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6 truths and myths about apple cider vinegar

Published: Tuesday, September 26, 2017 @ 2:33 PM
Updated: Tuesday, September 26, 2017 @ 2:33 PM
By: Mary Caldwell - For the AJC

Although apple cider vinegar has long been used as a home remedy to treat various ailments, it's recently been touted as something close to a miracle food. 

Proponents claim it can help with everything from weight loss to a sore throat, but are all these purported benefits true?

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The following are five myths and facts about apple cider vinegar:

It can be used to clean your teeth or dentures

This one's definitely a myth. In fact, when CNN asked an expert about the idea, she said it made her cringe.

"You're putting acid on your teeth," Alice Boghosian, a dentist and American Dental Association spokeswoman said, "the last thing you'd want to do to promote oral health." She also said that cleaning or rinsing your dentures with vinegar can harm your teeth, as well as the metal on partial dentures.

It can help control blood sugar

This one has some promise, but don't expect a miracle. The acid in any type of vinegar can interact with starch-digesting enzymes, so it can help keep your blood sugar level down after a starchy meal, U.S. News & World Report said

In addition, a study found that people with prediabetes who had vinegar before a meal had several positive effects on their insulin resistance and other aspects of prediabetes. The effect lasted for up to five hours after eating.

It can help control weight

This one might have a kernel of truth to it, but not as much as you may hope. 

CNN said that the study most often cited to support apple cider vinegar as a weight loss aid showed that people actually only lost an extra third of a pound a week over a placebo. So if you were looking to vinegar for some serious weight loss help, you'll probably have to look elsewhere.

It can help get rid of dandruff

This one's true, according to Dr. Oz. He said that dandruff can be caused by excess yeast growth on your scalp, and the acidity of apple cider vinegar changes the pH of your scalp so yeast isn't as likely to grow.

He recommended mixing equal amounts of water and apple cider vinegar together in a spray bottle. Spray it on your hair and scalp (watch out for your eyes and ears!), and wrap your head in a towel. Leave it on from 15 minutes to an hour, take the towel off, and wash your hair. Doing this twice a week can help you treat your dandruff without the harsh chemicals that dandruff shampoos can contain.

It can soothe a sore throat

According to Reader's Digest, this one's true. Most germs can't survive in the acidic environment that apple cider vinegar creates, so you should use some of it as soon as you notice that your throat hurts. Mix a quarter-cup of apple cider vinegar with a quarter-cup of warm water, and use it to gargle every hour or so.

It can relieve pain

Some people believe that the beta-carotene in apple cider vinegar can destroy free radicals, which can interfere with your immune system. The vinegar is also thought to be able to help arthritis pain caused by acid crystals that form in the joints. Nope on both counts, said the Arthritis Foundation. The amount of beta-carotene in the vinegar is tiny, and gout is the only form of arthritis that involves acid crystals, which can't be dissolved by apple cider vinegar.

The verdict:

To sum it up, CNN said that if apple cider vinegar is used full strength and inappropriately, you could be doing more harm than good. And there's nothing terribly special about apple cider vinegar when compared to other types of vinegar. Ultimately, CNN recommends checking with your doctor before trying vinegar for health reasons.