Ask the RD
Question: A friend of mine suggested I take an apple cider vinegar shot in the morning to increase my metabolism and decrease my appetite throughout the day. Is there any truth to that?
Answer: Health claims associated with apple cider vinegar range from suppressing appetite to lowering blood pressure to aiding in digestion. As for your friend’s claim— that a shot of apple cider vinegar reduces appetite—a study examining the effects of apple cider vinegar on postmeal blood glucose and satiety didn’t show an impact (Chezem et al. 2012).
Apple cider vinegar is made by “double fermenting” apple juice by adding bacteria and yeast. The resulting vinegar contains a substance called acetic acid, which is what many believe is responsible for the vinegar’s health benefits. Proponents of apple cider vinegar insist that only the minimally processed organic, unfiltered vinegar that contains the “mother” will provide nutritional and health benefits. (The mother is the cobweb-like substance floating in the bottom of jars of unfiltered vinegar.)
Unfortunately, despite the vast number of health claims made about apple cider vinegar, there are very few human-based studies to back them up. However, considering how many anecdotal accounts tout the vinegar’s benefits, the real question is whether it’s safe to consume a daily tonic (1–2 tablespoons diluted in a cup of water) of apple cider vinegar.
The first thing to consider is that ingesting high amounts of acetic acid could damage tooth enamel and harm tissues lining the throat and esophagus. Long-term use of vinegar shots may also lower bone density and cause drug interactions, especially with diabetes and heart medications, so be sure to speak with your healthcare provider before starting a vinegar regimen.
Finally, keep in mind that if you do boost your intake of apple cider vinegar, adding it to food is as effective as drinking the tonic. Sprinkling the vinegar on salads or vegetables, or even over sandwiches, is an easy way of adding it to your daily routine.
Chezem, J., et al. 2012. Effects of ground cinnamon and apple cider vinegar on postprandial blood glucose levels in healthy adults. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 112 (9), A43.