- Apple cider vinegar is essentially just fermented juice, and the primary ingredient associated with its health benefits — acetic acid — is in all kinds of vinegar.
- Research suggests that apple cider vinegar can help lower your blood sugar after a meal.
- If you use it to rinse your hair, it might kill some of the microbes that make your hair stink and lead to dandruff.
- Nearly all other benefits you hear about, from curing yeast infections to whitening your teeth, aren’t supported by scientific research.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Following is a transcript of the video.
Benji Jones: Wait, how zoomed-in are you? The internet is good for many things, but providing trusted advice on natural remedies is definitely not one of them, especially when it comes to apple cider vinegar. A quick Google search will show you that people use it for everything from cleaning their teeth to curing yeast infections. So if people on the internet are doing it, it’s worth trying, right? Definitely wrong. Because not only is there little evidence to support most of the uses for apple cider vinegar, but some of them are straight-up bad for you. Apple cider vinegar is basically just fermented juice. Yeast turns the sugars in apple juice into alcohol, and bacteria then turns that alcohol into acetic acid, the chemical linked to most of cider vinegar’s alleged benefits. But here’s the thing: This process isn’t unique to apple cider vinegar. In fact, acetic acid is in all types of vinegar, from white wine to balsamic. The main thing that makes cider vinegar different is that it might be easier to swallow than a straight-up swig of balsamic. And if you are so inclined to gulp it down, there’s at least one benefit you can look forward to. Research shows that drinking cider vinegar after a meal may help lower your blood-sugar levels.
Edwin McDonald: So studies have demonstrated that when people eat a high-starch meal and follow it with a little bit of apple cider vinegar, the blood sugars after eating those meals may not go up as much compared to when you eat placebo.
Jones: That’s doctor and trained chef Edwin McDonald. He says that ingesting as little as 20 grams of apple cider vinegar has been shown to slow the release of food from your stomach into your intestines. That’s where your body breaks down starches like pasta into sugars, and as a result…
McDonald: You’re not gonna absorb those sugars as quickly. So when you don’t absorb sugars as quickly, your insulin levels really don’t rise as much, and your blood sugar doesn’t rise as much.
Jones: And that’s great news for anyone who’s diabetic or pre-diabetic. Now, despite what you read online, it probably won’t help you lose weight.
McDonald: I also run a weight-management clinic, and this question comes up all the time.
Jones: But lowering your blood sugar after a meal is just about the only benefit of drinking apple cider vinegar. Research does suggest that acetic acid can slow down the accumulation of body fat and prevent metabolic disorders in mice and rats. But there’s little evidence that it has the same effect on humans. In one weight-loss experiment, 30 volunteers drank two tablespoons of either apple cider vinegar, malt vinegar, or a placebo drink, twice a day, for two months straight, and none of them lost weight. In an older study with a similar design, participants did lose weight, but only about a third of a pound each week, which McDonald says isn’t much. But if not for weight loss, what about using cider vinegar to whiten your teeth?
McDonald: I caution people against that.
Jones: That’s because cider vinegar is an acid. In fact, most brands have a pH between 2 and 3, which is similar to stomach acid, so swishing it around in your mouth can over time wear down the enamel around your teeth, leaving them feeling rough to the touch and more susceptible to cavities and decay. Yikes. Then there are the people who use apple cider vinegar as a shampoo replacement. And as it turns out, there’s actually a pretty good reason for that. Because cider vinegar is so acidic, Dr. McDonald says it can kill some of the microbes that make your hair stink, and it can also limit the population of a type of fungus that can lead to dandruff. But there’s a flip side. Because cider vinegar is so acidic, it can also burn or irritate your scalp. So you should always dilute it with water. Oh, and despite what you read online, cider vinegar is not effective against head lice. In fact, one study found that among six home remedies that people use to eliminate lice, like olive oil and mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar is the least effective. None of them worked though. The claims of what apple cider vinegar can do don’t stop there. Just keep in mind that at least for now, none of them is supported by a large body of scientific research. Now, of course, we’re not talking about taste. When it comes to cooking, there’s no uncertainty: Apple cider vinegar is delicious. I use it all the time when making dressing, pickles, and sauces. Yes, I cook. I just don’t walk away from meals thinking I’ve just swallowed some ultimate cure-all.