With the arrival of supermarkets in various big and small cities, many products that were not that easily available earlier are now accessible for purchase. Some of these products are even available online these days from sites like Amazon and Flipkart. In this article, we are going to dig deeper into one product that has caught the fancy of a large population and is considered one of the best seller product in diet and nutrition.
And that is Apple Cider Vinegar!
How is apple cider vinegar made?
Apple cider is a brownish liquid that is the result of a two-step fermentation process. In the first step, apples are crushed and the juice is extracted. The natural sugars are first converted to alcohol by addition of yeast, similar to how other alcoholic drinks are made.
The next step involves the addition of a substance called “mother of vinegar” that is made of a complex of cellulose and acetobacter. Acetobacter, a kind of bacteria subsequently consumes the alcohol present in the liquid and converts that into acetic acid.
As a result of double fermentation, cider contains a very low amount of sugar and very few nutrients, resulting in a low-sugar and low-calorie drink. The acetic acid present in Vinegar results in a sour taste and a strong smell.
A few brands of apple cider leave the mother that contains strands of protein, enzymes, and probiotics as well as gives a murky appearance to the liquid
Composition of apple cider
Apple cider is a low-calorie drink. 100 gram of vinegar contains 22 calories, 5 mg of Sodium and 73 mg of Potassium. 100 grams of vinegar contains only 0.4 gram of sugar. Apple cider also contains acetic acid in a 4 to 5 percent concentration. Cider also contains natural chemicals called polyphenols due to its fruit-based foundation. (1)
Is apple cider really a magic drink?
Cider has been consumed for centuries and in many different civilizations. Naturally, many stories exist on how cider can help with various conditions and provide benefits such as natural weight loss.
A few of these studies indicate the benefits, while few others don’t seem to suggest a conclusive benefit. Just like many scientific studies performed on turmeric, honey or other naturally occurring substances, scientific studies often leave a lot of uncertainty.
The most prudent approach is to first know the various possible benefits of using cider as well as situations when one should avoid it. Further, since vinegar is acidic in nature, it is important to know how to consume it safely.
Primary Benefits of Apple Cider
As is often the case, many different benefits are cited for consuming apple cider.
Blood Sugar Control
In today’s times, the modern lifestyle is taking a toll on people’s health due to consumption of fast foods and sugar-laced drinks. The menace of type 2 diabetes has already taken a toll on a very large population. It is estimated that currently 72 million people in India suffer from Diabetes and these numbers are estimated to be doubled by 2025. (2)
Apple cider is known to have a very good effect on controlling blood sugar levels. If 1 to 2 teaspoon of apple cider is mixed in a glass of water and consumed half an hour before a meal, it is known to modulate the hunger, so one would be able to avoid over-eating. Apple cider is also known to moderate the spike in blood sugar level after consuming food by having a modulating effect on insulin. (7, 8, 9)
Acetic acid in apple cider can offer a mild protection against certain forms of bacterial infections. In fact, apple cider was used in old ages for cleaning up skin infections, fungal infections of nails, ear infections etc. Due to these anti-bacterial infections, a gargle of apple cider diluted with lukewarm water can help soothe a sore throat. Apple cider is also used as a natural preservative to prevent the formation of bacteria.
The anti-bacterial action of apple cider leads to its use in a number of different conditions from skin infection treatment, dandruff treatment, control of bad breath etc.
As stated earlier, when one is using apple cider, it is important to dilute it sufficiently so it does not lead to issues such as damage to the teeth enamel or damage to the esophagus lining.
The claim that apple cider can help reduce weight is very much a debatable one, but few research studies that were conducted on animals did indicate that apple cider consumption resulted in mild weight loss.
The primary mechanism through which apple cider could help in weight loss is the same that also contributes to a lowered blood sugar. Consumption of diluted vinegar half an hour before a meal can help a person feel full and lead to a controlled diet in their meals.
Helps Improve Heart Health by Lowering Cholesterol
Heart-related health conditions are considered as one of the most common reasons for premature deaths. (3)
Studies were conducted on animals and the results were, that apple cider vinegar helps to reduce cholesterol levels and reduce triglycerides. But there are no direct studies conducted on human beings to confirm the same. (4, 5, 6)
In some other studies conducted on rats, it is shown that vinegar helps to reduce blood pressure. Blood pressure is considered the major risk factor involved in heart and kidney relates problems.
The key to note here is apple cider vinegar may help to reduce the triglyceride levels in the blood, lower cholesterol levels, and blood pressure hence may help to reduce the risks of heart issues.
Many claimed but unproven benefits
We can find a lot of unproven claims about various benefits of apple cider vinegar over the internet. The actual reality is that there are no proven scientific researches on such claims, and one should be cautious before using. Apple cider vinegar may not a “miracle juice” or “all in one” or “cure for all”.
One of such claimed benefits is that apple cider can help prevent cancer, though no scientific studies exist to prove this. Possible explanations that lead to this belief are based on the fact that apple cider leads to an alkalizing effect. Similar to many fruits such as lemon, apple cider is acidic but when it is consumed in the body, it helps create a lower acid environment. Consumption of alkalizing foods is co-related with better health in general.
We do not wish to expand upon those myths by listing those here, but in a nutshell, apple cider consumed correctly and safely can be helpful as an additive component in one’s diet.
How to use apple cider vinegar safely?
An average dosage of apple cider vinegar is 5 ml to 30 ml at maximum. It is not advisable to take it in larger quantities which may lead to harmful side effects. Since it contains acetic acid, the right way to take it is by diluting it significantly. The advisable way is to mix 1 or 2 teaspoons in a glass of water.
Best method is to use this in cooking such as dressing for salads, mayonnaise preparation etc. It is always a good idea to start with a smaller dose. Organic and unfiltered apple cider vinegar is the most advised variant of apple cider vinegar as it is known to contain few enzymes and probiotic bacterial strains.
Bragg Organic Raw Apple Cider Vinegar is one of the most popular amongst available brands in online stores such as Amazon.
Who should be more careful with apple cider?
Undiluted consumption can cause side effects such as damage to the teeth enamel, acidity, and damage to the food pipe. If one is suffering from stomach ulcers, consuming apple cider can worsen the symptoms. If a person is suffering from sensitive teeth or weak teeth enamel, consuming apple cider in undiluted form can increase the damage.
If one is suffering from low potassium, apple cider should not be consumed or the doctor should be consulted as apple cider is known to cause low blood potassium levels.
Apple cider is known to reduce blood sugar levels but if a person is already taking medicines for Diabetes, consuming apple cider can lead to very low sugar level and can be unsafe.
Similarly, when a person is taking diuretics which may be often prescribed to deal with hypertension or heart issues, it is not advisable to consume apple cider, as it can lead to very low potassium levels. Potassium is needed by muscles for normal functioning and therefore apple cider consumption is not safe. High consumption of apple cider can also weaken the bones due to leaching effect where calcium is leached out from the bones.
Final take on apple cider
There’s a saying that too much of anything can be bad. Apple cider is one such drink. The key is moderation and intake of apple cider in a safe manner, either in a diluted form or as additives in a salad or dressing.
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