Lately, bloggers, Pinterest and the internet in general have flocked towards apple cider vinegar—and why not? The list of its purported benefits goes on for a while! But how much of it is hype and how much if it is actually backed by science? First, let me begin by saying that in this article, “apple cider vinegar” will refer to the raw form only. It should have the “mother” of the vinegar, which appears as strand-like particles. The clear stuff you can get for under a dollar at Walmart has been processed and does not carry any of the benefits of raw apple cider vinegar.
My research on the topic has yielded both good and bad results. First, the good.
There seems to be a strong indication of apple cider vinegar’s effects on blood sugar levels. In a 2007 study of 11 people with Type 2 diabetes, taking two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar before bed was shown to lower their glucose levels in the morning by about 4-6%.
Further to the above, WebMD goes on to tell us:
A 2006 study showed evidence that vinegar could lower cholesterol. However, the study was done in rats, so it’s too early to know how it might work in people.
NOTE: Apple cider vinegar is VERY POTENT! It must always be diluted before being ingested, whether with water or juice, doesn’t matter.
Now the bad. There are a lot of folk legends running amok online (as is the way of the interwebs), that ACV will cure everything from an upset stomach to cancer. However, I would strongly advice caution in this matter. For example:
A few laboratory studies have found that vinegar may be able to kill cancer cells or slow their growth. Observational studies of people have been confusing. One found that eating vinegar was associated with a decreased risk of esophageal cancer. Another associated it with an increased risk of bladder cancer.
That sounds like a bit of a gamble!
Additionally, a number of sources (WebMD among them) note that ACV, being an acid, can harm the enamel of your teeth. However, this Reader’s Digest article recommends it for whitening your teeth without any kind of warnings whatsoever. Not cool, Reader’s Digest. Not cool. You know folks are going to start following this advice blindly.
In that particular scenario, The Herbivore Hippi tells us the following:
Dentists recommend that if you use it as a mouth rinse you must be sure to rinse your mouth thoroughly! The acids, if used too often or not rinsed away will not only soften your teeth but also wear away at the tooth enamel even though it can strengthen brittle teeth. Apple cider vinegar is incredibly potent so always remember to dilute it!
I’d be interested to see how the cancer and cholesterol studies pan out down the road, but in the meantime, those of you with diabetes might consider talking to your doctors about including apple cider vinegar into your diets/daily routines. Please do not just jump into this without consulting your healthcare provider, as vinegar containes chromium and can alter your insulin levels. Your doctor will be in the best position to alter/adjust your current medication to account for the change in insulin levels.