By now you’ve probably heard something about the health benefits of apple cider vinegar, in fact, it’s been touted for its health benefits since the early 19th century, but what is it and what does it actually do for us?

Vinegar can be made using a wide variety of sugar-containing foods, typically wine or cider, but the options don’t stop there. The process begins by adding yeast to ferment the remaining natural sugars into alcohol. Next, bacteria cultures are added and further metabolize the alcohol into acetic acid. The Food and Drug Administration has no formal standards vinegar, however generally considers 4 g of acetic acid per 100 mL to be satisfactory for labeling as vinegar.

So now for the benefits. In one Arizona State University study, subjects consuming 2 teaspoons of apple cider before consuming a bagel had a 20% reduction in post-meal blood sugar rise. Interestingly this effect was not seen when the apple cider vinegar was consumed with an equal amount of carbohydrate provided as juice, suggesting that the effect is related to the breakdown of complex carbohydrates into simple sugars.

Another study of 12 healthy subjects founds using vinegar with different levels of acetic acid showed similar results. They found an inverse relationship between the level of acetic acid in the vinegar and the blood sugar and insulin response. So the higher the acetic acid level the lower the blood sugar and insulin response after the meal. Additionally, they reported an increase in the subjective rating of their feeling of fullness after the meal.

Some of the available research on apple cider vinegar shows that it may:
  • Inhibits activity of enzymes that break down starches into sugars
  • Slows emptying of food from the stomach
  • Enhances glucose uptake into the cells

Plus, as it turns out, these benefits might not just be seen with apple cider vinegar but many varieties as it’s the acetic acid that may be responsible for the health benefits. Overall adding vinegar when cooking is a great way to add brightness and flavor to food without additional calories and studies show it may also help control blood sugar spikes after meals and increase satiety.