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Apple Cider Vinegar Claims Put to the Test

A quick Internet search for “apple cider vinegar” can leave you reeling with all its potential health benefits. From weight loss to allergy relief, this ingredient is reported to have a multitude of uses and benefits.

Although apple cider vinegar is getting most of the buzz, research on that specific product is scarce. There are many types of vinegar, all of which are produced through fermentation. The fermentation process forms acetic acid in the vinegar, which gives it the signature sharp flavor and odor, and may also be the key to vinegar’s benefits.  

“Vinegar is a versatile product that has a lot of uses, in the kitchen and out,” said Sally Mangum, DO, a resident physician at Samaritan’s Albany Internal Medicine Resident Clinic. “But sometimes that can be confused with being advantageous to your health.”

Mangum breaks down the supposed health benefits of vinegar and whether or not it really works:

Claim:  Vinegar Can Cure the Common Cold

False. Vinegar is a natural antibacterial agent but drinking it won’t kill your cold virus. For reliable cold relief Mangum recommends rest, a healthy diet and drinking plenty of water.

Claim:  Vinegar Contains Beneficial Bacteria for Gut Health

Maybe. Raw, unfiltered, unpasteurized apple cider vinegar with the “mother” is often advertised as containing beneficial bacteria. While apple cider vinegar does contain bacteria that can create beneficial short-chain fatty acids in the digestive tract, Mangum reports that there is no clinical evidence that apple cider vinegar is contributing to your gut health.

Claim:  Vinegar Helps with Weight Loss

False. Research published in the International Journal of Obesity found that participants who consumed vinegar before they ate had a reduced appetite, but it was because the vinegar made them feel nauseous. The researchers did not recommend it as a weight loss technique.  

Claim:  Vinegar Regulates Blood Sugar and Helps Control Diabetes

Maybe. According to Mangum, the effects of vinegar on blood glucose after fasting or having a meal have been favorable in several studies, but experts debate whether this translates to helping control diabetes.

Claim:  Vinegar Lowers Blood Pressure and Cholesterol

False, for now. Mangum reports that there have been no human studies that show a direct benefit on blood pressure or cholesterol when taking vinegar. However, the large-scale Nurses’ Health Study found that those who ate a salad with oil and vinegar dressing five or more times a week had a lower risk of ischemic heart disease.

Claim:  Vinegar Relieves Allergy Symptoms

False. Mangum reports there is no research that indicates vinegar helps with allergy symptoms.

“Overall, adding vinegar as a seasoning or preservative to food is tasty and there’s no harm in adding it to salad dressings, sauces or for dipping bread,” said Mangum. “There’s just not enough research yet to justify many of the other health claims.”

Many health trends come and go over the years, revisit our article, "Is Coconut Oil Really Good for You?"

Salad dressings using vinegar and oil are a great way to reduce calories. See the best oils to use for dressing and cooking.