Apple Cider Vinegar – Magic Elixir Or Marketing Hype?

Over the years, apple cider vinegar has been upheld as a natural miracle cure for anything from weight loss to lowering cholesterol to decreasing diabetes.  Is it all hype or is there really something special within apple cider vinegar making it a magical amber elixir many people use and believe in?

The short answer is maybe.  Apple cider vinegar does contain several nutrients such as potassium, calcium, copper, iron, and the fiber pectin.  However, the amount of each of these nutrients is minimal and you’d be much better off just eating an apple.  But, there is one ingredient it has standing out from the rest in possibly giving apple cider vinegar a health halo – acetic acid.

Acetic acid is a colorless liquid that gives vinegar its characteristic sour taste, pungent smell and bite.  Vinegar is between 3-9% acetic acid by volume making acetic acid the main component of vinegar besides water.

There have been some studies supporting a relationship between acetic acid and possible health improvements.  One of them is helping to keep blood sugar under control in diabetes.  Acetic acid found in apple cider vinegar has a similar effect on blood sugar metabolism as the diabetes drug Metformin.  Studies found consuming vinegar helped regulate blood sugar more effectively.

The reason for this is that acetic acid in apple cider vinegar helps increase an enzyme called AMPK.  With this increase of AMPK, the body’s cells are more sensitive and receptive to the hormone insulin allowing a higher uptake of blood sugar into the cells, thus lowering blood sugar or glucose levels.  This same increase of AMPK, also reduces the production of glucose in the liver.  

The higher levels of AMPK also decrease the level of other enzymes which control lipogenesis (the formation of fat) and triglycerides (type of fat found in the blood)  helping alter metabolism by encouraging fat breakdown instead of fat storage. 

What about apple cider vinegar and helping with weight control?  Some proponents say consuming a small amount of apple cider vinegar before a meal reduces appetite andaids in burning fat.  This is where it gets murky and the scientific evidence doesn’t seem to support the claims.  A 2009 study showed a very minimal weight loss effect when participants used apple cider vinegar losing only 2-4 pounds in 12 weeks. 

Does apple cider vinegar supplements or pills do the same thing as the liquid version?  The pills do contain the same nutrients as the liquid vinegar but the amounts will vary between brandlabels.  Plus, supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration.  This means contents within the supplements aren’t necessarily reflected on the ingredient label.  Many apple cider vinegar supplements do not contain acetic acid and therefore would not provide the possible health benefits like the liquid does. 

Truth be known, even though apple cider vinegar may bask in the spotlight of clever marketing, all vinegars – red wine, white distilled, etc. – contain acetic acid, the one ingredient appearing to provide a healthboost.

Bottom line, apple cider vinegar may provide some health benefits for some people but don’t see it as miracle cure. It’s very important if you are going to try and use it, to use common sense in doing so – otherwise it can be harmful: 

·         Always dilute 1 to 2 tablespoons of vinegar in 8 ounces of water and drink it before eating, once or twice a day. 

·         Never drink it straight without diluting it. 

·         Like all vinegars, apple cider vinegar is highly acidic causing irritation to the soft tissues of the mouth, throat and esophagus.  It can also lead to tooth erosion

·         Be aware it can interact with medications, including diuretics and insulin.  Always check with your physician before using it as a therapeutic remedy.