What are the Real Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar?
Apple Cider Vinegar— it seems like it has been the cure all for every ailment ever known to man. From burning fat to fighting off cancer—it seems like the superfood. But if that’s the case—why aren’t we all walking around with ACV being intravenously fed to our blood pumpin’ veins?
Are there real benefits or is apple cider vinegar another fad? Ugh….don‘t let us down again, internet hype.
We dug deep in the dark corners of the scholarly web to bring you the truth behind ACV.
Shall we shed some light on it, curious soul?
A Brief History of Vinegar
You may have used it to clean your coffee maker, but have you used vinegar to treat wounds? Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, was a big fan of vinegar to treat all kinds of ailments. From coughs to wounds, if it needed fixin’ –vinegar was the answer. But, also has changed in medicine since 400 B.C.E. Could apple cider vinegar still hold the champion belt as a cure-all?
What is Apple Cider Vinegar?
Vinegar comes from the French vin aigre, meaning sour wine. And no, if you add apple to it, it doesn’t make it sweeter.
Apple cider vinegar, fondly referred to by its fans as ACV, is a type of vinegar made from apple must. The apples are crushed until the liquid is caught. Then yummy bacteria and yeast are added to it to commence fermentation. Alcohol forms first, then acetic acid-forming bacteria turns it into vinegar. Mmmm, doesn’t the whole process make you crave a good ol’ yeast and bacteria filled glass of apple cider vinegar? Yum-o.
You may have also heard of “The Mother” in apple cider vinegar, which makes this miracle solution all that more appetizing. Mmm a sour wine with a bacteria mother in it.
The Mother is the result of a slow fermentation process. The culture of acetic acid bacteria grows on the surface of the liquid over several weeks or months. This period allows for the accumulation of a slimy yeast and acetic acid bacteria blob to thrive and become……..The Mother. Gross.
But many claim that without the ACV Mom, you won’t benefit as much, or at all, from ACV. Spoiler alert–that’s simply unsubstantiated by science.
So, now we know what it is—or how it’s made, let’s talk about the science behind ACV benefits.
ACV is an Acetic Acid
ACV is a diluted acetic acid. As you can see from the list of foods below, vinegar is acidic based on its pH.
pH stands for potential of hydrogen (or power of hydrogen) and it measures how many protons are in a solution. The higher the number, the LESS acidic it is. Tricky tricky pH chart!
Recall this list from The Alkaline Diet? Yeah, you do. If you don’t–buff up your brain by heading there next to understand more about alkaline and acidic foods.
Well, while there are a lot of claims that ACV actually alkalizes the body, there are no true scientific studies to support that claim.
Now, there are studies that state certain acidic foods can have an alkalizing effect on the body due to the minerals they possess. Upon digestion, the minerals, such as potassium, can ‘alkalize’ the body. Therefore, these claims may be referring to that indirect alkalizing effect because apple cider vinegar contains small amounts of the minerals calcium, iron, sodium, phosphorous, potassium and magnesium.
While we were not able to find studies that specifically clear ACV as an alkalizer, there are acidic foods that were proven to become alkalizing once digested—so we aren’t completely ‘not sold’ on the idea it CAN be alkalizing. We just prefer science to back up any claims. So, while we cannot jump on the alkalizing bandwagon, there are plenty of scientific studies to support other claims about apple cider vinegar.
Let’s review them quickly, shall we? Super.
Apple Cider Vinegar Aids in Lipid Breakdown
Vinegar can slow the digestion of fats because it contains lipid blocking compounds. These polyphenols reduce fat absorption, lower cholesterol and improves cardiovascular health. These polyphenols are allegedly vinegar suppresses stomach enzymes that break down starches, thus slowing the release of blood glucose from starchy foods.
ACV Regulates Blood Sugar, Insulin, and Triglycerides
One study showed when subjects consumed an ounce of cheese with two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar before bed they had lower blood sugar levels the next morning compared to when they consumed the same snack with water.
Another study showed that vinegar consumption in patients with Type 2 diabetes improved blood sugar control, insulin levels, and high triglyceride levels. And an additional study confirmed an improvement in insulin action in adults with diabetes..
In addition to impact on blood sugar overnight, vinegar also suppresses stomach enzymes that break down starches, it slows the release of blood glucose from starchy foods, too.
Apple Cider Vinegar Improves Digestive Health
Studies on rats with digestive issues showed when acetic acid was added to their drinking water, higher levels of good bacteria were present in their guts and they had diminished symptoms of their gastrointestinal diseases.
ACV Improved Blood Pressure in Rats
Several studies have been conducted on rats regarding acetic acid’s effect on blood pressure. In one study, systolic readings were 20 points lower when rats were fed a diet with acetic acid over six weeks.
That’s a big drop over a short period. But–the study was conducted on rats, not humans. Something to think about…
Apple Cider Vinegar May Help Fight or Prevent Cancer
An apple cider vinegar a day keeps the doctor away?
We’ve all heard a diet ‘rich in fruits and vegetables’ can keep you healthy. That’s because of the polyphenols we mentioned earlier—fruits, veggies and ACV—among other things, have polyphenols.
Numerous studies show these bad boys inhibit cancer cell growth because of the way they interact with cell mechanisms and how they can stave off metastasis. This doesn’t mean only apple cider vinegar can prevent cancer, it means if you take it, and/or consume a diet rich in fruits and veggies, you may be increasing your odds of living longer and diminishing your chances of getting cancer. Thanks polyphenols.
Apple Cider Vinegar May Contribute to Moderate Weight Loss
A study reviewing vinegar’s long-term effects revealed moderate weight loss with subjects who consumed two tablespoons of vinegar prior to two meals per day. The weight loss was moderate, at around two to four pounds in one month. Now, the claims that ACV is a fat fighter and will “melt away pounds” isn’t necessarily a lie….two to four pounds are indeed ‘pounds’. But–like we always say–there is no miracle drink, diet or pill. Its all up to you when it comes to weight loss. Diet, exercise and lifestyle changes can have a more magical effect on your results.
That aside, it’s pretty clear if you’re consuming ACV and you know its aiding in digestion, lipid breakdown, and regulating blood sugar/triglycerides and helping with cardiovascular health—losing weight seems like the easiest task of them all!
In summary, apple cider vinegar, indeed, can help with cardiovascular health, digestive health, moderate weight loss and can help maintain overall health. Is it a miracle cure? Until it cures the flu–we think not, but we do think it’s pretty darn close! Want more help with your health and fitness goals? Go here.
How about you? Have you tried ACV as a health enhancer? What were your results? Share your story in the comments below, fit friend.