The apple cider vinegar diet: another “New Year New You” classic. Drink a couple of teaspoons of apple cider vinegar before a meal to witness miraculous weight loss without dieting! Alongside the usual detox hokum. What’s the evidence though and are there any risks?
I presume I don’t need to go into the pointlessness of detox products when you possess a functioning liver and pair of kidneys? Right? Good. So let’s look at the weight loss data. A 2009 randomised controlled study of overweight individuals in Japan, receiving either placebo or low or high doses of vinegar (not specifically apple cider) showed that, after 12 weeks, there was a modest reduction in weight of 1-2kg and a slight improvement in blood lipid profile. That difference is statistically relevant but physiologically? 2-4 pounds in 3 months? It’s hardly groundbreaking.
Another study showed that vinegar could promote satiety (fullness) after a meal. By making people feel sick. Really? You want to eat less by making yourself feel sick? Right.
Now, there may be some evidence that vinegar, again, not specifically apple cider vinegar, may reduce blood sugar spikes in those with pre-diabetes, by blocking starch absorption but the weight loss data is far from convincing. And if you’re going to start using vinegar to manage your type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes then PLEASE speak to a dietitian or doctor first. Given the potential ability of vinegar to influence insulin levels, you have to be very careful how you use it – it is not a harmless practice.
Are there any other risks? Well, unless it’s in a delicious dressing or marinade (in which case, knock yourself out, you culinary geniuses) it tastes DISGUSTING. It’s also acidic so long term use can cause dental erosion, even if you dilute it in water. It is also suggested that vinegar may reduce potassium levels which is a risk for those on anti-hypertensive medication.
In conclusion, the benefits of (apple cider) vinegar, beyond its culinary uses, are at best equivocal and at worst can have health risks so do yourself a favour and save your teeth.