Used medicinally for more than 2,000 years, apple cider vinegar is a traditional remedy popular for helping to maintain blood sugar levels.
Where does it come from?
It's made by fermenting apples and their juice twice, once with yeasts to produce cider and then with bacteria (the 'mother') to convert the alcohol to acetic acid. Products that contain the mother are unfiltered and have antioxidant and prebiotic effects.
What can it help?
Apple cider vinegar slows stomach emptying, which suppresses appetite and helps you feel full for longer. As a result, the absorption of fats and sugar may be slower, which can have a beneficial effect on cholesterol balance and glucose control. It also slows the breakdown of complex carbohydrates further down the gut, helping to reduce blood sugar swings that can trigger hunger and snacking.
Eleven volunteers from the US who took apple cider vinegar before a carbohydrate-rich meal felt twice as full afterwards and ate between 200 and 275 kcals fewer over the rest of the day, compared with the control group. If repeated every day for a month, this might result in around 1kg of weight loss.
In another study, in which 175 obese people took apple cider vinegar every day for 12 weeks, participants lost between 1.2kg and 1.7kg in weight and reduced their waist circumference by around 2cm.
Preclinical studies suggest that apple cider vinegar can lower total cholesterol levels by 34 per cent, bad LDL-cholesterol by 59 per cent and triglyceride levels by 51 per cent, while increasing good HDL-cholesterol by 39 per cent – all within a month.
Provisional findings suggest that apple cider vinegar may lower blood pressure through its effect on renin, an enzyme involved in blood pressure control. However, more studies are needed to confirm this.
Apple cider vinegar stabilises carbohydrate, slowing its breakdown in the gut, which in turn reduces the rise in blood glucose levels after eating by as much as 55 per cent.
How much should I take?
Traditionally, a dose of 10ml to 30ml of apple cider vinegar diluted in water and taken before a meal may help digestion and weight loss. Look for organic, unfiltered, unprocessed apple cider vinegar, which is cloudy, for the greatest health benefits, or consider a supplement.
Available forms: Liquid vinegar, tablets and capsules.
Watchpoints: Vinegar can erode teeth, so rinse your mouth with plain water after drinking. Taking it in tablet or capsule form overcomes this problem. Check with your GP for possible interactions with other medicines.