APPLE CIDER VINEGAR*
Apple cider vinegar, also called cider vinegar, is a type of vinegar made by the fermentation of apple cider. During this two stage process, sugar in the apple cider is broken down by bacteria and yeast into alcohol and then converted into vinegar by acetic acid-forming bacteria. Apple cider vinegar contains acetic acid (like other types of vinegar) and some lactic, citric and malic acids.
Unlike white vinegar, apple cider vinegar is a light yellow-brown colour and is often sold unfiltered and unpasteurised, with a dark cloudy sediment made up mainly of acetic acid bacteria, at the bottom of the bottle. This sediment is called 'mother vinegar'.
‘Vinegar’ (white, red wine, rice wine) is a liquid food consisting mainly of acetic acid and water, the acetic acid being produced through the fermentation of the ethanol (alcohol) in wine by acetic acid bacteria.
Balsamic vinegar, from Modena, Italy, is not made from wine but from grape pressings that have never been permitted to ferment into wine. It undergoes an ageing process which makes a 'true' balsamic vinegar.
White vinegar, red wine vinegar, rice wine vinegar and balsamic vinegar are used mainly in cooking and added to foods. In contrast, apple cider vinegar, although often used as other vinegars are used, tends to used for health purposes.
The Origin of the Health Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar
Although Hippocrates referred to apple cider vinegar, the modern usage of apple cider vinegar for health benefits dates from the mid-20th century.
In 1958 the book Folk Medicine: A Vermont Doctor's Guide to Good Health, written by D. C. Jarvis, M. D., was published.
Dr. Jarvis, from his experience as a country doctor (he is referred to as "a noted Vermont country doctor"), and from his observations not only on his patients but also on the behaviour of the various animals on the farms he visited, recommended apple cider vinegar as almost a "cure-all". He explained that apple cider vinegar was unusually rich in potassium and he said that mixing it with honey, called "honegar", enhanced the healing power of the vinegar. Equal parts of apple cider vinegar and honey, 5-10ml of each dissolved in a glass of water, were to be consumed several times a day, with meals, for the health benefit.
As the result of this publication and Dr. Jarvis's claims, the medicinal use of apple cider vinegar took off.
The book became a best seller and was reported by Time Magazine to have sold more than 245,000 copies in a single week. There were many testimonials by people who claimed remarkable benefit from the apple cider vinegar and honey mixture.
Claims of Health Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar
"Cures more ailments than any other folk remedy." "Apple cider vinegar has anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties." These are typical published statements about apple cider vinegar.
The article Many Tried and True Home Remedies. Use the Natural Healing Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar lists 52 conditions that can be treated by using apple cider vinegar, ranging from acne to yeast infections. The article ends by saying "This is by no means a complete list of natural healing home remedies that use apple cider vinegar.” (See www.apple-cider-vinegar-benefits.com.)
Advertisements appear regularly in newspapers and magazines promoting the hundreds of benefits of apple cider vinegar, and recommend “just buy the book and find out!”. For example Apple Cider Vinegar: Miracle Health System (amazon.com).
The following is an example of the claims for apple cider vinegar. "Natural Apple Cider Vinegar is a wonderful cure for a number of ailments which usually require antibiotics and other medications that have a number of side effects. In particular, Apple Cider Vinegar has been known to:
- Reduce sinus infections and sore throats
- Balance high cholesterol
- Cure skin conditions such as acne
- Protect against food poisoning
- Fight allergies in both humans and animals
- Prevent muscle fatigue after exercise
- Strengthen the immune system
- Increase stamina
- Increase metabolism which promotes weight loss
- Improve digestion and cure constipation
- Alleviate symptoms of arthritis and gout
- Prevent bladder stones and urinary tract infections”.
What is the evidence for these health benefit claims for apple cider vinegar?
Dr Jarvis believed that the health benefits of apple cider vinegar were linked to the fact that it was unusually high in potassium. What is the chemical composition of apple cider vinegar compared to other vinegars and selected foods?
Mineral Content of Apple Cider Vinegar, Other Vinegars and Selected Foods
The following is from the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference (www.ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/list).
|(milligrams per 100||Cider||Vinegar||Vinegar|
All the vinegars have zero protein, fat and fibre. There are small amounts of carbohydrate and sugar, approximately 1%. Apple cider vinegar and white vinegar each contain 5% acetic acid, and balsamic vinegar 6% acetic acid.
It can be seen that yes, apple cider vinegar has high levels of potassium, as Dr Jarvis noted. Balsamic vinegar has an even higher potassium content than apple cider vinegar, and both these are in contrast to ‘vinegar’ (white, red wine, rice wine), which has almost no potassium. Potato and banana, for example, have some five times the amount of potassium as apple cider vinegar.
Apple cider vinegar is a slightly alkali-forming food and balsamic vinegar is a slightly acid-forming food, whereas the other vinegars are highly acid-forming foods. High acid-forming foods are detrimental to health. (See my September 2005 newsletter Acid / Alkaline Balance - The Ideal Diet.)
Of all the vinegars, balsamic vinegar has the highest mineral content, which would off-set the fact that it is a slightly acid-forming food.
Scientific Evidence for Health Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar
"There is no scientific evidence that apple cider vinegar has any medicinal properties." "Apple cider vinegar is anything but a storehouse of nutrients. The fibre, vitamin and amino acid content is zero." (See the article "The sour truth about apple cider vinegar - evaluation of therapeutic use" at www.findarticles.com.)
These statements are in contrast to the widely accepted anecdotal evidence of the health benefits of apple cider vinegar. There are indeed thousands of testimonials as to the efficacy of apple cider vinegar.
Dr Richard Mackarness, author of Not All in the Mind and Chemical Victims, once said: "I will not wait until the men in white coats with their white rats tell me what I can see every day to be the truth."
There is limited scientific evidence that apple cider vinegar has benefits in the management of several of the conditions listed above. This may change in the future, as researchers are involved in some exciting research about apple cider vinegar, and the future is likely to bring better information.
In the meantime, it is difficult to ignore the vast amount of anecdotal evidence of the efficacy of apple cider vinegar. There are no major known side effects of apple cider vinegar when used in moderation.
The combination of apple cider vinegar with honey (1-2 teaspoons of each in 200ml of water) makes a very pleasant drink, especially when chilled. If it also has therapeutic benefits, this is a bonus.
*Copyright 2012: The Huntly Centre.
Disclaimer: All material in the huntlycentre.com.au website is provided for informational or educational purposes only. Consult a health professional regarding the applicability of any opinions or recommendations expressed herein, with respect to your symptoms or medical condition.
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