Quantcast

Is Apple Cider Vinegar Good for You? A Doctor Weighs In

Health + Wellness
ddukang / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Gabriel Neal

When my brother and I were kids back in the '80s, we loved going to Long John Silver's.


But it wasn't just for the fish.

It was for the vinegar—malt vinegar. We would uncap a bottle at the table and swig that tangy, delicious nectar of the gods straight.

Are most of you repulsed? Probably. Were we way ahead of our time? Apparently.

Some social media and online searches would have us believe that drinking vinegar is a cure-all. Our friends and colleagues will regale us with stories of the healing power of apple cider vinegar for whatever problem we may have just mentioned. "Oh, that backache from mowing? Vinegar." "That last 10 pounds? Vinegar will melt that right off." "Syphilis, again? You know it—vinegar."

As a practicing physician and professor of medicine, people ask me about the benefits of drinking apple cider vinegar all the time. I enjoy those moments, because we can talk about the (extensive) history of vinegar, and then distill the conversations to how it could, maybe, benefit them.

A cure for colds, the plague and obesity?

Historically, vinegar has been used for many ailments. A few examples are that of the famous Greek physician Hippocrates, who recommended vinegar for the treatment of cough and colds, and that of the Italian physician Tommaso Del Garbo, who, during an outbreak of plague in 1348, washed his hands, face and mouth with vinegar in the hopes of preventing infection.

Vinegar and water has been a refreshing drink from the time of Roman soldiers to modern athletes who drink it to slake their thirst. Ancient and modern cultures the world over have found good uses for "sour wine."

While there is plenty of historical and anecdotal testimony to the virtues of vinegar, what does medical research have to say on the subject of vinegar and health?

The most reliable evidence for the health benefits of vinegar come from a few humans studies involving apple cider vinegar. One study demonstrated that apple cider vinegar can improve after-meal blood glucose levels in insulin-resistant subjects. In 11 people who were "pre-diabetic," drinking 20 milliliters, a little more than one tablespoon, of apple cider vinegar lowered their blood sugar levels 30-60 minutes after eating more than a placebo did. That's good—but it was only demonstrated in 11 pre-diabetic people.

Another study on obese adults demonstrated a significant reduction in weight, fat mass and triglycerides. Researchers selected 155 obese Japanese adults to ingest either 15 ml, about one tablespoon, or 30 ml, a little more than two tablespoons, of vinegar daily, or a placebo drink, and followed their weight, fat mass and triglycerides. In both the 15 ml and 30 ml group, researchers saw a reduction in all three markers. While these studies need confirmation by larger studies, they are encouraging.

Studies in animals, mostly rats, show that vinegar can potentially reduce blood pressure and abdominal fat cells. These help build the case for followup studies in humans, but any benefit claims based only on animal studies is premature.

In all, the health benefits we suspect vinegar has need to be confirmed by larger human studies, and this will certainly happen as researchers build on what has been studied in humans and animals to date.

Is there any harm in it?

Is there any evidence that vinegar is bad for you? Not really. Unless you are drinking excessive amounts of it (duh), or drinking a high acetic acid concentration vinegar such as distilled white vinegar used for cleaning (consumable vinegar's acetic acid content is only 4 to 8 percent), or rubbing it in your eyes (ouch!), or heating it in a lead vat as the Romans did to make it sweet. Then, yeah, that's unhealthy.

Also, don't heat any kind of food in lead vats. That's always bad.

So have your fish and chips and vinegar. It's not hurting you. It may not be doing you all the good that you're hoping that it will; and it certainly is not a cure-all. But it is something that people all over the world will be enjoying with you. Now raise high that bottle of malt vinegar with me, and let's drink to our health.

Reposted with permission from our media associate The Conversation.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Fabian Krause / EyeEm / Getty Images

By Elizabeth Streit, MS, RDN, LD

Paprika is a spice made from the dried peppers of the plant Capsicum annuum.

Read More Show Less
Water protectors of all persuasions gathered in talking circles at Borderland Ranch in Pe'Sla, the heart of the sacred Black Hills, during the first Sovereign Sisters Gathering. At the center are Cheryl Angel in red and white and on her left, Lyla June. Tracy Barnett

By Tracy L. Barnett

Sources reviewed this article for accuracy.

For Sicangu Lakota water protector Cheryl Angel, Standing Rock helped her define what she stands against: an economy rooted in extraction of resources and exploitation of people and planet. It wasn't until she'd had some distance that the vision of what she stands for came into focus.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Hedges, 2019 © Hugh Hayden. All photos courtesy of Lisson Gallery

By Patrick Rogers

"I'm really into trees," said the sculptor Hugh Hayden. "I'm drawn to plants."

