The use of vinegar for medicinal purposes goes back over 10,000 years ago to ancient Greece (1). The famous Greek philosopher Hippocrates advised using vinegar to help clean ulcerations and sores. As time went on vinegar has proven to be just as beneficial, if not more so, than previously thought. The health benefits of apple cider vinegar range from weight loss to controlling blood sugar, which is what this article will focus on.
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is marked by an inability to properly control blood sugar after eating a meal containing carbohydrates which results in high blood sugar or low blood sugar levels. Over time high blood sugar can damage blood vessels, leading to blindness, heart disease and kidney failure.
Can taking apple cider vinegar with a meal help control blood sugar in diabetics? Most of the studies on this topic point to yes.
Apple Cider Vinegar can Help Reduce Spikes in Blood Sugar Following a Meal
A study of type I diabetics measured the effects of giving 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar before a meal on the subsequent spike in blood sugar (2). Taking apple cider vinegar before a meal resulted in a 20% decrease in blood sugar levels compared to those taking a placebo.
Taking Apple Cider Vinegar at Bedtime Can Help Control Morning Blood Sugar
Typically, upon waking up, everyone’s blood sugar rises significantly. This spike is more pronounced in those with diabetes. In a small pilot study of subjects with type II diabetes researchers found that taking apple cider vinegar before bedtime resulted in a decreased fasting glucose (sugar) level in the morning (3).
Apple Cider Vinegar can Improve Hemoglobin A1c Levels
To find out how well blood sugar is controlled in diabetics doctors regularly check hemoglobin A1c levels. This value helps give doctors an idea about the average blood sugar level over time which may be a better indicator of disease control than measuring blood sugar.
A small 12 week study of patients with well controlled type II diabetes looked at the effect that apple cider vinegar had on hemoglobin A1c levels (4). Daily ingestion of apple cider vinegar reduced hemoglobin A1c levels by 0.16%.
- The use of apple cider vinegar for medicinal purposes goes back 10,000 years ago to ancient Greece.
- In type I diabetics, taking 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar before a meal resulted in a 20% decrease in subsequent blood sugar level compared to those taking a placebo.
- Taking apple cider vinegar before bedtime has been shown to decrease the morning spike in blood sugar in those with type II diabetes.
- A small study found that taking apple cider vinegar daily for 12 weeks can lower hemoglobin A1c levels (measures average blood glucose levels over time).
- Ho, C. W., Lazim, A. M., Fazry, S., Zaki, U. K. H. H., & Lim, S. J. (2017). Varieties, production, composition and health benefits of vinegars: A review. Food chemistry, 221, 1621-1630.
- Mitrou, P., Raptis, A. E., Lambadiari, V., Boutati, E., Petsiou, E., Spanoudi, F., … & Raptis, S. A. (2010). Vinegar decreases postprandial hyperglycemia in patients with type 1 diabetes. Diabetes Care, 33(2), e27-e27.
- White, A. M., & Johnston, C. S. (2007). Vinegar ingestion at bedtime moderates waking glucose concentrations in adults with well-controlled type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care, 30(11), 2814-2815.
- Johnston, C. S., White, A. M., & Kent, S. M. (2009). Preliminary evidence that regular vinegar ingestion favorably influences hemoglobin A1c values in individuals with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Diabetes research and clinical practice, 84(2), e15-e17.