The ABCs of ACV
ACV is the product of a fermentation process in which bacteria and yeast break down the sugars in pulverized apples and turn them into alcohol, which then becomes acetic acid, or vinegar (from the French for “sour wine”). During fermentation, a thick layer—called the “mother of vinegar”—forms on the bottom of the liquid. Proponents of ACV consider this “mother,” which they say contains living enzymes and beneficial bacteria, especially valuable and opt for raw and unpasteurized (rather than distilled) vinegar to cultivate it.
Vinegar’s main property is its acidity, but different vinegars have other acids, vitamins, mineral salts, and amino acids. According to several natural-health sources, ACV contains vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin A, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B6, beta-carotene, bioflavonoids, acetic acid, propionic acid, lactic acid, enzymes, amino acids, potash, and apple pectin. It also contains the minerals and trace elements potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, sodium, copper, and iron.
Good for You Inside …
Nowadays, ACV is most popular as a purported weight-loss aid. A tablespoon a day taken before meals, some claim, will help to curb appetite and increase metabolism. According to Mayo Clinic nutritionist Katherine Zeratsky, RD, LD, there’s no evidence to support such beliefs, but a 2005 study found that consuming small amounts of vinegar with meals helped people increase feelings of satiety. It doesn’t have to be ACV, though; plain old white vinegar will do.
Researchers have also tested claims about ACV’s benefits for diabetes, cholesterol, blood pressure, heart health, and cancer. A 2007 study published in Diabetes Care showed that eleven people taking two tablespoons of ACV before bed lowered their morning glucose levels by 4 to 6 percent. Two laboratory studies of rats in 2006 suggested that ACV may also lower cholesterol and blood pressure. And research at the University of Texas indicates that all vinegar may be able to kill or inhibit the growth of cancer cells, especially esophageal cancer.
Less researched is the alkaline-acid theory. Some in the alternative-health sphere believe that most ailments—especially inflammatory diseases like diabetes, arthritis, and allergies—are caused by bodily pH levels that are too low. The way to correct that imbalance, according to the theory, is to replace grains, meat, and dairy products (all acidic foods) with a plant-based diet and to consume ACV daily. It seems counterintuitive—combat acidity with an acid? But believers in the alkaline-acid theory argue that ACV, alone among the vinegars, has an alkalizing effect on the body, making it an effective cure for everything from the common cold to clinical depression.