- Studies show that apple cider vinegar may help with weight loss, blood sugar control, and gut health.
- One study found that people who added apple cider vinegar to a calorie-restricted diet lost more weight than people who just cut calories.
- Apple cider vinegar has also been found to lower blood glucose levels in diabetics.
Apple cider vinegar is more than just a tangy salad dressing ingredient. It has been found to have some health benefits for weight loss, gut health, and blood sugar. Here’s what the research says about the benefits of apple cider vinegar.
What is apple cider vinegar?
Apple cider vinegar is made from apples using a three-step process:
- Apples are crushed and strained into pure apple juice.
- Then, yeast is added to the apple juice and left to ferment.
- After that, a special kind of bacteria called acetobacter is introduced to turn the alcohol into acetic acid, the main ingredient of vinegar.
The main ingredients in apple cider vinegar are water, 5 to 6 percent acetic acid, and small amounts of other acids like malic acid and amino acids.
Benefits of apple cider vinegar
Though there is only preliminary research on apple cider vinegar, the few studies that have been done show that it can have a number of benefits.
Apple cider vinegar may help you lose weight
According to a series of small, preliminary studies, apple cider vinegar may help you lose weight.
“However, the reduction in weight has been shown to be modest,” says Sapha Shibeeb, MD, a professor of physiology at Monash University in Australia.
For example, a study published in 2009 in Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry followed 175 participants who went about their usual diet and exercise patterns for 12 weeks, but added a drink of one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar diluted in 250 ml of liquid twice per day — one dose after breakfast and the other after dinner. The researchers found that people who drank the vinegar solutions lost on average 4.5 pounds by the end of those 12 weeks.
Another smaller study, published in the Journal of Functional Foods in 2018, found that people who added apple cider vinegar to a restricted calorie diet lost more weight than people who only restricted calories.
Shibeeb says that this could be because apple cider vinegar may have an effect on hunger levels. “Drinking vinegar before a meal may increase resting satiety (feeling full) and lead to less food consumption.”
However, if you are looking to lose weight, apple cider vinegar probably won’t be enough on its own, Shibeeb says. In order to get the best results from apple cider vinegar, you should combine it with exercise and lower calorie intake.
Apple cider vinegar is a probiotic
The type of apple cider vinegar you buy determines whether or not it will contain probiotics, live microorganisms that may support gut health.
Unfiltered apple cider vinegar contains brownish strands known as the “mother”, which is made up of probiotic bacteria. Filtered apple cider vinegar does not contain these bacteria and has a clearer appearance.
Experts believe that the probiotics in apple cider vinegar may be beneficial for gut health, but this has not been researched.
Apple cider vinegar can help control blood sugar
Early studies suggest that drinking apple cider vinegar after a meal can help control blood sugar for people with diabetes.
For example, in a small study from Diabetes Care published in 2004, people with diabetes drank 1.5 tablespoons of diluted apple cider vinegar after eating a high-carb meal while other participants drank a placebo. Results showed that people who drank the vinegar had significantly lower blood glucose levels an hour later.
Another study, published in the International Journal of Medical Research & Health Sciences in 2019, was conducted with 110 diabetes patients. Researchers found that after 3 months, participants who took 15 ml of apple cider vinegar each day with dinner had significantly lower blood sugar than people who took a placebo.
Researchers believe that apple cider vinegar helps control blood sugar because it makes your body more sensitive to insulin, the hormone that regulates your blood sugar levels. This is important because over time, people with diabetes can lose sensitivity to insulin, making it harder for their bodies to balance blood sugar after a high-carb meal.
Experts warn that apple cider vinegar is not a replacement for diabetes medications, but it may help to add it to your treatment plan.
Risks of apple cider vinegar
Drinking too much apple cider vinegar can have negative consequences.
“The main side effects include damage to tooth enamel and throat irritation,” Shibeeb says. This is because acetic acid can break down the minerals in your teeth and irritate sensitive throat tissue. This is more likely to happen if you drink apple cider vinegar undiluted – for a safer drink, use a 10 to 1 ratio of water to vinegar.
You should also stay away from apple cider vinegar if you have kidney disease, as the extra acid in your diet can be difficult for your kidneys to process.
How to take apple cider vinegar safely
Apple cider vinegar generally comes in liquid form, but you can find apple cider vinegar tablets. However, there is little research on whether these tablets provide any health benefits.
In order to avoid health risks and negative side effects, Shibeeb says that you should drink no more than 2 to 3 tablespoons of vinegar in 12 oz glass of water each day.