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How Healthy Is Apple Cider Vinegar, Really?

It's said to decrease the number you see on the scale and your high cholesterol. Here, we reveal if it lives up to its claims.
Pour apple cider vinegar

If you've ever wondered if a particular food truly deserves its nutritional crown or been skeptical about the dangers of certain dietary demons, Eat This, Not That! has answers to all your questions. In each installment of How Good or Bad Is It, Really? we get to the bottom of the nutrition claims you've always been a bit hesitant to accept.

Today, we explore the supposed health benefits of apple cider vinegar with the help of dietitian nutritionist Gina Consalvo, MA, RD, LDN.

Referred to as ACV by healthy foodies, apple cider vinegar is a common ingredient in marinades and salad dressing. To make it, apple juice is fermented with bacteria and yeast, which converts the sugars to alcohol. After you have alcohol, acetic acid-forming bacteria are then added, which convert the alcohol into vinegar.

You'll often see that apple cider vinegar is sold unfiltered "with the mother." This means that the bacteria and yeast cultures are left in the vinegar. This sediment is rich in proteins, enzymes, and gut-friendly bacteria.

What are the claims?

But beyond its culinary uses, the amber-colored vinegar has been credited with a myriad of benefits of apple cider vinegar. They include decreasing everything from high cholesterol to boosting weight loss. But what does science have to say?

Research published in the journal Bioscience, Biotechnology, Biochemistry found that a small pool of study participants given ACV over a 12-week period lost more weight, body fat and inches from their middle than participants that were given a placebo.

While the results were not partially dramatic (they only lost about a pound), the participants were not given an exercise or diet regimen to follow, which would have helped them shed some additional weight.

Promising animal studies have also found that the elixir can ward off the lipids that collect in the blood and contribute to high cholesterol. Research has yet to be conducted in humans to confirm these findings.

Is apple cider vinegar healthy?

The bottom line? The best way to lose weight is a common sense combination of diet and exercise. However, Consalvo notes that ACV may indeed aid weight loss efforts. "As long as you don't have a problem tolerating acidic foods, there is no harm in adding an ACV regimen to your weight loss plan," she adds.

How to add apple cider vinegar to your diet.

To get in on the trend, Consalvo recommends mixing one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar with eight ounces of water and slugging it back once a day before sitting down to eat.

To reap the most benefits, consume the cocktail with your most carbohydrate-rich meal. Insulin and blood-sugar levels typically spike after a carb-heavy meal, but apple cider vinegar may help counteract that, boosting satiety and helping weight loss efforts, notes Consalvo.

Word to the wise: Since consuming too much acetic acid can irritate your throat or interact with certain supplements and medications, consult with your primary care physician or dietitian before adding ACV to your diet, advises Consalvo.

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