Q. Does apple cider vinegar have any health benefits? I’ve heard that it could help me lose weight.
A. Apple cider vinegar, made from crushed apples whose juice is fermented, is commonly used as a condiment and food ingredient. The final product is mostly water with no nutritional benefits. Recently, though, apple cider vinegar has taken the internet by storm with tales by consumers and advertisementsthat claim it can help you lose weight, control blood sugar, lower cholesterol, clear your skin, and more.
Although a few studies conducted over the past decade or so have found very modest weight-loss benefits with vinegar, these studies did not focus on apple cider vinegar specifically. One often-cited 2017 study of 44 overweight men and women suggests that apple cider vinegar may play a role in weight loss. However, the study’s proponents usually fail to mention that the participants were put on a restricted diet that was probably the cause of weight loss notwithstanding the apple cider vinegar.
To date, no weight-loss claims have been proven by robust studies in humans. There’s also no evidence to support other health claims. But that doesn’t necessarily mean all claims can be debunked—it means that there have been few, if any, well-designed studies to investigate the vinegar’s benefits.
For example, a few very limited small studies have shown improved glycemic control among some people with type 2 diabetes who ingest apple cider vinegar or white vinegar, while other studies showed no effect. There’s no biologically plausible reason why apple cider vinegar should be beneficial for people with diabetes.
This article first appeared in the April 2020 issue of UC Berkeley Health After 50.
Also see 10 Evidence-Based Weight-Loss Tips.