Vinegar- especially apple cider vinegar- has long been said to have numerous health benefits. Claims range from being able to kill stubborn nail fungus, improving digestion, helping weight loss, and even preventing chronic diseases. Now, research is beginning to show that taking apple cider vinegar daily might be one of the keys to good health.
The typical dosage for vinegar is usually one or two tablespoons per day. Many people add it to juices or smoothies, or combine it with water and a tablespoon of honey. When taken daily, vinegar has the potential to help prevent or alleviate a wide range of problems.
1. Aiding Digestion
Vinegar’s acidity makes it helpful for people with other digestive issues, too. It increases the amount of acid in the stomach, which helps break down food. This makes it easier for the body to absorb nutrients. Unpasteurized (raw) vinegar is also a good source of probiotics which help intestinal health.
2. Relieving Acid Reflux
In the U.S. alone, doctors estimate that about 7 million people suffer from acid reflux. The medications typically used to treat reflux work by reducing the amount of acid the stomach produces, sometimes creating a host of side effects. Interestingly, many people who suffer from reflux get relief from taking vinegar. If you suffer from acid reflux symptoms, consider taking a tablespoon of vinegar and water after meals.
In another study, hypertensive rats given vinegar along with a standard lab diet had lower systolic blood pressure than rats given the same diet and water. This means that vinegar may be a healthy- and flavorful- addition to a heart-healthy diet.
4. Helping Healthy Blood Sugar Levels
In a 1988 study using rats, researchers found that vinegar can reduce the glycemic load of some foods when eaten at the same time. A food’s glycemic load is a measure of its impact on blood sugar- the lower, the less impact it has. This means that vinegar may be a valuable aid for people with diabetes, insulin resistance, or hypoglycemia when incorporated into their diets. Another study found that vinegar helps lower fasting glucose in people with type 2 diabetes.
5. Improving Skin
Vinegar isn’t just for inside the body- many people use it to combat breakouts of adult acne. The low pH helps break down dead skin cells and sebum, while also balancing skin’s pH. This helps keep pores clear and boost the growth of helpful skin bacteria, leading to fewer breakouts. Vinegar’s astringent effect also helps tighten loose skin and reduce the appearance of fine lines.
6. Fighting Tumors
In the same study cited above, researchers found that vinegar killed human leukemia cells in vitro. When rats with colon cancer genes were given Japanese rice vinegar, researchers noticed a drop in their development of cancer. In humans, researchers found that people in Linzhou, China, who regularly consumed vinegar had a lower risk of esophageal cancer.
For most people, vinegar is perfectly safe when eaten as part of a healthy diet. It should always be diluted, as it can cause burns to the throat if it is taken straight. It’s also best to avoid allowing vinegar to touch teeth- its acidic pH can damage tooth enamel. People with health conditions that impact their blood acidity should talk to a doctor before increasing their consumption of vinegar.
How to Choose Vinegar
When it comes to vinegar, clearer is not always better. Clear vinegars are typically heated and filtered to improve their appearance. This process removes or destroys some of the beneficial components of raw vinegar, like probiotics. For best results, look for cloudy, raw vinegar.
Vinegar has a long history of use as a condiment and medical treatment, so its safety is well documented. It’s flavorful, low in calories, sodium free, and goes with just about everything. With all of the evidence supporting vinegar’s health benefits, there’s no reason not to add it to your daily diet.