Why Vinegar is the Best Condiment for Diabetics

Vinegar may be the one condiment thatís actually good for you. Randomized controlled trials involving both diabetic and non-diabetic individuals found that adding just two teaspoons of vinegar to a meal may improve blood sugar control, effectively blunting the blood sugar spike after a meal by about 20 percent.

Originally, we thought it was because vinegar delayed the gastric emptying rate, slowing the speed at which a meal leaves your stomach, which makes sense because there are acid receptors in the first part of the small intestine where the stomach acid is neutralized. So, if there is excess acid, the body slows down stomach emptying to give the intestine time to buffer it all.

The acid in vinegar was thought to slow the rate at which food leaves the stomach, resulting in a blunted sugar spike. But then, studies were published where taking apple cider vinegar before bedtime resulted in lower blood sugars the next day. How does that work? Thatís obviously not some acid-induced stomach-slowing effect. Indeed, anyone who actually went to the trouble of sticking an ultrasound probe on someoneís stomach could have told you thatóno difference in stomach-emptying times was found comparing vinegar to neutralized vinegar. So, itís not just an acid effect.

Additional studies offered the next clue. Vinegar appeared to have no effect on blood sugars, but this was after giving people a straight glucose solution. Glucose is a byproduct of sugar and starch digestion, so if vinegar blunts the blood sugar spike from cotton candy and Wonder Bread but not glucose, maybe it works by suppressing the enzymes that digest sugars and starches. And, indeed, vinegar appears to block the enzyme that breaks down table sugar.

It wasnít just an acid effect, however. There appears to be something unique about acetic acid, the acid in vinegar. These findings were based on intestinal cells in a petri dish, though. What about in people? Feed people some mashed potatoes with or without vinegar, and glucose flows into the bloodstream at the same rate either wayóso, thereís another theory shot down.

Letís figure this out. If sugar enters the bloodstream at the same rate with or without vinegar, but vinegar leads to significantly less sugar in the blood, then logically it must be leaving the bloodstream faster. Indeed, vinegar ingestion appears to enhance sugar disposal by lowering insulin resistance, which is the cause of type 2 diabetes, and also appears to improve the action of insulin in diabetics. The mystery of how vinegar works appears to have been solved, at least in part.

So, diabetics can add vinegar to their mashed potatoesóor just not eat mashed potatoes. If you add vinegar to a high-fiber meal, nothing happens, which explains results such as no effects of vinegar in diabetics in response to a meal. Thatís no surprise, because the meal in question in the study was mostly beans. If you are going to eat high glycemic index foods like refined grains, vinegar can help.

Though donít drink vinegar straight, as it may cause intractable hiccups and can burn your esophagus.

This is the final installment of my five-part series on vinegar. If you missed any, here they are:

In health,

Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you havenít yet, you can subscribe to my free videos†here†and watch my live, year-in-review presentationsó2015:†Food as Medicine: Preventing and Treating the Most Dreaded Diseases with Diet, and my latest, 2016:†How Not to Die: The Role of Diet in Preventing, Arresting, and Reversing Our Top 15 Killers.

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69 comments

Marie W
Marie W28 days ago

thanks for sharing

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Jack Y
Jack Y2 months ago

thanks

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Jack Y
Jack Y2 months ago

thanks

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John J
John J2 months ago

thanks for sharing

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John J
John J2 months ago

thanks for sharing

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John B
John B4 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Thomas M
Thomas M6 months ago

Thanks

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Karen P
Karen P6 months ago

Love to make my own salad dressings with various vinegars and oils and adding taste enhancers like mustards. Don't understand why people buy bottled prepared dressings full of completely unnecessary ingredients.

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Tanya W
Tanya W6 months ago

Our gut bacteria love vinegar, so I believe it is a great addition to a meal..
🍅🍄🍈

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Tanya W
Tanya W6 months ago

Thank you for sharing

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