There are countless claims on the Internet about seemingly miraculous health benefits of apple cider vinegar consumption, but is it all true? I hit the research journals to separate fact from fiction and proven claims from the Internet-sustained urban myths.
I discovered that apple cider vinegar has many beneficial properties but most of the claims floating around in cyberspace are unfounded in research. Here are some of the evidence-based health benefits of incorporating apple cider vinegar into your daily diet:
Improve Insulin Sensitivity in Diabetes
Several studies demonstrate vinegar’s ability to improve insulin sensitivity and lower blood sugar responses when eaten as part of meals or taken before bedtime, which may offer help in the treatment of diabetes. Here are links to a few of the studies, if you’re interested in learning more: Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism, European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, another European Journal of Clinical Nutrition study, and Diabetes Care.
Regulate Blood Chemistry in Diabetics
Improving insulin sensitivity isn’t the only way apple cider vinegar appears to help diabetics. It has been shown to help normalize other aspects of blood chemistry as well. Research showed that apple cider vinegar helped regulate blood chemistry of diabetic animals fed the vinegar as part of their regular diet for four weeks.
Killing E. Coli on Produce
The Journal of Food Protection assessed the effects of spraying various solutions on lettuce inoculated with E. coli. While the apple cider vinegar did not kill the E. coli completely, it helped to reduce the numbers of the bacteria linked with food poisoning yet did not affect the taste of the lettuce or its crispness.
Regulate Effects of Dietary Cholesterol
In a study published in the Journal of Membrane Biology, researchers studied the effects of a high cholesterol diet on animals fed apple cider vinegar versus animals that only ate the high cholesterol diet. They found that the apple cider vinegar exerted a protective effect on the liver and kidneys, among other protective benefits.
Aids Weight Loss
While there are conflicting studies about apple cider vinegar’s effects on obesity and weight loss, according to research in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, apple cider vinegar can help reduce the number of calories eaten at a meal by between 200 and 275. Additional study results published in the journal Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry also showed that vinegar helped with weight loss in obese individuals.
Its Chlorogenic Acid May Help with Heart Disease
Apple cider vinegar contains the nutrient, chlorogenic acid which, according to the journal Biochemical Pharmacology, helps prevent LDL cholesterol, also known as the “bad cholesterol” from oxidizing, which is an important step in the progression of heart disease.
Reduce Bacteria in Oral Infections
A study published in the journal Oral Surgery, Oral Medicine, Oral Pathology, Oral Radiology and Endodontics found that apple cider vinegar demonstrated antibacterial activity against a bacteria known as E. faecalis, which can be linked to infection in root canals and elsewhere in the body.
There is a lot of internet hype about apple cider vinegar’s anti-cancer effects but at this point the research doesn’t really support it. While some studies showed anti-cancer effects of rice vinegar and sugar cane vinegar in laboratory settings, there is little research on apple cider vinegar and whether it has any anti-cancer effects. So, it may have anti-cancer effects, it might not. We’ll have to wait for the research to find out.
How to Benefit
Keep in mind that you should never drink apple cider vinegar undiluted. Always use it diluted in water or juice or mixed with oil in a salad dressing. The vinegar is an acid that can burn the delicate mucus membranes of the digestive tract. Most nutrition experts recommend choosing an unfiltered, unpasteurized apple cider vinegar with the “mother” left intact. This is the collection of beneficial microbes that convert apple cider into apple cider vinegar.
Make Your Own Apple Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is one of the staples in my home. I use it to preserve freshly-harvested herbs, to add flavor to soups, stews, tofu (organic, of course!), and salad dressings. With some olive oil and a teaspoon of crushed chilies and fresh or dried basil, I have an instant bread dip that is absolutely delicious.
While it is possible to buy apple cider vinegar from the local health food or grocery store, it is absolutely simple to make your own and there is no comparison when it comes to the taste of freshly-made apple cider vinegar. Making your own also allows you to control the level of acidity to sweetness that you simply cannot do with the store-bought varieties. Once you’ve made your first apple cider vinegar, you’ll probably understand why I insist on making my own.
Making any type of homemade fruit vinegar is as simple as mashing up fruit (which you can either do by hand or using a fruit masher), removing the pulp, bottling, and leaving it to sit until bacteria known as acetobacter convert the juice into vinegar.
You can either purchase apple cider or apple juice, if you prefer, in which case just skip the juicing step. Here’s how to get started making your own apple cider vinegar:
Save up any apples that are beyond their prime—not rotten ones of course, but pulpy or spongy apples that are no longer suitable for eating are great for making vinegar. Of course, you can use fresh apples that are absolutely perfect too but I find that making apple cider vinegar from older apples is the perfect way to use up older ones, without sending them to the compost bin. Push them through an electric juicer to make apple juice. If you don’t have a juicer, just cut the apples into quarters and puree in a food processor (you can leave the cores and skins on). Then, push the apple pulp through a muslin-lined sieve or muslin bag to remove the fiber from the juice.
Pour the juice into sterilized, dark, glass jugs or bottles without putting a lid on them. Cover the tops with a few layers of cheesecloth and hold in place with an elastic band. Store the bottles or jars in a cool, dark place for between 3 weeks to 6 months, depending on the level of tanginess you prefer in your apple cider vinegar. The longer the juice sits, the more acidic the vinegar will taste, while shorter times taste more like juice and only mildly like vinegar. Keep in mind that some alcohol may develop during the process, so if you use your vinegar early on in the fermentation cycle, it may actually taste more like apple cider wine than vinegar. Simply leave the apple juice/cider to ferment for a longer amount of time until the alcohol converts into acetic acid, which means it is now ready to use as vinegar.
If you purchased apple juice or apple cider, you can simply secure the cheesecloth over the top in place of the lid and store in a cook, dark place until it becomes vinegar.
You may notice a thick substance that forms on the top of the juice/vinegar. That’s the “mother” as it is known—the collection of bacteria that form in the juice that are responsible for converting it to vinegar. You can save the mother to use as a starter culture for the next batch of apple cider or other type of vinegar if you’d like. Using an existing mother helps to slightly speed up the process of making vinegar. Once you’re happy with the level of acidity simply cap the bottles and store until you are ready to use. Enjoy!
DR. MICHELLE SCHOFFRO COOK, PhD, DNM is a celebrity nutritionist and international best-selling and 20-time published book author whose works include: THE CULTURED COOK: Delicious Fermented Foods with Probiotics to Knock Out Inflammation, Boost Gut Health, Lose Weight, and Extend Your Life, 60 Seconds to Slim, The Probiotic Promise, and Boost Your Brain Power in 60 Seconds. Her work has been featured in Woman’s World, First for Women, Reader’s Digest Best Health, Health, Huffington Post, Reviews.com, WebMD, ThriveGlobal, and Care2.com. Learn more about her work at CulturedCook.com and DrMichelleCook.com.
Originally published at www.culturedcook.com