Vinegar for blood sugar, cholesterol & weight loss?

12 Jun 2024

Vinegar has stood the test of time as one of the oldest fermented products, serving both as a traditional food preservative and medicinal remedy for centuries. Today, it's in the spotlight with many health claims dubbing it a 'superfood'. Is there any evidence behind the hype?

What is it?

A fermented liquid: It’s made from the fermentation of ingredients like apples, grapes, rice, or wheat in a two-step process. First, yeasts convert the sugars in the fruit juice or other liquid into alcohol, then Acetobacter bacteria convert the alcohol into acetic acid, which brings potential health benefits.

Different types: You can find many different types with unique aromas and flavours depending on the starting ingredients, microorganisms, and fermentation processes.

Used as an ancient remedy: Early records from China, the Middle East, and Greece mention its medicinal uses, from aiding digestion to healing wounds and coughs. Hippocrates, around 420 BC, used it to treat wounds, and in the 8th century, Samurai warriors in Japan relied on vinegar as a tonic for strength.

Health benefits

Blood sugar control: Clinical trials found that taking vinegar significantly reduced glucose levels after meals in both healthy people and those with type 2 diabetes. A recent meta-analysis also suggests that it can reduce fasting blood sugar and HbA1c, a marker of long-term blood sugar.

Cholesterol levels: A meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials found that consumption of vinegar reduced total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol.

Weight management? A recent trial found that giving people an apple cider vinegar drink in the morning reduced their weight, body mass index, waist/hip circumferences and body fat ratio. But the evidence for weight loss is still very limited and based on short-term studies.

What’s going on? Vinegar contains organic acids, especially acetic acid, and small amounts of polyphenols, which can possibly:

  • Slow gastric emptying, making you feel fuller during meals and lowering your appetite.
  • Lower the action of the digestive enzyme α-amylase, slowing down the release of glucose into the bloodstream.
  • Increase the uptake of glucose by skeletal muscles.

How much? The sweet spot seems to be between 10 to 30 mL, which is roughly 1 to 2 tablespoons of vinegar per day.

Which type? Most studies looked at apple cider vinegar, but any vinegar could have some benefits. Just keep in mind that balsamic vinegar is higher in sugar.

Not a magic bullet: Vinegar can be a nice addition to your meals, but there is much more evidence supporting the health benefits of a healthy diet, including a variety of vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.

A few precautions:

  1. Dilute it: Vinegar is highly acidic, so it can damage tooth enamel if you have it on its own.
  2. Don’t have too much: Stick to a few tablespoons a day, as larger quantities could have some adverse side effects.
  3. Talk to your doctor if you take medications or have kidney disease.

What to look for in the shop

✅ Raw and unfiltered to retain beneficial enzymes and bacteria

✅ No added ingredients

✅ Glass bottle

✅ Sediment and cloudiness, known as ‘the mother’ which is a natural byproduct of fermentation and indicates a less processed product.

3 ways to enjoy

  1. Morning elixir: Mix 1-2 tablespoons of ACV with a glass of warm water.
  2. Salad dressings & marinades: Combine with olive oil, mustard, and herbs.
  3. Healthy mocktail: Add a splash of ACV to sparkling water with a squeeze of lemon, frozen berries and mint.





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