Posted on Jan 20, 2017, 6 a.m.
Is apple cider vinegar all that it's cracked up to be? Here are some of the science-backed benefits.
Vinegar is an ingredient used in many dishes, sauces and dressings, and it also has various other uses related to cleaning, deodorizing and sanitizing. While there are various types of vinegar available, apple cider vinegar is the variety commonly found in most kitchens. In addition to its many other uses, apple cider vinegar is also touted as an effective way to treat or prevent various health problems such as cancer, cardiac disease and diabetes. Many nutritionists recommend using the organic, unfiltered variety of vinegar with the "mother" since the higher level of enzymes, proteins and friendly bacteria are more beneficial.
- Antibacterial - vinegar has been used as a disinfecting cleaner, a food preservative and a fungicide. The acetic acid present in vinegar is able to kill bacteria and prevent their growth. Apple cider vinegar has long been used to preserve foods since the acetic acid prevents bacteria such as E. coli from causing spoilage. All types of pickled foods are made with vinegar and remain shelf stable for up to a year.
- Weight loss aid - when as little as 2 tablespoons per day is combined with high-carbohydrate meals, vinegar can create a feeling of being full while consuming fewer calories. While the average amount of weight loss is less than 2 pounds per month, a reduction in belly fat and waist circumference is an added benefit.
- Reduces blood sugar - since it has been shown to normalize blood sugar levels in people with diabetes and pre-diabetes, they can benefit from adding apple cider vinegar to their diet. Diabetics that are taking medication to lower their blood sugar should consult with their doctor before increasing their intake of vinegar.
- May reduce cholesterol and risk of heart disease - while no human studies have been done to support this benefit, research using animals has shown apple cider vinegar can reduce blood pressure, cholesterol and triglycerides. More research needs to be done to determine whether the same benefit exists for humans as it has in animal studies.
- Cancer prevention - laboratory studies found that apple cider vinegar may be able to slow the growth of cancer cells or even kill them. Some nutritionists believe that maintaining the proper alkaline/acid balance can prevent cancer, and vinegar can be used to restore this balance.
- Natural hair rinse - commercial shampoos and conditioners can cause product buildup over time, but the acid in apple cider vinegar can remove it, leaving the hair shiny and tangle-free. The vinegar should be mixed with an equal part of water and left on the hair a few minutes before rinsing. This process can also be used to treat dandruff since the acid it contains kills Malassezia, a fungus thought to cause dandruff.
Apple cider vinegar has been around for hundreds of years and it has many beneficial applications. Unfortunately, science often neglects to conduct research on natural products since there is little funding for them. However, the use of vinegar has shown it does have some significant health benefits even though they are not generally supported by science.