Folk medicine has favoured apple cider vinegar for centuries and many claims are made for its supposed benefits.
Apple cider vinegar is made by chopping apples, covering them with water and leaving them at room temperature until the natural sugars ferment and form ethanol. Bacteria then convert this alcohol into acetic acid.
Strands of a “mother” will form in the cider. These are strained out of many products but left in others, and are often the target of health claims. The “mother” can also be used to start the production of the next batch of cider.
But will apple cider vinegar really help you lose weight, fight heart disease, control blood sugar and prevent cancer? And what about claims it is rich in enzymes and nutrients such as potassium?
The evidence that apple cider vinegar helps fight fat is weak.
A short-term study in Japan added two daily drinks of 15 millilitres of apple cider vinegar mixed with 250 ml of water to the usual diet of overweight men and women. Their weight fell by about one kilogram over 12 weeks, but returned to usual levels within four weeks.
According to a UK study, it may be that vinegar can suppress appetite. When offered a pleasant-tasting vinegar drink, one that was less palatable, or a non-vinegar drink with their breakfast, volunteers who downed both vinegar drinks felt slightly nauseated. Not surprisingly, this depressed their appetite, with the least palatable vinegar drink having the greatest effect.