestive function

The human gut has two main bacteria types: Bacteroidetes and Firmicutes. Research shows that the bacterial flora in healthy adults is different compared to obese people. Healthy weighing adults have more Bacteroidetes than Firmicutes in their gut. This ratio can be changed through diet. Certain phytonutrients, called polyphenols seem to feed Bacteroidetes while suppressing the growth of Firmicutes. ACV is a good source of polyphenols. They originate from the apples and apple skins used to make ACV. This way ACV promotes a healthy gut flora and helps the digestive function. Researchers believe that this could be the explanation why ACV is so effective for weight loss.

How to use Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar drink

Before you go out there and use ACV on a regular basis be aware that you shouldn’t drink ACV undiluted. ACV is an acid and can burn your esophagus if you drink it straight. You can use 1-2 tablespoons mixed in your salad dressing. If you choose to drink it always dilute 1-2 tbs in a glass of water. Also don’t use it directly on your skin as it can cause skin burns.

One word of caution: keep your teeth healthy

ACV and tooth erosion

Like all acidic foods, ACV leads to tooth erosion. After drinking or eating food with ACV flush your teeth with some water. That way you’ll lower the acidity level in your mouth and keep your tooth enamel strong. Don’t brush your teeth at least 30 min after eating ACV as this will only speed up tooth erosion.

As ACV became a popular miracle food lately, many other health benefits were linked to ACV. But they are not supported and proven by scientific research. ACV supposedly helps with acid reflux, dissolving of gallstones, whitening teeth, helping with arthritis, getting rid of candida and many other conditions. But up to date, there is no real evidence to support these claims. For sure there is a lot of space to research and clarify the effects of ACV. As things are right now I believe that the benefits linked to ACV through research are amazing enough to start using it in our salads.

Photo credit: Urban wired, apple cider vinegar by merii