Some scientists and experts say the secret to lowering your blood sugar could be lurking in your pantry.
If you drink apple cider vinegar (ACV) or eat a salad with vinaigrette before meals, it could help keep blood sugar balanced, the scientists say.
Why it’s important to control insulin
Blood sugar control is a focus of diabetes management. “For those with diabetes, it is especially important to maintain stable blood sugar because that will reduce the likelihood of diabetic complications such as neuropathy or nerve damage, retinopathy or visual damage and kidney damage,” says Dr. Akil Palanisamy, a Harvard-trained physician.
But providers say everyone can benefit from keeping their insulin in check.
“[High blood sugar] can lead to several serious health issues including Type 2 diabetes, obesity, stroke, heart disease, metabolic issues and chronic inflammation,” says Dr. Daniel A. Monti, an integrative medicine physician.
“These conditions are problematic because they can damage the blood vessels, nerves, and organs and thus significantly impact an individual’s overall health and well-being.”
If you need to lower blood sugar, drinking apple cider vinegar or eating a salad with vinaigrette before a big meal may indeed be a good idea.
“There is no conclusive evidence to date, but the preliminary data suggests that consuming apple cider vinegar may help to control blood sugar levels, especially in those with insulin resistance,” says Dr. Monti.
“Studies have shown that apple cider vinegar may help to lower blood sugar levels after a meal by slowing down the digestion of carbohydrates and increasing insulin sensitivity in the body,” Monti added.
That preliminary data includes a 2004 study in Diabetes, the American Diabetes Association’s peer-reviewed journal. In the study, researchers found that vinegar significantly improved post-meal insulin sensitivity in insulin-resistant participants.
Why might apple cider vinegar reduce insulin spikes?
“It is thought that ACV may slow down the digestion of carbohydrates, which, in turn, reduces the rate at which glucose enters the bloodstream,” says Dr. Monti. “This slower release of glucose may reduce the amount of insulin the body needs to produce to regulate blood sugar levels.”
Dr. Monti adds that apple cider vinegar has acetic acid (vinegar), which studies have found may lower blood sugar.
And other research, including a randomized clinical trial from 2018, has found that consuming apple cider vinegar can help in weight management, something usually suggested to people trying to manage or prevent Type 2 diabetes.
“Additionally, the same study found that regular ACV consumption reduced triglycerides and improved levels of HDL cholesterol,” Dr. Pompa pointed out. “Combined with improving insulin sensitivity, which is crucial to losing weight and keeping it off for good, ACV is a critical component in any weight loss program.”
Who shouldn’t try ACV for blood sugar management?
Generally, attempting to use ACV to prevent post-meal insulin spikes is safe. But experts share some patients should not try it, and it’s always a good idea to speak with a healthcare provider first.
“Those with chronic kidney disease who are often on low potassium diets should not drink apple cider vinegar because of its potassium content,” says Dr. Palanisamy.
There are also some other drawbacks to consuming ACV. “Apple cider vinegar can damage your tooth enamel,” says Dr. Palanisamy, who suggests rinsing your mouth with water post-consumption.
Other ways to reduce blood sugar
ACV alone won’t solve blood sugar issues. And it may not be something you want to or can try, so Dr. Monti shares other ways to prevent insulin spikes.
Consuming a balanced diet. Dr. Monti suggests reducing your intake of processed foods and refined carbs and opting for food packed with fiber, protein and healthy fats (like olive oil).
Exercising regularly. “Physical activity can help to improve insulin sensitivity and promote glucose uptake by muscle cells,” says Dr. Monti.
Managing stress levels. Meditation, deep breathing and yoga can help you relax, suggests Dr. Monti.
Getting enough sleep. “Lack of sleep can disrupt insulin levels and increase the risk of insulin resistance,” says Dr. Monti.
Staying hydrated. Dehydration can trigger an increase in blood sugar levels.
Seeking appropriate medical care when necessary. A provider can help provide you with customized tips to manage blood sugar.