Read More Show Less
BruceBlock / iStock / Getty Images

By Jillian Kubala, MS, RD

Thanks to their high concentration of powerful plant compounds, foods with a natural purple hue offer a wide array of health benefits.

Read More Show Less
Environmental Investigation Agency

By Genevieve Belmaker

Last week, the Peruvian Palm Oil Producers' Association (JUNPALMA) promised to enter into an agreement for sustainable and deforestation-free palm oil production. The promise was secured by the U.S. based National Wildlife Federation (NWF) in collaboration with the local government, growers and the independent conservation organization Sociedad Peruana de Ecodesarrollo.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Jessica Kourkounis / Stringer

The rallying cry to build it again and to build it better than before is inspiring after a natural disaster, but it may not be the best course of action, according to new research published in the journal Science.

"Faced with global warming, rising sea levels, and the climate-related extremes they intensify, the question is no longer whether some communities will retreat—moving people and assets out of harm's way—but why, where, when, and how they will retreat," the study begins.

The researchers suggest that it is time to rethink retreat, which is often seen as a last resort and a sign of weakness. Instead, it should be seen as the smart option and an opportunity to build new communities.

"We propose a reconceptualization of retreat as a suite of adaptation options that are both strategic and managed," the paper states. "Strategy integrates retreat into long-term development goals and identifies why retreat should occur and, in doing so, influences where and when."

The billions of dollars spent to rebuild the Jersey Shore and to create dunes to protect from future storms after Superstorm Sandy in 2012 may be a waste if sea level rise inundates the entire coastline.

"There's a definite rhetoric of, 'We're going to build it back better. We're going to win. We're going to beat this. Something technological is going to come and it's going to save us,'" said A.R. Siders, an assistant professor with the disaster research center at the University of Delaware and lead author of the paper, to the New York Times. "It's like, let's step back and think for a minute. You're in a fight with the ocean. You're fighting to hold the ocean in place. Maybe that's not the battle we want to pick."

Rethinking retreat could make it a strategic, efficient, and equitable way to adapt to the climate crisis, the study says.

Dr. Siders pointed out that it has happened before. She noted that in the 1970s, the small town of Soldiers Grove, Wisconsin moved itself out of the flood plain after one too many floods. The community found and reoriented the business district to take advantage of highway traffic and powered it entirely with solar energy, as the New York Times reported.

That's an important lesson now that rising sea levels pose a catastrophic risk around the world. Nearly 75 percent of the world's cities are along shorelines. In the U.S. alone coastline communities make up nearly 40 percent of the population— more than 123 million people, which is why Siders and her research team are so forthright about the urgency and the complexities of their findings, according to Harvard Magazine.

Some of those complexities include, coordinating moves across city, state or even international lines; cultural and social considerations like the importance of burial grounds or ancestral lands; reparations for losses or damage to historic practices; long-term social and psychological consequences; financial incentives that often contradict environmental imperatives; and the critical importance of managing retreat in a way that protects vulnerable and poor populations and that doesn't exacerbate past injustices, as Harvard Magazine reported.

If communities could practice strategic retreats, the study says, doing so would not only reduce the need for people to choose among bad options, but also improve their circumstances.

"It's a lot to think about," said Siders to Harvard Magazine. "And there are going to be hard choices. It will hurt—I mean, we have to get from here to some new future state, and that transition is going to be hard.…But the longer we put off making these decisions, the worse it will get, and the harder the decisions will become."

To help the transition, the paper recommends improved access to climate-hazard maps so communities can make informed choices about risk. And, the maps need to be improved and updated regularly, the paper said as the New York Times reported.


"It's not that everywhere should retreat," said Dr. Siders to the New York Times. "It's that retreat should be an option. It should be a real viable option on the table that some places will need to use."

Pixabay

By Manuella Libardi

Leaked documents show that Jair Bolsonaro's government intends to use the Brazilian president's hate speech to isolate minorities living in the Amazon region. The PowerPoint slides, which democraciaAbierta has seen, also reveal plans to implement predatory projects that could have a devastating environmental impact.

Read More Show Less
XL CATLIN SEAVIEW SURVEY / THE OCEAN AGENCY

Hope may be on the horizon for the world's depleted coral reefs thanks to scientists who successfully reproduced endangered corals in a laboratory setting for the first time, according to Reuters.

Read More Show Less