Vinegar folklore is as colorful as it is practical. Legend states that a courtier in Babylonia (c. 5000 BC) “discovered” wine, formed from unattended grape juice, leading to the eventual discovery of vinegar and its use as a food preservative.
- Hippocrates (c. 420 BC) used vinegar medicinally to manage wounds. Hannibal of Carthage (c. 200 BC), the great military leader and strategist, used vinegar to dissolve boulders that blocked his army’s path.
- Cleopatra (c. 50 BC) dissolved precious pearls in vinegar and offered her love potion to Anthony.
- Sung Tse, the 10th century creator of forensic medicine, advocated hand washing with sulfur and vinegar to avoid infection during autopsies.
- Based on the writings of US medical practitioners dating to the late 18th century, many ailments, from dropsy to poison ivy, croup, and stomachache, were treated with vinegar, and,
- Before the production and marketing of hypoglycemic agents, vinegar “teas” were commonly consumed by diabetics to help manage their chronic aliment.
The above was taken from the Abstract of the study titled “Vinegar: Medicinal Uses and Antiglycemic Effect.”
For centuries, vinegar has been used for various household and cooking purposes, as well as for medicinal purposes. The most popular vinegar in the health community is Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV). Some of it’s known and proven health benefits include weight loss, lower blood sugar levels and improved symptoms of diabetes.
6 Evidence-based health benefits of ACV
1. High in acetic acid
Acetic acid has potent biological effects because it contains strands of proteins, enzymes and friendly bacteria. Good quality apple cider vinegar also contains some amino acids and antioxidants.
2. Kills many types of bacteria
All types of vinegars have traditionally been used for cleaning and disinfecting, treating nail fungus, lice, warts and ear infections. Vinegar has also been used as a food preservative, and studies show that it inhibits bacteria (like E. coli) from growing in food and causing spoilage.
3. Lowers blood sugar levels and fights Type II diabetes
which is the most successful medicinal application of vinegar to date. Type 2 diabetes is characterized by elevated blood sugars, either in the context of insulin resistance or an inability to produce insulin. Even if you don’t have type II diabetes, elevated blood sugars have been implicated in causing faster aging and various chronic diseases.
The most effective way to keep blood sugars low is to avoid refined carbs and sugar, but apple cider vinegar can also play a powerful supporting role.
Vinegar has been shown to have numerous benefits for insulin function and blood sugar levels:
- Improves insulin sensitivity during a high-carb meal by 19-34% and significantly lowers blood glucose and insulin responses
- Reduces blood sugar by 34% when eating 50 grams of white bread
- 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar before bedtime can reduce fasting blood sugars by 4%
A study published in the Diabetes journal compared the effects of apple cider vinegar on healthy adults, people with pre-diabetes, and people with type 2 diabetes. Study participants in all three groups had better blood glucose readings when they consumed less than an ounce of apple cider vinegar with a high-carb meal (a white bagel with butter and orange juice), compared to when they had the same meal and drank a placebo. People with pre-diabetes improved their blood glucose levels with vinegar by nearly half, while people with diabetes cut their blood glucose concentrations by 25%.
4. Weight Loss Aid by helping with Satiety
Several human studies suggest that vinegar can increase satiety, help you eat fewer calories and even lead to actual pounds lost on the scale, by increasing feelings of fullness.
Japanese scientists conducted a double-blind trial on obese adults with similar body weights and waist measurements in 2009. They divided the participants into three groups. Every day for 12 weeks, one group drank a beverage containing half an ounce of apple cider vinegar. Another group drank a beverage with one ounce of apple cider vinegar. And the third group had a drink containing no vinegar at all. At the end of the study, the people who drank one of the beverages with vinegar had less belly fat, lower triglycerides and waist measurements, and a lower body weight and BMI, compared to the no-vinegar group.
However, ACV should be considered a part of the whole enchilada – it’s the entire diet/lifestyle that counts… you need to combine several effective methods to see results.
5. Lowers cholesterol
Rat studies have shown that apple cider vinegar can lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels through an antioxidant called chlorogenic acid, which has been shown to protect LDL cholesterol particles from becoming oxidized, a crucial step in the heart disease process. There is on human observational study from Harvard that shows that women who ate salad dressings with vinegar had a reduced risk of heart disease.
6. ACV may have protective effects against cancer.
Several studies have shown that vinegar can kill cancer cells and shrink tumors, but many of these were not done on human subjects. There are, however, some observational studies that suggest that is linked to decreased esophageal cancer in China. Honestly, the jury is still out on this benefit but it is possible.
There are a ton of claims on the internet about the benefits of ACV. Not all of them are supported by science and even some of the 6 presented above are slightly weak. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s not worth experimenting with. Who knows? It may work brilliantly for your genetic make-up, and the truth is that there are some proven benefits. And ACV is safe – there are no known side effects with normal consumption.
What is the best way to start incorporating it into your diet?
- Salad dressing. This is exactly what I do.2 TBSP of olive oil and 2 TBSP of ACV with a dash of salt.That’s it.Super simple and way healthier than EVERY commercial salad dressing found in the supermarket.
- Drink it. I know that sounds gross, and admittedly, it’s an acquired taste…LOL….I take a shot glass of it every night, just before dinner. It’s not that bad. If you want to try it, you might want to start by diluting it with some water. Start with 1 TBSP of vinegar.
For more than 2000 years, vinegar has been used to flavor and preserve foods, heal wounds, fight infections, clean surfaces, and manage diabetes. Many recent scientific investigations have documented that vinegar ingestion reduces the glucose response to a carbohydrate load in healthy adults and in individuals with diabetes. There is also some evidence that vinegar ingestion increases short-term satiety. Vinegar is widely available, is affordable and, as a remedy, it is appealing.