Apple cider vinegar – organic or not – has long been touted as a cure for myriad health problems, including heart disease. Evidence of its benefits for humans, however, is primarily anecdotal, but some research has been done on animals with some positive results. Promising as this may sound, more research is needed before you use apple cider vinegar as a sole method of preventing heart disease.
A study by the Central Research Institute at the Mitsukan Group Corporation in Aichi, Japan, found that acetic acid – a main compound in apple cider vinegar – could have an antihypertensive effect on blood pressure. After six weeks, systolic blood pressure was reduced by an average of 20 mmHg. However, the study was only performed on spontaneously hypertensive rats, so additional research on human subjects is needed to determine if the acetic acid in vinegar would prove beneficial on hypertensive patients.
According to another study by the same research group, acetic acid may also help to improve cholesterol levels. Rats were fed a cholesterol-rich diet in conjunction with the acetic acid. When compared to a control grouip, rats given acetic acid had significantly lower serum cholesterol and triacylglycerol levels than those fed only a cholesterol-rich diet. It appears the main compound in vinegar inhibits lipogenesis, which is the process of turning simple sugars into fat. Both cholesterol and triacylglycerol are forms of fats, or lipids, in the bloodstream. Again, additional research on people is needed to determine if acetic acid can improve cholesterol levels in patients with high cholesterol and triglycerides.
While managing both cholesterol and blood pressure can help prevent heart disease, you may want to look for other methods of doing this. Instead of simply taking apple cider vinegar each day, increase your level of physical activity to 30 minutes most days of the week. Also, limit your intake of both saturated and trans fats. Both of these steps can help you maintain a healthy weight. Like inactivity and high-fat diets, excess weight is known to increase the risk of heart disease in all its forms, including coronary artery disease, atherosclerosis and arrhythmias.
If you're already suffering from a form of heart disease, the same tactics used to prevent this grouping of disorders can often improve your condition. However, talk to your doctor. He may recommend you take a prescription medication in combination with a change in lifestyle to reduce your risk of heart attack or stroke.
- “Bioscience, Biotechnology and Biochemistry”; Antihypertensive Effects of Acetic Acid and Vinegar on Spontaneously Hypertensive Rats; S. Kondo, et al.; December 2001
- PubMed Central: Vinegar: Medicinal Uses and Antiglycemic Effect; Carol Johnston and Cindy Gaas; May 2006
- “British Journal of Nutrition”; Dietary Acetic Acid Reduces Serum Cholesterol and Triacylglycerols in Rats Fed a Cholesterol-Rich Diet; T. Fushimi, et al.; May 2006