MYTH 1 Apple cider vinegar is a magical substance
There are so many claims made for the benefits of apple cider vinegar that it must surely be a magical substance – an elixir lauded throughout the centuries to help with just about any ailment. Or is it just the next in a long line of food fads?
If you expect it to be a super-charged cure-all, science suggests you think again. A lot of its success is anecdotal, the scientific evidence is not strong on a number of its health claims. As a home remedy, its efficacy can be a bit hit and miss, maybe even completely counterproductive. And as a highly acidic liquid, there are also a number of risks when taken incorrectly. Read on for more.
MYTH 2 It helps ‘cure’ diabetes
Many leap ahead of the evidence to claim apple cider vinegar is an effective weapon for curing type 2 diabetes. This is probably because apple cider vinegar has been proven to lower blood glucose levels for a short time in people with pre-diabetes and generally healthy people after a high-GI, carb-rich meal.
This research needs confirming in a larger study group, however it is encouraging news for people with an insulin resistance or for preventing pre-diabetes in the future.
Meanwhile, there is absolutely no scientific evidence that indicates apple cider vinegar can or will replace insulin and other diabetes medications necessary to cure or manage diabetes.
If you’re interested in trying it out, make sure to consult a doctor before you do, as it could interfere with medications used to treat diabetes and make diabetes more difficult to manage.
As always, to manage type 2 diabetes well, be sure to eat a healthy and balanced diet.
MYTH 3 It can’t possibly harm you
While apple cider vinegar appears to have some amazing health benefits, that doesn’t mean there are no side effects.
Because it is strongly acidic, undiluted apple cider vinegar has been found to erode tooth enamel, leading to tooth decay, as well as to damage the throat and oesophagus. If taken frequently in high doses, it could potentially lead to low potassium levels.
MYTH 4 There are no proven health benefits
Sceptics out there might want to dismiss apple cider vinegar as all smoke and mirrors, but recently scientists have been taking a closer look at its powerful properties and coming up with some promising, albeit cautious, results.
There is some evidence to show apple cider vinegar may help with the tricky area of weight loss, according to a Japanese study. Sure, the weight loss in the small study group was minimal so the claims can’t yet be confidently asserted, but it does pave the way for favourable future research.
Apple cider vinegar may also alleviate hunger pains by increasing the feeling of fullness after a meal, according to a UK study. This may have something to do with accompanying nausea felt by the study participants, or perhaps with the water you drink to dilute it, however. So if you can put up with feeling a little bit sick, on the bright side apple cider vinegar does seem to suppress appetite and make you eat less.
Early studies have found apple cider vinegar could reduce blood pressure, potentially leading to improved heart and vascular health. While these studies have only been tested on animals and have yet to be more rigorously conducted in human trials, they are good news.
MYTH 5 It’s bad for the skin
First instinct might tell you that apple cider vinegar would be harmful for the skin with its strong odour and acidic properties.
However, when diluted, it can be used as a facial toner. Apple cider vinegar is also said to remove nuisances like acne and acne scars. Even famous stars like Miranda Kerr, Megan Fox and Katy Perry swear by it. Make sure you’re not putting it on your skin undiluted, which can be harmful.
But we don’t recommend throwing out your entire skincare collection for the stuff. While apple cider vinegar may provide some benefit, there are more effective and safer products to achieve the same result.
Looking for natural options? There are lots of foods that can help rejuvenate the skin.
MYTH 6 It can ward off cancer
Although there are various studies that have tested apple cider vinegar for potentially cancer-fighting traits, all results (including its ability to slow the growth of cancer cells) have cropped up as inconclusive. Moreover, they yield rather conflicting results.
Ultimately it’s safe to say that, while for some people apple cider vinegar is great for clearing out your digestive tract, that doesn’t mean you’re immune from colon cancer.
MYTH 7 All apple cider vinegar is the same
Apple cider vinegar is simply a vinegar made from apples, but not all are created equal.
It actually comes in two versions: filtered and unfiltered. The filtered vinegar is a clear, translucent liquid, while unfiltered will have a cloudy appearance.
If you are interested in less processed ingredients or want to use apple cider vinegar to kickstart your own homemade vinegars, the unfiltered kind may be best for you. It also contains the ‘mother’ which is what gives it its valuable proteins, enzymes and beneficial bacteria.
Be careful when buying a bottle off the supermarket shelves: some brands are more concentrated than others. Always check the label for its acidity strength, as this will make a difference when you come to diluting it for your morning refreshment.
MYTH 8 It tastes terrible
We get that no one wants to drink something that has such a pungent, sour taste and strong smell – no matter how extensive the health benefits are. Plus, drinking it straight can cause real damage.
Luckily, there are a wide array of ways to mask the taste and create delectable concoctions from it. Popular methods include creating a salad dressing or mixing it with honey (for those with a sweet tooth). Why not try it with hot water for a new take on a cup of tea? You can even make a sauce or smoothie from the versatile stuff.
MYTH 9 It has the same effects as eating an apple
Although it does have the word ‘apple’ in its name, apple cider vinegar does not have all the same nutrients as eating an apple.
Sure, it may come from fermented apples, but the distilling and liquidating process means that nutrients such as fibre and vitamin C – which are very prevalent in apples – don’t show up in apple cider vinegar.
A better option would be to eat a whole apple, which is a good source of soluble and insoluble fibre.
MYTH 10 The only thing you can do with it is eat it
Apple cider vinegar is great when used in cooking, baking, salad dressings and pickling. But contrary to common belief, you can use the versatile substance for things other than food.
Apple cider vinegar’s antifungal properties can help treat dandruff and treat toe fungus. Also try it to relieve itching after an insect bite, or to alleviate sunburn.
Vinegar is actually one of the best natural cleaning agents in existence, largely due to its antimicrobial properties. It’s surprisingly effective as an all-purpose cleaner, to neutralise odours or to kill weeds. Just bear in mind that vinegars other than apple cider vinegar will also do the job, and may be a cheaper alternative.
MYTH 11 It contains alcohol
Nope, you can’t get intoxicated from taking apple cider vinegar.
Though it does go through a fermentation process that converts its sugars to alcohol, the rest of that process transforms the alcohol into acetic acid. After this process is completed, “any amount of alcohol in apple cider vinegar is so small that it is negligible,” says Amy Leigh Mercree, author of Apple Cider Vinegar Handbook.
So, for better or worse, you cannot get drunk from consuming apple cider vinegar.
MYTH 12 Cooking it removes the health benefits
You might think that you need to take apple cider vinegar completely raw to maximise the health benefits, but “apple cider vinegar will retain some of its health benefits regardless of whether or not it is heated,” Mercree says.
However, she does advise against boiling it or exposing it to very high temperatures, which could kill the healthy bacteria in the apple cider vinegar’s symbiotic culture. “Some cooking is fine — just avoid extreme temperatures to maintain apple cider vinegar’s health benefits,” Mercree advises.