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Friday, 16 April 2021

Do Apple Cider Vinegar Gummies Have Any Benefits?

 

The many forms of apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is often cast as a miracle elixir, helping everything from type 2 diabetes to excess body weight. Could this simple, mildly acidic solution really offer so many benefits to the human body?

Few substances of any kind could live up to the hype surrounding apple cider vinegar. That said, it may offer at least a few distinct health benefits, and when used the right way, may offer value in a health regimen.

The recommended way of drinking apple cider vinegar includes diluting it, for example, to protect your teeth, throat, and stomach from the acidity. And thanks to the popularity of apple cider vinegar, or ACV, this notoriously acquired taste also now comes in other forms—including a milder, chewier gummy.

But do apple cider vinegar gummies offer the same benefits as ACV itself? And what exactly can ACV do in the first place? Here is a closer look at what we do and don’t know about this venerable vinegar as well as its gummy offspring.

What is ACV?

ACV is vinegar made from fermented apple juice. The juice from apples is mixed with yeast and bacteria, helping ferment the apples’ sugars into ethanol, which is then further transformed by acetic acid bacteria.

This diverse group of bacteria is named for its ability to create acetic acid—a key ingredient of vinegar—during fermentation. Any traces of ethanol left by this point are negligible; ACV is not considered alcoholic.

ACV is roughly 94 percent water, 5 percent acetic acid, and 1 percent carbohydrates, with no fat or protein. Other components include organic acids, flavonoids, polyphenols, vitamins, and minerals.

A bottle of ACV may also still include the “mother of vinegar,” a combination of yeast and bacteria that forms into a clump during fermentation.

How popular is ACV?

ACV has been used medicinally for millennia. Hippocrates, the Greek “father of medicine,” used it to treat wounds some 2,400 years ago, for example, and mixed it with honey to treat a persistent cough.

It has been used for those and many other purposes ever since, eventually accumulating a reputation for addressing a wide range of health problems.

Largely due to this reputation, ACV is in high demand around the world.

The global market share of ACV is projected to reach $2.5 billion in 2027, according to market research from Absolute Reports, up from about $2 billion in 2020, for a compound annual growth rate of 3.5 percent between 2021 and 2027.

What exactly are apple cider vinegar gummies?

Despite the widespread use of ACV in cooking and food preparation, it—like other kinds of vinegar—has a sour taste many people find off-putting. Diluting the vinegar with water can help, and that is often advised anyway to protect against the mild acidity.

Diluting vinegar in water protects your tooth enamel, for example, and can also reduce the danger of aspirating vinegar into the lungs, which can damage lung tissue, says Carol S. Johnston, an associate dean and professor of nutrition at Arizona State University’s College of Health Solutions.

ACV is available in multiple forms, from filtered or unfiltered liquid to various supplements and other products that feature ACV, including the aforementioned gummies.

The science behind ACV gummies

There has been little research on these gummies, Johnston says, so it’s unclear how their effects might compare to the effects of liquid vinegar.

“I am not aware of a study that examined the efficacy of ACV gummies. We reported that vinegar tablets do not confer the same antiglycemic effects noted for liquid ACV even though the tablets contained the same amount of acetic acid as the liquid vinegar,” Johnston notes.

Johnston theorizes this is due to the tablet’s slower release of the acetic acid in the small intestine.

“The acetic acid is theoretically interfering with the enzymes that digest starch molecules; hence, acetic acid must be present immediately when starch is present in the small intestine because once the starch arrives in the small intestine, it is rapidly digested,” she explains.

ACV’s potential health benefits

There is no significant difference in the health effects of ACV gummies versus liquid vinegar, however, the gummies inevitably come with some extra ingredients you may want to consider before buying them.

Many brands contain cane sugar or another sweetener, for example, along with tapioca syrup to add sweetness and pectin as a gelling agent.

A few added sugars may be unlikely to cause any harm on their own, but if the goal is health benefits from the ACV, it’s at least worth noting these additional ingredients are in gummies but not in the liquid vinegar.

Here are some of the health benefits of ACV.

ACV possesses antimicrobial properties

ACV has shown broad antimicrobial potential, according to a 2018 study in Scientific Reports, whose authors noted the results demonstrate “clinical therapeutic applications.”

Research suggests ACV can be effective against bacteria—including some responsible for human illness, such as E. coli—and fungi, although a 2017 study in Natural Product Research noted some fungi seem less susceptible than do bacteria.

The antimicrobial effects of ACV might help explain its long-standing use for wound treatment, as well as its common uses for cleaning and disinfecting. Along with its mild acidity, this could also play into ACV’s popularity for treating conditions like acne, nail fungus, or plantar warts, although there is little scientific evidence to support these uses.

May help manage blood sugar

ACV doesn’t cure type 2 diabetes, as some claims suggest, but there is evidence to suggest it can help some people manage their blood sugar. Meta-analyses suggest that ingesting vinegar at the start of a meal—1 to 2 tablespoons in a glass of water—can diminish the post-meal (or “post-prandial”) surge in blood glucose, says Johnston.

“This is not a ‘cure’ for diabetes,” Johnston says, “but rather it is a strategy to help manage high blood glucose in those with diabetes (type 2) or pre-diabetes. Post-prandial glucose surges are the main contributor to elevated hemoglobin A1C, which is the marker used by physicians to determine the severity of the diabetic condition.”

For two hours after a meal, vinegar consumption is associated with a reduction in postprandial blood sugar of about 20 percent to 40 percent, Johnston says. In people with prediabetes, vinegar has also been shown to reduce fasting glucose concentrations, she adds, or those measured after several hours with no food.

This antiglycemic effect is not unique to ACV, Johnston points out. It should work with any type of vinegar since all kinds of vinegar by definition include acetic acid.

May help weight loss

Although ACV is widely touted for its ability to help people lose weight, the evidence suggesting it’s an effective weight-loss strategy is minimal, Johnston says.

One highly cited study published in Bioscience, Biotechnology & Biochemistry did report a modest 3-pound weight loss with acetic acid, the main ingredient in vinegar, after 12 weeks, she notes, or about one-third of a pound per week. However, other trials generally have not replicated those results.

Still, some research—such as this 2018 study in the Journal of Functional Foods—does suggest ACV can play a role in weight loss, at least in combination with other strategies like a restricted-calorie diet.

“Vinegar may act as an appetite suppressant by ‘invoking feelings of nausea,'” Johnston says. “But there are many other, more effective weight-loss strategies.”

Other uses for ACV

ACV is commonly credited with other health benefits, like reducing high blood pressure or improving skin health, but these lack convincing evidence, Johnston explains, such as support from a multiple studies that have the same or similar results.

Of course, even aside from its reputed medicinal uses, ACV also has a long history of many other applications, including food. ACV can shine in a variety of recipes, from marinades and salad dressings to dessert sauces for ice cream and cake.

More research needed

With such scant evidence on the efficacy of ACV gummies, there’s an argument to be made for the traditional liquid vinegar, since what little we do know about the health benefits of ACV is based on that rather than gummies.

Nonetheless, if you enjoy ACV gummies, there is little evidence to suggest they pose a risk when taken in moderation. 

The potential health benefits of vinegar warrant more research, Johnston says. If more and larger trials can be conducted with ACV, we may finally find more answers about what exactly this ancient elixir is capable of.

“Carefully conducted clinical trials are the standard to demonstrate efficacy—ideally using large samples,” Johnston says. “These are expensive trials to conduct and time-consuming. But hopefully, more investigators become interested in vinegar and more trials will be conducted.”

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