Like many other foods out there, apple cider vinegar or ACV, is getting a lot of media time about the health benefits it can provide, and the super benefits that come out of drinking it with lemon juice warm each morning. But is what is on the internet, being talked about, touted in gyms, in magazines, and as part of fitness blog posts all it’s cracked up to be? Here we investigate.
Vinegar can be made from many sources of carbohydrates that can be fermented, which includes apples, alcohol, cherries, and rice to name a few, but this is not an extensive list. To make vinegar, yeast ferments sugars into an alcohol, and then bacteria consumes this alcohol which creates acetic acid, which is what gives vinegar its distinctive bitter taste. The acetic acid of vinegar can vary between 4-7%, and apple cider vinegar sits between 5-6%.
For apple cider vinegar, there is limited reasons for why this is better than any other type of vinegar due to the very similar end product they produce. ACV can have a layer in it known as the “mother” (other types of vinegar can also produce this), which is the accumulation of a non-toxic slime made of yeast and acetic acid, and although promoted, it does not have any evidence to support the health statements made about it. Many types of vinegar, including red wine and cherry vinegar can develop a layer of mother if left to sit for some time, and it occurs due to the long fermentation period to produce the vinegar. It can be strained out.
On media channels, ACV is promoted to be a cure for pretty much anything – lose weight, fight cancer, to detoxifying your body to name a few. But what does the evidence say?
- Blood glucose levels – there is some evidence that indicates ACV MAY have an impact of delaying how quickly the stomach empties, and can help blunt the effects of glucose in our system after a high carbohydrate meal, but this evidence has only been shown to have some affect in diabetic populations, not all people.
- Weight loss – some studies have shown a higher weight loss in obese individuals who consumed ACV, but this may be due to the nauseating effect of the vinegar, or the slowing of stomach emptying after consuming a meal which leaves a longer feeling of fullness. No claims of accelerated weight loss should be made.
- Cardiovascular disease – very little research has been done on humans, most have been rodent studies. It can be taken, but there will be limited if any effects on cardiovascular health.
- Cancer – ACV has been shown to have anti-cancer effects in cells and rodents, but no claims are made for humans.
- Skin – claims have been made about acne treatments, reducing wrinkles, wound healing, and reducing moles to name a few, but there is NO evidence to support these claims.
- Oral health – apple cider vinegar has been claimed to improve bad breath and whiten teeth enamel. Current evidence does not support this. Vinegar of any kind if acidic, and constant exposure of enamel to vinegar and/or lemon juice can be very detrimental to long term dental health (chat to any dentist about it, they have noted increases in enamel problems with the consumption of ACV and lemon juice).
These are the main claims made, and as you have read there is very little evidence to support any of the claims around ACV. If you want to know more about alternative foods, vitamins, and minerals that can be better for you, make an appointment to see one of our Accredited Practising Dietitians.
Please note the use of “some” and “may” frequently throughout this blog, this is just to the limited evidence that is currently available, and to indicate that not always what we read is true.