It’s been around for at least a couple of millennia and has been touted as a natural medicine, household cleaner, food preservative and beauty aid. It’s been recommended by the likes of Dr. Mehmet Oz and Hippocrates. Apple cider vinegar is inexpensive and readily available. But does it live up to its reputation?
As it turns out, research has supported some popular uses of apple cider vinegar (ACV). Other uses, not so much.
Lowering blood sugar: Some success.
This is one of the most popular uses of ACV, and it’s supported by research. Studies have shown that one to two tablespoons mixed with a glass of water and taken before each meal can help lower blood glucose in people with diabetes or prediabetes (also called insulin resistance). It does this by blocking some absorption of starch in the food you eat. Still, don’t think that vinegar can replace conventional treatment for diabetes, and if you decide to try it, be sure to tell your doctor first. Vinegar may increase the effect of some diabetes medications.
Weight loss: Limited success.
This is another oft-cited use of ACV, and research has shown some success. But ACV wasn’t much more effective than placebo. The best way to lose weight is (and probably always will be) burning more calories than you consume.
As a disinfectant for wounds: Not effective.
Hippocrates, considered the father of modern medicine, recommended a vinegar solution for cleaning wounds and ulcerations. But today’s experts caution against it. Vinegar may be slightly effective at preventing the growth of Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria, but other agents are more effective — and ACV is not effective against most other bacteria.
Cleaning or whitening teeth: No.
Vinegar is acidic and can actually harm your teeth’s enamel. In fact, you should never drink straight vinegar. Make sure it is well diluted. One or two tablespoons per cup of water is about the right strength.
As a household cleaner: OK for some uses.
Apple cider vinegar, like white vinegar, is often used as a natural and biodegradable alternative to harsh chemical cleaners. It works great for cleaning soap scum and mineral deposits. It even works against mold, but it isn’t very effective against bacteria or other germs that can cause sickness. It also doesn’t work well against grease. Never mix vinegar with bleach or ammonia — it can create toxic gases.
Food preservation: Used for centuries.
Like white vinegar, apple cider vinegar is often used in pickling and as a natural preservative in many foods. Make sure to use vinegar with 5 percent acetic acid.
Looking to improve your nutrition? Contact a dietitian at the McConnell Heart Health Center, we’re ready to support you!