Apple cider vinegar seems to be one of the popular kids at the high school of natural health. Can you picture apple cider vinegar and kale leaning up against their lockers, just gossiping away about how they’re the most talked about ingredients in school? All the while, blueberries stand off to the side, wishing someone would notice their antioxidants.

So what’s up with this mysterious vinegar? Why is everyone talking about it and why is it so special?

Apple Cider Vinegar Versus Other Vinegars

Vinegar is made through a double fermentation. First, yeast converts sugars to alcohol. The second fermentation happens when bacteria convert the alcohol to acid. Acetic acid is the main component of vinegar.

Most vinegar is distilled. Thus, when the liquid is heated to a high temperature, the healthy enzymes and probiotics are destroyed. This is one way that apple cider vinegar stands out from other vinegars, because it is often available raw, resulting in a more nutrient-rich product. That murky looking stuff you see on the bottom of bottles labeled “organic raw,” “with the mother,” or “unfiltered” is actually a bunch of good bacteria that your stomach will welcome with open arms.

Diet and Weight Loss

Vinegar in general has been used for a long time to aid weight loss. It seems to reduce food cravings and leave people feeling fuller after a meal. (Evidence from a 2005 study listed below.) Maybe this is one benefit of starting your meal with a salad and vinaigrette (we’re doing something right!).

Diabetes Journal published a study in 2004 that tested vinegar on blood sugar. Subjects consumed apple cider vinegar in water following a meal high in carbohydrates. Those who had vinegar following their meal showed less flux in insulin, which could mean that their blood sugar was less affected by their meal. Because of the connection between blood sugar and weight gain, this provides good evidence for using vinegar to help maintain weight.

Another study looked at pomegranate vinegar in rats. Rats ingesting pomegranate vinegar experienced smaller increases in body weight and fat mass (while on a high-fat diet) than rats that didn’t get any pomegranate vinegar. Interestingly, the lower dose of vinegar caused less weight gain than the higher dose of vinegar. Of course, these were little rat participants, so the recommended human dosage would not be the same.

Yet another study, this one from the Pakistani Journal of Biological Sciences, tested the effect of apple cider vinegar on the lipid profile of rats. What they found was that apple cider vinegar was lowering the rats’ levels of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and raising the HDL (“good”) cholesterol.

More studies on the effects of apple cider vinegar would certainly help clarify its health properties, but what we see so far shows its potential as a diet aid. Given that pomegranate vinegar may have a similar effect, perhaps it is the acetic acid in vinegar that is responsible for the weight loss boost.

All in all, if you choose to use vinegar to aid your weight loss, choose raw, unfiltered vinegars for the optimum amount of healthy enzymes.

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