Apple Cider Vinegar: Is it truly a Superfood or just a fad?
Seems like every time I walk into the health food store or gym I see these apple cider vinegar (ACV) wellness shots, pills and elixirs. I go on Pinterest or Instagram and ACV is pushed as a cure-all for almost anything ailing us. From bloating and indigestion to clearing up my skin and boosting my metabolism.
Does ACV have all the benefits it’s touted for? Let’s see what the science says!
As the name would suggest apple cider vinegar is made from apples. All of it. Cores peels, flesh are combined with yeast to begin the fermenting process. It’s basically a two-step process that works like this: yeast is breaks down the sugars in the apples and turns it into alcohol – this is the fermentation. The bacteria produced during this fermentation process breaks down further into something called acetic acid.
Acetic acid is the active ingredient that is found in all types of vinegar and is what gives it it’s unique sour taste and smell. The studies say it’s the acetic acid that gives ACV so many natural health benefits. (1)
This acetic acid has been used to prevent harmful bacteria from growing and multiplying. It has been used in natural medicine dating back to 6000 years ago to treat the plague. (2)
Ok so if this is fact, why can’t I just get the benefits from other types of vinegar like ones I may put on my salad? What makes apple cider vinegar so special?
Apples are a healthy food!
So it would make sense that vinegar made from these would also be nutritious. While it may be true that vinegar made from apples has more antioxidants and minerals that the other types of vinegar which are made from distilled grains the thing that sets these part is something called “The mother.”
The mother? What? Have you ever picked up a bottle of this stuff in raw or unfiltered form and you see the stuff floating near the bottom? This is “the mother” or as I like to call it “the good stuff.” It’s a ball of acetic acid, fiber, enzymes and bacteria and it gives ACV it’s signature cloudy appearance. (3)
Health Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar (as backed by science)
Powerful Antibacterial Properties
Acetic acid is powerful enough to kill the bacteria that can cause tuberculosis. This is one of the most difficult types of bacteria to destroy. They are very disinfectant-resistant bacteria. (4)
Promotes Natural Weight Loss
This is quite a lofty claim. If ACV alone was enough to melt the fat away that I accumulated at Thanksgiving I’d be lying. However, the acetic acid can help us balance our blood sugars. Balanced blood sugars can promote gradual body weight loss. (I should know, I’m a type 1 diabetic)
One of the studies showed that it could help reduce the body’s insulin response to refined carbohydrates (that means less of a spike followed by a crash). This is one of the primary mechanisms that trigger fat storage. Reduce the insulin response reduce the fat. Get it now? (5)
Manage Sugar Cravings
One of the reasons we get intense sugar cravings because of blood sugar spikes and crashes. This can happen when we eat a refined carbohydrate (sugar sweetened juices, white bread, white rice). If you consume apple cider vinegar before meals you may prevent these sugar cravings through the day.
The research shows that apple cider vinegar has powerful antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties which make it a great natural remedy during cold and flu season (it’s here now!). (6)Digestion
ACV does contain pectin which is a type of fibre that acts as a prebiotic and keeps your digestive system healthy. Some also swear by using it to help soothe acid reflux and to aid with protein digestion before heavy meals. No more food babies! (7)
When we look at the data we can conclude that ACV does have some real benefits when used effectively. Not all vinegars are created equal. For the full benefits we need to seek out the "good stuff." If you find the liquid a little too harsh you can water it down. If that doesn't work for you, it's available in pill form. When we combine this with a proper diet and exercise we can more easily shed that excessive fat.