Clogged arteries are a major risk for coronary artery disease, chronic kidney disease, angina and cardiac events. Alternative health practitioners say that it's possible to unclog the arteries with vinegar. This functional food may improve blood lipids, but it's by no means a cure-all.
Apple cider vinegar alone is unlikely to unclog your arteries and reverse atherosclerosis. The key is to make lasting lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking, losing excess weight and staying physically active.
What Causes Clogged Arteries?
Atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, is a leading cause of heart disease and cardiovascular mortality. This condition causes plaque buildup inside the arteries, reducing oxygen-rich blood flow to your heart, brain and other vital organs.
Plaque, which consists of cholesterol, calcium and fatty substances, gradually accumulates on the artery walls. Over time, it can limit or block blood flow and affect organ function. This may increase your risk of peripheral artery disease, cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, stroke and heart attack.
This condition is more common among people aged 50 to 60 years old, reports the American Heart Association. However, it may also affect younger adults. Sometimes, it develops in childhood and progresses over the years.
The exact cause of atherosclerosis is unknown. Most experts believe that it may result from a combination of factors, including cigarette smoking, elevated blood lipids and hypertension. The Mayo Clinic points out that lack of exercise, insulin resistance and diabetes may play a role, too. Also, individuals with a family history of heart disease or obesity are more likely to develop this condition.
Most risk factors are interdependent. A sedentary lifestyle, for example, can result in weight gain and obesity, which in turn, may lead to insulin resistance and diabetes. Any of these conditions may increase your risk of atherosclerosis and its consequences.
Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar
Anecdotal evidence suggests that you can unclog the arteries with vinegar. Some people even use apple cider vinegar for peripheral artery disease, a common complication of atherosclerosis. Unfortunately, no single food can prevent or cure these disorders. It's your overall diet that matters.
Apple cider vinegar may help to some extent when consumed as part of a balanced diet. This functional food has been shown to reduce blood sugar, triglycerides and cholesterol levels, which may help with atherosclerosis prevention and treatment.
For example, a May 2018 review published in the Journal of Evidence-Based Integrative Medicine suggests that vinegar may cause a small but significant reduction in HbA1c, a key indicator of long-term glycemic control. This beneficial effect is attributed to acetic acid, the primary component of vinegar.
Another research paper, featured in Nutrition Reviews in October 2014, states that vinegar may improve glucose and lipid metabolism. In clinical trials, this fermented beverage has been found to delay gastric emptying, stimulate fat burning and suppress glucose production in the liver. Most studies were small, so further research is needed to validate these claims.
A more recent review published in Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice in May 2017 reports similar findings. Researchers suggest that vinegar may reduce insulin and blood sugar levels after a meal, leading to improved glycemic control.
Furthermore, ACV appears to have beneficial effects on appetite, cholesterol levels, triglyceride levels and body weight, as reported in a small clinical trial featured in the Journal of Functional Foods in April 2018. It's important to note that the study participants followed a low-calorie diet for three months, which may have contributed to these outcomes.
How to Reverse Atherosclerosis Naturally
Some of the risk factors for atherosclerosis, such as genetics and old age, are beyond your control. Others, including your smoking and drinking habits as well as your diet and body weight, can be managed through lifestyle changes. What you eat has a direct impact on blood sugar levels, blood lipids and cardiovascular health. Therefore, it makes sense to modify your diet to manage or reverse plaque buildup.
While you may use apple cider vinegar for peripheral artery disease and clogged arteries, this beverage alone won't help too much. The key is to make lasting lifestyle changes.
The experts at Harvard Health Publishing, for example, suggest switching to a vegetarian diet or a Mediterranean-style eating pattern. These dietary plans emphasize plant-based foods and may help protect against heart disease in the long run.
If you have obesity or overweight, you can work to lower your calorie intake to lose the extra pounds. Obesity is a major risk factor for clogged arteries. Consume fish at least twice a week and cut down on animal fats, recommends the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
Engage in regular exercise to keep your heart healthy and maintain a normal weight. Just make sure you consult your doctor beforehand, especially if you have cardiovascular problems.
Another important step is to quit smoking. This habit can damage your heart, lungs and arteries, so it's not worth the risk. You may have an occasional glass of wine or other alcoholic beverages, but try not to exceed one drink a day if you're a woman or two if you're a man. Start making these changes today — it's never too late to improve your heart health.
- NIH: "Atherosclerosis"
- American Heart Association: "Atherosclerosis"
- Mayo Clinic: "Coronary Artery Disease"
- Cleveland Clinic: "Coronary Artery Disease"
- American Heart Association: "About Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)"
- Journal of Evidence-Based Integrative Medicine: "Diabetes Control: Is Vinegar a Promising Candidate to Help Achieve Targets?"
- Nutrition Reviews: "Effect and Mechanisms of Action of Vinegar on Glucose Metabolism, Lipid Profile, and Body Weight"
- Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice: "Vinegar Consumption Can Attenuate Postprandial Glucose and Insulin Responses; A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Clinical Trials"
- Journal of Functional Foods: "Beneficial Effects of Apple Cider Vinegar on Weight Management, Visceral Adiposity Index and Lipid Profile in Overweight or Obese Subjects Receiving Restricted Calorie Diet: A Randomized Clinical Trial"
- Harvard.edu: "Ask the Doctor: Reversing Atherosclerosis?"
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: "Hardening of the Arteries"