Apple cider vinegar is said to be a cure for numerous diseases and troublesome conditions. Most of these claims are not supported by any clinical evidence. It seems, however, that this vinegar may be of use in treating diabetes and related conditions such as obesity, high levels of cholesterol and high blood pressure. But is it really beneficial?
Diabetes … several studies suggest that apple cider vinegar can help lower glucose levels. One such study showed that taking two tablespoon of the vinegar at bed-time resulted in glucose levels in the morning that were lower than usual by about 5%. However this was a very small study and involved only 11 subjects.
Obesity … one study found that subjects who ate a piece of bread with small amounts of vinegar felt fuller that those who just ate the bread. But this too was a very small study, involving just 12 people.
Cholesterol … studies using rats have shown that vinegar can lower blood cholesterol levels. But no such studies have been undertaken using human beings as subjects.
Blood pressure … vinegar has also been show to lower blood pressure, but again the studies were only on rats.
However, a large observational study found that people who ate salads with oil and vinegar dressing at least five times a week had lower rates of heart disease than other persons. The problem is that, although this was a large-scale study, it’s virtually impossible to say that it was the vinegar that did the trick and not some other variable, such as one of the vegetables.
The results of these studies may, overall, be promising. But they are little more than that. Much larger studies are required to determine whether apple cider vinegar (or indeed any vinegar) can be of benefit to our health.
In the meantime, should we be taking apple cider vinegar on the grounds that it may be? Perhaps not. Vinegar is by no means risk-free.
How safe is vinegar?
Apple cider vinegar is highly acidic and is known to occasionally burn the skin on contact. This means that it could damage the enamel of your teeth and the flesh of your mouth and throat. Obviously it should always be diluted with water or a juice and taken with caution.
Anyone (like myself) who has experienced acid reflux, in which stomach acid released during the digestive process flows back up the throat, will be extremely wary of anything that damages the linings of the throat and mouth.
Apple cider vinegar could also, in theory, have an adverse effect on medicines taken for diabetes and heart disease. In addition, it has been suggested that this vinegar could lower potassium levels and reduce bone density.
Again it appears that nothing has been clinically proven in large-scale studies.
In my view, until such time as large-scale clinical studies prove the benefits and risks attached to taking apple cider vinegar, the best bet is to avoid this vinegar except as a condiment or vinaigrette.