Studies have found that acetic acid, which is found in apple cider vinegar, can help keep control blood sugar levels by inhibiting the enzymes that aid in starch digestion. The popular vinegar may even help lower triglycerides. Learn how apple cider vinegar may help improve the flavor of your food and boost your health.

Jamie Vespa MS, RD
January 10, 2017

Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is gaining esteem in the nutrition world. It's touted as a healing elixir with the capability to improve blood sugar control, increase metabolism, and even promote weight loss. In fact, a simple Google search for ACV will reveal a wealth of information that could make you believe this kitchen pantry staple is the key to health and longevity. However, like most touted “superfoods,” most of the vinegar’s nutrition claims to fame have little research to back them up. Still, several legitimate studies surround some of the benefits, so let’s take a deeper look.

ACV is used frequently to add a bright punch of flavor to salad dressings, cocktails, vegetables, sauces, and more. ACV aficionados may even drink it straight or diluted with water first thing in the morning as a means to “detoxify” and kick start the metabolism for the day. Though before you go taking an ambitious sunrise swig, it’s important to understand the rationale behind the metabolic effects of ACV.

The Science Behind Apple Cider Vinegar

Studies have found that acetic acid, which is found in apple cider vinegar, can help keep control blood sugar levels by inhibiting the enzymes that aid in starch digestion. When starch is not completely digested, the glycemic response (spike in blood sugar) will be lessened. This effect is more moderate when a fiber-rich meal is consumed because the glycemic index is lower to begin with. What’s more, the undigested starch may even have a prebiotic effect and provide some good bacteria for your gut. A healthy gut microbiome can help support digestion, immunity, and even brain function.

ACV may even help lower triglycerides. In the same cycle that controls the body’s response to starch, the rate of lipogenesis (or the formation of fat) and triglycerides (a key player in heart disease) is also decreased.

It’s important to note that the active starch-inhibiting ingredient in vinegar is acetic acid, which is in all vinegars. ACV may be more pleasant to drink in elixirs or add to recipes, though ACV is not necessarily nutritionally superior to other vinegars. If you are drinking ACV, it is not recommended to take it straight. It is a potent acid that can irritate the tender tissues of the mouth and throat. Try diluting ACV with 6 to 8 ounces of warm water and drinking it before eating your first meal of the day.

Photo: Squire Fox

Our Favorite Ways to Use Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple Cider Vinaigrette - Quick and convenient, this vinaigrette comes together in fiver minutes and is healthier than store-bought dressings.
Roasted Cider-Brined Pork with Tomato Chutney – Robustly flavorful and a stunning main course.
Cider-Braised Cabbage - A fast and delicious side to add to your weeknight meals.
Braised Kale with Bacon and Cider - A suitable side for roast chicken or pork.

Bottom Line: Apple cider vinegar is not a magic cure-all for weight loss or treating health ailments. However, studies in both animals and humans support the relationship between acetic acid (found in ACV) and blood sugar control. Combined with the ability to possibly lower triglycerides and improve gut health, we fully support the inclusion of this delightfully tangy vinegar in the diet.

Article Resources
http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/27/1/281.full
https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/bbb/71/5/71_60668/_pdf