Dispelling nutrition myths, ranting, and occasionally, raving

Something sour: Vinegar and blood sugar control

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I saw this tweet: “Add 4 teaspoons of vinegar to your diet daily to lower your blood sugar. This may help prevent diabetes #OzTip” from Dr Oz the other day and I immediately thought “blog fodder!”

Googling the subject of vinegar and blood sugar and diabetes, I thought maybe there was something to this lower effect of vinegar on blood sugar after all. WebMD said:

The effect of vinegar on blood sugar levels is perhaps the best researched and the most promising of apple cider vinegar’s possible health benefits. Several studies have found that vinegar may help lower glucose levels.

However, they carry on to state that:

a 2007 study of 11 people with type 2 diabetes found that taking two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar before bed lowered glucose levels in the morning by 4%-6%.

Umm… if this is the best evidence they could come up with then I’m not so sure about using vinegar to lower blood sugar. 11 is an extremely small sample size. As it turns out, most of the evidence supporting the use of vinegar for blood sugar control comes from very small studies. I found one study that compared the consumption of vinegar, vinegar pills, and pickles in 27 people (so, only nine in each treatment group). They found that vinegar had a modest (0.16% in HbA1c) lowering effect on the morning blood sugar of participants while those consuming pickles and vinegar pills actually saw a slight increase in HbA1c. The other study I found was even worse. It included only 11 participants (I think that this is the one the WebMD article was referring to). They found that fasting blood sugar was reduced by 2% in the control group and 4% in the group ingesting vinegar at bedtime. I also think it’s interesting to note that this footnote accompanied the study:

The costs of publication of this article were defrayed in part by the payment of page
charges. This article must therefore be hereby marked “advertisement” in accordance
with 18 U.S.C Section 1734 solely to indicate this fact.

Yes, these results are interesting but with such small sample sizes they’re essentially meaningless. Until larger studies are able to produce similar results I don’t think that advising anyone to consume vinegar at bedtime for blood sugar control is prudent.

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Author: Diana

I'm a registered dietitian from Nova Scotia, living and working in Ontario, Canada. My goal is to help people relearn how to have a healthy relationship with food.

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