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Does Apple Cider Vinegar Live Up to the Hype?

Apple cider vinegar, a fermented juice made from crushed apples, has been touted to help with weight loss, heart disease, bacterial infections and digestive issues. Some alternative medicine practitioners even recommend a spoonful of apple cider vinegar daily.

But does it really work?

At this time, there is not enough evidence to back up any of the claims made about cider vinegar. A 2008 study conducted with normal and diabetic rats found that apple cider vinegar lowered their LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides (blood fat), and increased HDL (good) cholesterol. The researchers concluded that apple cider vinegar may be useful to help manage complication from diabetes, including heart disease.

Although that evidence appears promising, another study published in 2011 found that apple cider vinegar increased both the good and bad cholesterol in rats compared to those that were not given apple cider vinegar. The mixed results show that more research is needed to figure out the true effects of apple cider vinegar.

That said, apple cider vinegar does contain good-for-you nutrients like pectins, and small amounts of vitamin C, thiamin, riboflavin, folate, potassium, calcium, iron and magnesium.

What's more, adding apple cider vinegar to your diet is pretty low risk. There are really no side effects of consuming a spoonful a day, but taking in too much over time has potential health issues. A 1998 case study, for instance, found a woman in her 20s who had taken apple cider vinegar for six years experienced low potassium levels, which can affect muscles, including the heart. Although this is a pretty extreme case, it's worth being aware of the finding that more apple cider vinegar isn't necessarily better.

[See: 8 Food Combinations to Embrace (and 3 to Avoid).]

Still an apple cider vinegar believer? I won't stop you from adding it to your diet, but take my word for it that doing so by swallowing a straight spoonful is disgusting. If you choose to consume it, make it a delicious part of your healthy eating plan instead. For example, you might try one of these drinks containing apple cider vinegar:

  • LIVE Sparkling Vinegar Drinks: These tasty beverages come in flavors like grape, tart cherry, blueberry and ginger. They contain 2 tablespoons of vinegar, 15 calories and 2 to 3 grams of sugar per 12-ounce bottle.
  • Suja Drinking Vinegars: These beverages with a strong vinegar flavor come in flavors like peach ginger, grapefruit jalapeno, ginger turmeric and blueberry lemon. A 13.5-ounce bottle of the strawberry balsamic variety contains 30 calories and 5 grams of sugar.

[See: The Best Spices for Your Health.]

Drinks not your style? You can easily add apple cider vinegar to your healthy eating plan. Here are five ways you can incorporate it into delicious dishes:

  • In a salad dressing: Combine apple cider vinegar, a touch of honey, salt and black pepper with olive, grapeseed or canola oil. Use over a green salad or in a slaw made from apples, broccoli or cabbage.
  • In a marinade: Apple cider is perfect in marinades for beef, salmon, chicken and pork. The acidity of the vinegar helps tenderize the protein and makes the meat tasty.
  • In a cocktail or mocktail: Combine 100-percent apple juice, a touch of apple cider vinegar, and agave or honey for a mocktail. You can also make an apple cider hot toddy using vinegar as an ingredient.
  • In baked goods: Add apple cider vinegar to baked dishes that contain apples, like the filling of an apple pie or crumble, or in muffin, pancake and baked doughnut batters.

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