When you Google “Health benefits of apple cider vinegar”, you’ll see many claims. “Powerful tool for weight loss”, “metabolism booster”, “lowers blood sugar”, “flushes out toxins from your body”, among many others.
This evidence-based article will explore if apple cider vinegar is truly beneficial for weight loss and blood glucose control.
But first, what is apple cider vinegar?
Apple Cider Vinegar – What Is It?
Apple cider vinegar is a type of vinegar made by crushing apples and squeezing out the liquid. In a two-step process, bacteria and yeast are first added to the liquid to start the alcoholic fermentation process. It is here the sugars are turned into alcohol. In a second fermentation process, acetic acid-forming bacteria (acetobacter) is added, and the alcohol is converted into vinegar. This is what gives the vinegar its distinct sour taste.
However, did you know that the way apple cider vinegar is made is not different from how other popular types of vinegar such as malt vinegar, white vinegar, rice vinegar, and red wine vinegar are made? This means the different types of vinegar all contain acetic acid though made from different starting ingredients.
In other words, white vinegar and apple cider vinegar may not be nutritionally different. Though, at point of writing, there could be other components in the vinegars, of note, apple cider vinegar, that is not known.
Can Apple Cider Vinegar Help You Lose Weight?
The Dietitian’s verdict: Unfortunately, no.
There has yet to be large-scale human studies with definitive results to back up this health claim.
Studies that have been done were mostly small-scale and originated from animal test subjects. For example, in 2009, a group of Japanese researchers found that acetic acid suppressed the accumulation of body fat in high-fat-fed mice. While the same group of researchers went on to investigate this effect in 175 obese Japanese males, the 12-week long study demonstrated only marginal weight loss of 1-2kgs in the high daily vinegar dosage group.
What about Apple Cider Vinegar to Control My Blood Glucose?
The Dietitian’s verdict: Maybe but more studies are needed!
Apple cider vinegar may improve our body’s sensitivity to insulin; which means you need less insulin to cope with the rise in blood glucose, especially after a meal. However, the results are inconclusive, as studies on human subjects have been very small.
For example, a 2004 study demonstrated that while consuming apple cider vinegar may help blood glucose control by possibly making starch slightly less digestible, the study only had 29 subjects of which only 10 subjects had type 2 diabetes.
Until there is more research, we cannot recommend apple cider vinegar for improving blood glucose control.
The Bottom Line
Do not get distracted by the media’s exaggerated popularization and hype to a food with little or no scientific basis to its claims. Instead, keep your focus on a healthy lifestyle with a varied and balanced diet. If you wish to include apple cider vinegar in your meals, it can be a useful ingredient in the kitchen, adding much flavour to salads, vegetables, or even as a great substitute to a sugar beverage.
Remember, the best way to lose weight is a common sense combination of diet and exercise. There’s no magic bullet for weight loss – the key is to burn more calories than you consume (or to consume less than you burn). Enjoy and choose a variety of healthy foods – such as fruit, vegetables, wholegrains like wholemeal bread and brown rice, and lean sources of protein like fish and tofu. In addition, aim for 150 minutes of physical activity every week for a healthier you.
On top of this, to further manage your blood glucose, adhere to your medications (if any) prescribed by your doctor. Your blood glucose levels can rise to an unhealthy range quickly if you stop taking your medications. If you have diabetes and you want to use a supplement/health product, consult with your doctor and/or dietitian first. You may also wish to check your blood glucose more frequently to see the effect of the supplement/health product.