June 15, 2018

Can apple cider vinegar help your health?

If you look for nutrition advice online, you just might find apple cider vinegar among the results. The kitchen staple is supposedly helpful for relieving allergies, losing weight, managing diabetes and boosting energy. But is it really the miracle liquid some publications claim?

UW Health registered dietitian Sarah Schumacher explains that there isn’t a lot of research to back up the many health claims, but there is some.

“There is some research, but little human research,” says Schumacher. “The acetic acid, which is found in any vinegar, may block the absorption of starch and therefore decrease blood glucose levels. But probably not enough to significantly alter diabetes control.”

She adds, consuming apple cider vinegar may help promote modest weight loss compared to placebo but stressed, “VERY modest weight loss – around 1/3 pound per week.”

Apple cider vinegar is getting even more mainstream with beverages on grocery store shelves now including the ingredient. But those products can be pricey. Some apple cider products promote the probiotic benefit, but Schumacher explains that is usually due to “the mother” – a mass of ascetic acid bacteria that forms when fermenting alcoholic liquids. And unless you are consuming it directly, there is little evidence that the vinegar contains probiotics or that the probiotics would reach the intestines.

If you decide to add apple cider vinegar to your diet, a typical amount is 1 to 2 tablespoons per day, dissolved in liquid. Schumacher notes if the vinegar is not mixed in a liquid, then it’s important to wash your mouth out with water to decrease risk of tooth erosion. While it can likely be mixed in with foods, such as salad dressings, she explains that the research isn’t clear on whether cooked vinegar would offer any benefits.

“While it’s unlikely to occur with just 1 or 2 tablespoons per day, caution should also be used if a person is taking diabetes medications. There is a possibility of producing too low blood sugar. It’s important to discuss with your doctor before adding any nutritional supplements to your diet,” Schumacher says.

She also says that some medications that can decrease potassium levels – such as digoxin and diuretics – should be careful about consuming large quantities of apple cider vinegar. There is some anecdotal evidence to suggest consuming larger amounts daily – 8 oz. – can lower potassium levels .

“Rather than rely on supplements or additives, the best thing individuals can do is focus on consuming a healthy, overall diet with plenty of variety,” comments Schumacher.