Apple cider vinegar (also referred to in the article as ACV) is a popular kitchen product because of its extensive use in cooking, baking, salad dressings, and food preservatives. People also use apple cider vinegar as a home remedy for sore throat and varicose veins. However, there’s no solid scientific evidence to support these claims. It is considered an excellent probiotic that can keep a healthy gut, and researchers are looking into studies to see if it can live up to its many claims.
This article talks about the ACV and helps you understand what the evidence-based community says about the health benefit claims of consuming ACV.
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1. What is apple cider vinegar?
It is vinegar made from apple juice by fermenting the apple juice using yeast and bacteria to form alcohol, aka “apple cider.” The cider undergoes fermentation to create the vinegar .
2. What does it contain?
The main compound of ACV is the ‘acetic acid’ that gives vinegar its characteristic sour taste. Ordinary vinegar contains about 4% acetic acid, whereas ACV usually includes 5-6% acetic acid . We find the presence of acetic acid in fermented foods like kimchi and gundruk.
3. What is the reason for its popularity?
One of the popular claims about apple cider vinegar is its role in promoting weight loss. The other claims include improved gut health, lower blood glucose level, reduced triglycerides, better cholesterol level, and appetite suppression.
4. What does the scientific evidence say about the claims?
There are about 4246 research studies done on ACV. The results vary across studies due to differences in the study designs, type of participating subjects, and the study length. Hence the researchers did a systematic review to combine the results of these studies and came up with a conclusion. The systematic review included 16 studies involving 910 participants who met the criteria. These studies were randomized control trials (robust research design) and the research subjects were human participants who consumed vinegar daily for up to 12 weeks .
5. What did the systematic review conclude?
The review concluded that consumption of apple cider vinegar did not lead to significant changes in body weight. Also, the claim to reduce cholesterol did not show any change. However, there was a slight reduction in blood glucose levels and triglycerides in people with type 2 diabetes. The reduction in the blood glucose level is due to delayed (slow) gastric emptying. Since the reduction in the blood glucose and triglycerides level was mild but not significant, we require more long-term studies. Also, these studies missed looking into the role of acetic acid in the blood to see if the reduction in glucose and triglyceride levels were due to the increased level of acetic acid in the blood .
Adverse effects of ACV:
There are no significant side effects of ACV except for tooth enamel erosion, throat, and esophagus irritation when taken in the form of beverages. Thus, it can be rather used for salad dressing as the acetic acid can help absorb iron from the veggies .
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The delayed gastric emptying related to ACV might lead to bloating, nausea and vomiting in some people, especially those who already have gastroparesis (partial paralysis of the stomach) .
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1. Wikipedia Contributors (2019). Apple cider vinegar. [online] Wikipedia. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apple_cider_vinegar [Accessed 10 May 2021]. 2. Hanan, M. (n.d.). Apple Cider Vinegar: a review of the evidence | The Food Medic. [online] Available at: https://thefoodmedic.co.uk/2020/05/acv-a-review-of-the-evidence/ [Accessed 10 May 2021].
3. Valdes, D.S., So, D., Gill, P.A. and Kellow, N.J. (2021). Effect of Dietary Acetic Acid Supplementation on Plasma Glucose, Lipid Profiles, and Body Mass Index in Human Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, [online] 121(5), pp.895–914. Available at: https://jandonline.org/article/S2212-2672(20)31529-X/fulltext [Accessed 10 May 2021].
4. Richards, D. (2016). Impact of diet on tooth erosion. Evidence-Based Dentistry, 17(2), pp.40–40.
5. Hlebowicz, J., Darwiche, G., Björgell, O. and Almér, L.-O. (2007). Effect of apple cider vinegar on delayed gastric emptying in patients with type 1 diabetes mellitus: a pilot study. BMC Gastroenterology, [online] 7(1). Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2245945/.