Apple Cider vinegar: Superfood or Superfad?
Darling, haven’t you heard? Just one shot of this liquid each morning can help you lose weight, banish those spots on your chin and even help lower your cholesterol. Oh no, darling, it’s not a vodka shot, it’s Apple Cider Vinegar! How do I know? Why it’s all over my Instagram feed. And I read that Miranda Kerr drinks a pint* a day.
*She doesn’t. That’s hyperbole. Please do not drink a pint of vinegar a day.
What is Apple Cider Vinegar?
Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is a type of vinegar made from apples. It’s sold in supermarket and health food shops, appearing in bottles as a murky yellow colour. Some ACV is sold organically or unpasteurised meaning the bottle contains the mother of vinegar. The mother of vinegar appears in the bottle as white strands or film.
It is suggested you use apple cider vinegar in the same way you would other vinegar – in dressings, chutney, baking or just drunk with water.
ACV has cemented itself as a ‘natural’ cure-all to everything from a sore throat, hiccups, diabetes, obesity, heart problems, dandruff, lice, discoloured teeth and even bruising. But like every health claim – it’s important to see if the evidence stacks up first. I’ll look just at the nutrition claims…
What does science say?
Apple cider vinegar for weight loss
This is one of the most common reasons people use ACV. It’s suggested drinking it with water each day will stimulate weight loss.
PEN Nutrition has this to say about the evidence into weight loss:
While one trial found 15-30 mL and day of apple cider vinegar to be associated with small, but statistically significant, weight loss of about 1-2 kg over 12 weeks, more research is needed to confirm that apple cider vinegar supplements aid weight loss.
Dietitian Carol Johnston has conducted 10 studies looking at the effects of acetic acid (a type of acid found in all vinegar) and diabetic blood glucose levels. Her studies indicate vinegar can help lower blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes.
But before you rush out to bulk buy vinegar, Johnston points out that there is no solid evidence, in her studies or others, to definitively make a link between apple cider vinegar and reducing diabetes risk. To prove this, she “would need hundreds of people and millions of dollars to do the studies, because diabetes has a lot of causes, including genetics” she says.
Also remember that her studies look at all vinegar, apple cider vinegar wasn’t singled out as having any special benefits.
ACV is touted as a detox aid. But there is zero evidence to show humans need to eat or eat anything special to ‘detox’. Our body is fantastic at removing waste.
- Digestive System removes bacteria or poison by vomiting or diarrhoea.
- Liver breakdowns toxins to be removed from the body
- Kidneys filter blood, removing toxins
- Lungs remove gases we don’t need
- Skin reduces the toxic substances penetrating through
The addition of a teaspoon of vinegar each won’t have any significant effect on the functioning of any of the above organs.
Benefits of apple cider vinegar
- It has antibacterial and antifungal properties – however, this is not unique to ACV – all types of vinegar have the same properties.
- Vinegar also contains polyphenols. Polyphenols are antioxidants that can prevent cell damage, reduces signs of ageing and reduce disease risk. But, again, polyphenols are not unique to ACV, and are in found in other vinegar, fruit, vegetables, nuts, meat and so on.
- Can be used as a natural home cleaner
The cons of Apple cider vinegar
- It’s very acidic. It has a pH level of between 2-3, making it as acidic as stomach acid. So it can actually damage your teeth and throat, upset your stomach and burn your skin if used incorrectly.
- Minimal evidence of its health claims
- Strong taste may not appeal to everyone
- It may actually interfere with medications so be sure to let your doctor know if you often consume ACV.
So is it a superfood or superfad?
Like my view of most things in life: If you like it, have it. But not too much. Have other stuff too.
So if you like the taste, go ahead and have it. But take the health claims with a grain of salt, or should I say, a shot of vinegar.
Bottle: Photo by Roberta Sorge on Unsplash
Salad: Photo by rawpixel.com on Unsplash