When it comes to edible remedies, apple cider vinegar (ACV) has a cult-like following. Message boards and questionable "expert" articles abound with claims that this kitchen staple made from fermented apple juice is packed with fibre and nutrients and can help cure just about anything, from sugar cravings to acid reflux to diabetes to cancer to constipation.
Sounds great, right? The bad news: Many of these apple cider vinegar claims are totally unfounded. Turns out, good old ACV contains little to no fibre, vitamins, and minerals, and it's not been proven as a cure-all for most conditions.
But there are several claims for apple cider vinegar that studies do back up. First, it can help you absorb more nutrients from food, but that's true whether you slug apple cider vinegar straight or add it to raw concoctions like salad dressings.
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Second, it can reduce blood sugar spikes after you eat, which, in turn, can help limit cravings and the likelihood you'll develop type 2 diabetes. In fact, one study found that consuming apple cider vinegar before meals reduced the blood glucose levels of patients with pre diabetes by nearly half.
Pretty cool, no doubt. But being a skeptic, I wanted to see for myself whether swigging a tablespoon of vinegar before meals would really banish my cravings and help me eat less. So I grabbed a bottle and here's what happened:
1. Downing apple cider vinegar on an empty stomach can make you queasy.
Maybe I drank it too fast, but after each glass of ACV-infused water, I felt like I'd just eaten something bad. Nothing crazy happened, but I had this uneasy sensation in my stomach, I burped a lot, and I felt like anything else I put down the hatch might end up coming right back up. So, yes, vinegar curbed my desire to eat, but not in a pleasant way.
2. Taking ACV after a meal works much better.
The whole pre-meal thing didn't work for me. After all, what was the point of feeling semi-nauseous and not wanting to eat before a healthy meal that you'd planned on eating? A better option, I found, was drinking it when I'd already eaten a meal but was still feeling hungry for more. Because I already had a base of food in my stomach, I avoided that queasy feeling, but the apple cider vinegar definitely helped reduce my desire to polish off some cookies.
3. ACV can help get things moving.
This was unexpected (and I'll spare you details), but there was a definite correlation between apple cider vinegar consumption and, well, let's call it decreased transit time. I could definitely see the appeal of using this as a gentle, natural laxative when things are backed up. Who knew?
4. You'll burn your esophagus unless you learn to drink apple cider vinegar the right way.
Don't take this stuff straight—it burns like fire (worse than vodka and with no pleasant buzz). Your best bet: Mix 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar with 8 oz of water, and then drink it with a straw to reduce contact with your taste buds. I found this method tolerable, although the taste was still slightly reminiscent of feet after a sweaty summer workout session.
Bottom line: While this experiment was enlightening and it did help curb cravings, I'm not making the apple cider vinegar-water blend part of my daily routine. Instead, I'll be more likely to use it periodically to quell a doughnut craving or if I'm constipated. And I'm definitely all about using it in healthy homemade dressings to get more nutrients out of all my salad veggies.