Despite its distinctively sour taste, apple cider vinegar is a popular home remedy due to its possible health benefits. Although the list of apple cider vinegar’s health benefits include potentially helping with blood sugar and weight loss, it doesn’t include blood pressure reduction—yet.
High blood pressure dramatically increases your risk for heart attack and stroke. It occurs when the force of blood flowing through your arteries is too high for too long.
Your blood pressure is given as two numbers. The upper number, systolic pressure, is the force your blood exerts against the artery walls while your heart beats. The lower number, diastolic pressure, gauges blood pressure between beats. A blood pressure of less than 120 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) systolic and less than 80 mm Hg diastolic is considered normal. High blood pressure Stage 1 is defined as 130-139 over 80-89 mm Hg.
The best ways to reduce high blood pressure—and your risk for its consequences like heart attacks and stroke—is to eat a healthy, low-sodium diet, get regular exercise, and drink alcohol only in moderation, among other lifestyle changes, and take blood pressure medication if prescribed. (Try these foods that help lower high blood pressure.)
So where does apple cider vinegar fit in? Here’s what the experts say and the science suggests.
Apple cider vinegar is made by crushing apples, pouring water over them, and leaving this mixture at room temperature until the natural sugars ferment and form ethanol. Bacteria then convert that into acetic acid. Available as liquids, shots, capsules, pills and/or gummies, apple cider vinegar is set to become a $1.46 billion industry by 2027, according to a report by Data Bridge Market Research.
But apple cider vinegar doesn’t have a proven role in reducing blood pressure, says Edwin K. McDonald, IV, MD, assistant professor of medicine and associate director of adult nutrition at the University of Chicago. “The evidence is very slim for apple cider vinegar and blood pressure reduction,” says Dr. McDonald, who is also a trained chef. “There aren’t any high-quality studies in people.”
“There are several studies in rodents suggesting that vinegar ingestion reduces blood pressure,” says Carol Johnston, RD, associate dean for faculty success and professor of nutrition at Arizona State University in Phoenix. “However, the few human trials that have been conducted are inconclusive.”
Animal and lab studies suggest that vinegar induces alterations in renin activity, and renin is an enzyme that increases blood pressure through vasoconstriction or narrowing of the arteries, Johnston explains. “Reducing renin activity in the body will lower blood pressure and is the basis for many of the hypertensive drugs,” she says. (Try these natural remedies for high blood pressure.)
Dr. McDonald adds that there is some evidence suggesting that apple cider vinegar can aid in weight loss and balance blood sugar levels, which helps control type 2 diabetes. Both diabetes and obesity are linked with a greater risk of high blood pressure as well as heart attack and stroke.
Overweight or obese people who consumed a total of two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar with lunch and dinner and took in 250 fewer calories per day, lost almost nine pounds, on average, over 12 weeks, according to a study published in 2018 in the . By contrast, their counterparts who did not receive apple cider vinegar lost five pounds during the study period.
“The apple cider vinegar decreases the rate at which your stomach empties so you feel fuller and eat less,” Dr. McDonald says. (Here are some other things to know about apple cider vinegar weight loss.)
In another study, published in 2019 in overweight people with type 2 diabetes who consumed two teaspoons of apple cider vinegar in a glass of water twice daily showed reduced blood glucose levels. Specifically, fasting blood glucose fell an average 10 milligrams per deciliter of blood (mg/dL ) after four weeks compared to an increase of 16 mg/dL in the study participants who did not consume apple cider vinegar.
Dr. McDonald adds that there are some other health benefits attributed to apple cider vinegar. “It has known antimicrobial properties, and if you are concerned about bacteria outbreaks in lettuce, using an apple cider vinegar-based dressing may make your salad safer,” he says.
“Individuals wishing to incorporate vinegar into their diets should add a spoonful of vinegar to a full glass of water and ingest it with meals,” Johnston says. “This simple protocol has repeatedly been demonstrated to benefit blood sugar concentrations.” (There is a right and wrong way to use apple cider vinegar. Don’t make these apple cider vinegar mistakes.)
While apple cider vinegar is safe, the acid can erode your dental enamel and increase the risk of cavities, Dr. McDonald says. This is the one negative consequence of apple cider vinegar that doesn’t get enough attention. (Learn more about apple cider vinegar and tooth enamel.)
What’s more, if you have chronic kidney disease—and many people with high blood pressure do—and drink too much apple cider vinegar, your kidneys may not be able to process the excess acid that comes along with it.
Among your kidneys’ main task is to maintain a normal acid base balance. When this doesn’t occur and the kidneys can’t remove enough acid, you can develop metabolic acidosis, which is linked to many health problems. Those include the brittle bone disease osteoporosis, advancing kidney disease, and other concerns, according to the National Kidney Foundation.
If you want to lower your blood pressure naturally, your best bet is to eat a healthy diet that is low in sodium, Dr. McDonald says.
“It’s really about eating a Mediterranean or plant-based diet, and the studies for this are way more robust than they are for apple cider vinegar and blood pressure reduction,” he says. The Mediterranean diet is rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins like fish, whole grains, and healthy fats. (Here’s how you can avoid high blood pressure.)
Another diet, the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) eating plan, is also commonly recommended as a way to lower blood pressure. DASH limits salt, red meat, and added sugar.
“One is also advised to adopt a healthful lifestyle—more exercise; more fruits and vegetables; fewer processed, fatty, and salty foods; fewer sweets and sugary beverages; more sleep—to help manage hypertension and other chronic conditions,” Johnston adds. (This is the best exercise for high blood pressure.)
While there is some evidence that apple cider vinegar may balance blood sugar and boost weight loss efforts, its effect on blood pressure is murkier. Apple cider vinegar should never replace lifestyle changes or medication, both of which are known to lower blood pressure and reduce the risk for heart attack and stroke.
Next, learn about when high blood pressure is an emergency.
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