Eating vinegar before a meal, perhaps as part of an oil-and-vinegar salad dressing, could be greatly beneficial to people with diabetes or those at high risk of developing the disease.
According to the results of a study, two tablespoons of vinegar taken prior to eating dramatically reduced insulin and glucose spikes in the blood that occur after meals. In people with type 2 diabetes, these spikes can cause major complications, including heart disease.
Vinegar's effects were comparable to those from antidiabetes drugs like metformin, researchers said.
In the study, which involved 29 people, one-third had been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, one-third had signs that they could develop diabetes and one-third were healthy. Each individual was given either a vinegar dose or a placebo prior to eating a high-carbohydrate breakfast, and one week later were given the opposite drink and the same breakfast.
Results indicated that:
- All groups had better blood readings with the vinegar than with the placebo
- People with prediabetic symptoms benefited the most from the vinegar, with blood-glucose concentrations cut by almost half
- People with diabetes improved their blood-glucose levels by 25 percent with the vinegar
- People with prediabetic symptoms had lower blood-glucose levels than healthy participants after both drank vinegar
A follow-up study geared at testing vinegar's long-term effects also found that taking vinegar yielded a pleasant side effect: moderate weight loss. In the four-week study, half of participants took a two-tablespoon dose of vinegar prior to each of two meals daily, while the other half were told to avoid vinegar.
Participants taking the vinegar lost an average of two pounds over the four-week period, while weight remained constant in the non-vinegar group. And some participants taking vinegar lost up to four pounds.
The downside? Participants weren't fond of drinking vinegar, even flavored apple cider vinegar. In response, researchers are now developing an encapsulated form of vinegar and testing its effectiveness.
However, don't rush out to buy any of the vinegar dietary supplements currently on the market. According to the researchers, they don't contain acetic acid, which they suspect is the antidiabetic component in the vinegar.
Science News January 1, 2005;167(1)