Apple cider vinegar is characterised by its unique and unpleasant taste, so it’s no surprise that the word vinegar derives from the French word ‘vin-aigre’ which translates to ‘sour wine’. Apple cider vinegar is hard to stomach but it’s definitely worth it if the vinegar really does improve your health. Express.co.uk chatted to Dr Deborah Lee from Dr Fox Online Pharmacy to find out the proven benefits of apple cider vinegar.
Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is made by mixing crushed apples with yeast and sugar and fermenting them to make alcohol.
Specific bacteria – known as acetobacter – are then added to produce acetic acid.
Acetic acid is the reason behind many of the vinegar’s health benefits – even though ACV has the lowest acetic acid content of any type of vinegar.
Apple cider vinegar contains 3.5 to 5 percent acetic acid, white wine vinegar contains 7 percent, and balsamic vinegar 6 percent.
Lots of health gurus swear by the drink, but many others claim it’s totally useless.
Dr Lee told Express.co.uk that, while some studies on the benefits of ACV are hopeful, there is not enough research in the use of ACV.
There are a few things you need to get right when it comes to taking apple cider vinegar daily.
You can’t pick any old bottle from the shelf of your local corner shop and expect to see lower blood sugar levels and a reduced BMI the next day.
Dr Lee said: “If you choose to take ACV, don’t expect instant results.
“The benefits of ACV on weight loss are small and you may not see any difference for at least 12 weeks.”
“Always choose the best quality of apple cider vinegar, specifically an organic, unfiltered product.
“Organic products are free from preservatives and pesticides.
“Go for an unfiltered vinegar because the pulp residue has not been filtered out. This residue is probiotic and has additional health benefits.”
Whatever you do, don’t drink vinegar neat! Always dilute one tablespoon with a large glass of water.
Dr Lee recommends drinking this no more than twice a day because “ACV is a powerful acid and can be corrosive for your oesophagus (throat.) It can also damage tooth enamel.”
If you can’t handle the taste, you could try ACV tablets instead.
Dr Lee said there seems to be no difference in the bioavailability between the capsules or the liquid.
She added: “If you have any chronic health conditions, and take regular medication, check with your doctor before you start taking ACV. It can interfere with medications, such as heart and diabetes medications, and diuretics.”
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What does apple cider vinegar do?
Although most studies on apple cider vinegar have been small and on animals, vinegar has been shown to have various properties which are beneficial to the health of humans.
Vinegar is antibacterial, which is why so many people use it to clean their homes.
Apple cider vinegar destroys many kinds of bacteria, so it can be used as a medicinal treatment for different problems.
It could, for example, help you to manage any staph infections on your skin.
However, it’s important to recognise that it does not destroy the Covid-19 virus.
Vinegar has strong antioxidant properties.
Dr Lee said: “Antioxidants are vital for good health as they neutralise dangerous molecules called free radicals which are produced every day as part of normal metabolism.
“Free radicals cause DNA damage. They are associated with the development of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.”
Control of blood glucose
Apple cider vinegar could help you to regulate your blood glucose, which is useful if you need to control your blood sugar levels.
Dr Lee said: “Drinking vinegar before eating starchy foods reduces the natural spike in blood sugar levels which naturally occurs immediately after eating a meal.”
Regulation of blood lipids
ACV can also help to regulate your blood lipids.
Dr Lee said: “ACV has been shown to reduce plasma levels of cholesterol and triglycerides.”
When combined with a healthy diet and exercise, apple cider vinegar can aid weight loss.
Dr Lee said: “Small, randomised, placebo-controlled, trials in humans have shown that taking ACV results in significantly greater weight loss than taking a placebo.”
There is some evidence that apple cider vinegar may lower your risk of cancer.
Dr Lee explained: “ACV may lower cancer risk because it increases the rate of apoptosis (cell death) of new cancer cells in the small intestine, and in the mouth.”
However most of the research on ACV as a cancer treatment involves animal studies rather than humans, so the link is yet to be verified.
May help prevent bone loss
If bone loss is something you’re worried about, you should do some research on apple cider vinegar.
Dr Lee said: “Studies in ovariectomised rats have shown that taking ACV improves bone mass and bone strength, and reduces bone resorption.”
Again, this correlation is yet to be tested on humans.