Apple Cider Vinegar Diet: Does It Really Work?

Apple cider vinegar effects on weight, cholesterol, and blood sugar

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The claims for ACV are pretty impressive: Lower blood sugar and cholesterol, weight loss, antibacterial properties, and better hair and skin are just some of the benefits people attribute to apple cider vinegar. But the studies behind some of this are shaky. "Sources claim apple cider vinegar can be great for digestion, glucose control, and weight loss, but there is limited research on apple cider vinegar," says Amanda A. Kostro Miller, RD, LDN, who serves on the advisory board for Smart Healthy Living. She adds the research on ACV has limitations and is still in the early phase—it's not enough to alter nutrition guidelines. One 2015 study found promising results in vinegar's ability to lower blood sugar when people down it before a meal. However, the study used eight men and didn't actually use apple cider vinegar (though the vinegar had a similar acetic acid content). A study from 2018 found a small reduction in blood sugar levels, but scientists said more research was needed before deeming this an official treatment.

When it comes to weight loss, another 2018 study revealed that overweight or obese individuals who took 300 milliliters of apple cider vinegar a day while on a restricted diet lost weight and had lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels. The study authors determined that apple cider vinegar might be helpful for losing weight and lowering triglyceride and cholesterol levels, but that the results only applied to overweight people who were also dieting. Unlike these verified tips on weight loss, experts warn this limited research doesn't mean much when it comes to apple cider vinegar. "Sadly we do not have compelling evidence that apple cider vinegar can do anything beyond provide unique flavor to food," says Monica Auslander Moreno, MS, RD, LD/N, nutrition consultant for RSP Nutrition.

Antifungal and antibacterial properties of apple cider vinegar

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Some reports suggest apple cider vinegar may be helpful in battling fungal infections caused by Candida albicans. This is a common fungal infection caused by yeast and normally lives inside the mouth, throat, gut, vagina, or on the skin, according to the Center for Disease Control. Candida yeasts can cause infections if they grow out of control or grow into internal organs or the bloodstream. There are several case reports of apple cider vinegar helping clear up Candida infections, according to Medical News Today. A test tube study confirmed that apple cider vinegar containing 4 percent maleic acid can also kill a species of Candida that causes fungal infection for people who wear dentures. Studies have been done in test tubes to determine apple cider vinegar's antibacterial properties, and the results are fairly positive: The vinegar seems to work against staph infections and infection-causing bacteria in the gut. While ACV may have potential as a treatment for these bugs, tests on people need to be done first.

Apple cider vinegar and your hair

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People tout apple cider vinegar as a cure-all for hair woes, claiming it can soften hair, add shine, prevent split ends, cure dandruff, prevent hair loss, and promote hair growth. But like many other apple cider vinegar claims, the research is dubious. Medical News Today reports no studies have confirmed the benefits of apple cider vinegar helping your hair or skin for that matter, as some people use it as an acne treatment. Try these hair tips from around the world if you want to see results.

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