So-called health experts love to tout the health benefits of certain “superfoods” like apple cider vinegar. While many of these foods can indeed be nutritious, these broad health claims are often exaggerated or completely unsupported by science.
In recent years, apple cider vinegar fans have claimed that the superfood can boost weight loss efforts.
But is the link between this so-called superfood and weight loss a verifiable fact or just a myth? Here are the facts:
What’s the hype around apple cider vinegar?
Apple cider vinegar is made from fermented apple sugars. For decades, people have proclaimed that apple cider vinegar is a magic elixir with a range of health benefits. Those supposed health benefits include:
- It helps keep blood sugar under control, decreasing the risk of developing diabetes and heart disease.
- It supports good digestion and an improved immune system.
- It promotes weight loss.
Are the health benefits of apple cider vinegar real or just a myth?
Studies show that, of the purported health benefits of apple cider vinegar, only some are true. Let’s look at each claim one by one.
Consuming apple cider vinegar may help keep blood sugar under control.
There is substantial evidence that apple cider vinegar has a positive effect on regulating blood sugar. According to Carol S. Johnston, associate director of the nutrition program at Arizona State University, vinegar appears to inhibit the enzyme that aids in the digestion of starch. Because less starch is digested, less of the starch sugars make it into the blood.
In the long run, keeping blood sugar in check can help reduce the risk of diabetes and heart disease.
It’s important to note that all vinegar — not just apple cider vinegar — produces this blood sugar effect. That’s because all vinegar contains acetic acid, the ingredient that inhibits starch digestion.
Apple cider vinegar may aid digestion.
Since apple cider vinegar is derived from fermented apple juice, it can contain probiotics, like many other fermented foods. Probiotics are bacteria that help keep the stomach and digestive system healthy.
The probiotics are contained in the “mother,” or the cobwebby strands that are found in raw, unpasteurized apple cider vinegar. Pasteurized apple cider vinegar is clear because the pasteurization process removes the “mother,” which takes away the probiotic benefit.
Still, while raw, unpasteurized apple cider vinegar may offer probiotic benefits, this has not been verified by research.
Apple cider vinegar — like all vinegar — may have a prebiotic effect, however. While “probiotic” refers to live bacteria, “prebiotic” refers to a type of plant fiber that nourishes the beneficial bacteria already living in the large bowel and colon. The healthier the good bacteria, the more robust your digestive system.
Does apple cider vinegar promote weight loss?
Unlike the other benefits of apple cider vinegar, the purported weight loss benefit is a myth.
There is simply no science to back up the claim that apple cider vinegar triggers a metabolic process that results in weight loss, according to Scott Kahan, director of the National Center for Weight and Wellness.
Other experts share this conclusion. Carol S. Johnston, the Arizona State University nutrition specialist, agrees: “Vinegar is not a magic bullet for weight loss.”
How to consume apple cider vinegar
If you want to consume apple cider vinegar for its blood sugar benefits, it is important to consume it correctly.
Dilute 1 to 2 tablespoons of vinegar in 8 ounces of water and drink it right before eating, once or twice a day.
But don’t overdo it. Consuming too much apple cider vinegar can have adverse health consequences. Because of the acidity of apple cider vinegar, overconsumption can cause stomach irritation, wear away at your tooth enamel and harm your esophagus.
What is an effective weight loss program?
Health and wellness specialists and doctors — including Dr. Dirk — agree that the most effective weight loss program doesn’t rely on a single superfood, but a comprehensive program of diet and exercise.
Fad diets, superfood and lose-weight-fast regimens are often ineffective and can even be detrimental to your health. Healthy and sustainable weight loss depends upon eating a healthy and balanced diet and incorporating calorie- and fat-burning workouts into your lifestyle.
So what are the real superfoods?
“Real superfoods are any type of food made by nature,” Dr. Dirk says. “Eating a balanced diet of small, frequent meals with minimal amounts of processed foods helps make you super-healthy.”
To learn more about Dr. Dirk’s nutrition recommendations, set up a consultation today.