Apple cider vinegar has received a large amount of media attention recently for its many health claims. However, how many of those claims have legitimate supporting evidence?
We spoke with Registered Dietitian Ashley Amaral from Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix to gather her input on the rise of the apple cider vinegar health claims.
“Apple cider vinegar, or ACV, contains acetic acid, magnesium and probiotics. The probiotics in ACV are derived from the fermentation process of sugar from apples, which is converted to alcohol and then to acetic acid, creating the ‘mother’ or floating particles in ACV,” Amaral said.
According to Amaral, the probiotics in ACV are where the health claims are derived from. The idea is the probiotics will improve gut health by creating healthy bacteria and promoting bowel regularity, thus resulting in less bloating. It is unclear how these specific probiotics impact the gut flora and whether these “good bacteria” survive the acidic environment of stomach acid.
Pectin, a type of soluble fiber, is beneficial for colon health and promotes bowel regularity. The pectin in whole apples is much higher than the pectin in a dose of ACV, which is 1 tablespoon. This makes ACV’s impact on colon health insignificant, unless you are drinking ¼ cup worth; in which case the risks outweigh the benefits.
Researched benefits and possible risks
ACV has been extensively studied for its impact on blood sugar control, says Amaral. According to the American Diabetes Foundation, taking 2 tablespoons of ACV at bedtime may improve blood sugar in the morning by 4 to 6 percent.
Due to its acidic composition, apple cider vinegar does come with some possible risks, including erosion of tooth enamel and worsening of acid reflux. It is also important to talk to your doctor before taking ACV if you have kidney disease.
“The takeaway message is to incorporate ACV into a healthy diet by using it to make salad dressing, marinades or for pickling vegetables,” says Amaral.
So, the next time you want to make a salad at home, think about using apple cider vinegar as your dressing.
Check out our series on Decoding the Diet for more nutrition tips.