Over the past 10 years, research has shown that some people with Type 2 diabetes may benefit from the consumption of two teaspoons of vinegar prior to a meal.That’s because vinegar has been found to inhibit the rise in blood sugar levels after meals.
According to studies performed by Carol Johnston, Ph.D., a professor of nutrition at Arizona State University in Tempe, vinegar decreases both fasting and post-meal glucose levels. The reason? It appears that acetic acid, the active ingredient in vinegar, inhibits the activity of several enzymes that break down carbohydrates, including amylase, sucrase, maltase and lactase. When this occurs, some sugars and starches may pass through the intestines without being digested, which lessens the impact on blood sugar.
Johnston’s initial studies included a group of participants with Type 2 diabetes as well as a group diagnosed with pre-diabetes. Among those with Type 2 diabetes, the effects of vinegar on blood sugar levels varied greatly but showed a small decrease in average A1C over a 12 week period. Those who benefited the most from daily vinegar consumption were the participants with pre-diabetes. In this group, vinegar reduced the rise in blood glucose one hour after a meal by about half.
Another surprising find during the research was that some who consumed a tablespoon of vinegar before lunch and dinner also lost an average of 2 pounds over 4 weeks. The trial also studied vinegar’s effect on cholesterol, but cholesterol values remained unchanged.
If drinking 2 teaspoons of straight vinegar sounds disgusting, the good news is there are plenty of tasty ways to incorporate vinegar into your daily diet.
1. Salad dressing. One of the easiest and most popular ways is to use an oil-and-vinegar dressing on salads. Any number of flavored vinegars will do the trick, such as balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar. Just be sure to avoid the fruity, sweet vinegars, as these can negate the healthful effects. Salad dressings should be about 50 to 75 percent vinegar. For more flavor, add spices such as garlic, oregano and basil.
2. Drizzle over steamed vegetables. Vinegar-based dressings are delicious over fresh steamed vegetables such as cauliflower, broccoli or green beans.
3. Marinate meat, chicken and fish. Vinegar is a natural tenderizer, so you’ll get tender, moist and flavorful meat and chicken.
4. Use it to dip bread. A combination of olive oil and balsamic vinegar is a healthy addition to whole grain breads. Better yet, try sourdough bread, which contains a substance that also seems to temper blood sugar levels.
5. Pickles. Low-sodium dill pickles and other veggies pickled or preserved in vinegar are another easy way to add a dash of vinegar to your diet.
When used in combination with diet, exercise and any diabetes medications prescribed by your doctor, two teaspoons of vinegar consumed with a meal may help lower post-meal blood glucose levels.