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Apple Cider Vinegar: Cure-all or con?

Apple Cider Vinegar: Cure-all or con?

Cindy Crawford and Heidi Klum reportedly swear by it, Cleopatra is said to have sipped it daily and Megan Fox says it's the secret of her slender figure — so why haven't the rest of us heard of apple cider vinegar?

Apple cider vinegar is fast becoming the latest health craze, promoted as a cure-all that can do everything from getting rid of dandruff to assisting weight loss.

Celebrities have been quick to embrace it, but the general population seems sceptical, if they know about it at all.

But far from being a new creation, apple cider vinegar has been used to treat all manner of ailments for more than 3000 years. The ancient Egyptians wrote about it as a health tonic and it started appearing in Chinese writings around the same time.

Despite this, the medicinal value of apple cider vinegar wasn't widely reported until US doctor DC Jarvis published his book Folk Medicine: A Vermont doctor's guide to good health in 1958.

The book, where Dr Jarvis claimed apple cider vinegar could aid digestion and improve general wellbeing, became a bestseller and brought the product into the spotlight for the first time.

Today, apple cider vinegar is most often used as a weight-loss aid. Supermodels Cindy and Heidi, actress Megan and Black Eyed Peas singer Fergie all follow the apple cider vinegar diet, which involves consuming one to three teaspoons of vinegar before each meal.

The diet relies on apple cider vinegar's alleged ability to increase the metabolism and suppress the appetite.

In addition to aiding weight loss, apple cider vinegar has also been reported to help people with diabetes regulate their blood sugar levels, restore the body's alkaline acid balance, control dandruff, treat acne, reduce cholesterol, reduce acid reflux, ease arthritis and lower blood pressure.

It has also been found to have antiseptic and antibiotic properties and is high in vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, folic acid, niacin, carbohydrates and minerals such as calcium, magnesium and zinc.

Despite this, the actual health benefits of apple cider vinegar remain largely unproven. No major scientific research into its reputed advantages has been conducted and all claims of its efficiency are anecdotal.

Dieticians Association of Australia spokeswoman Denise Griffiths says apple cider vinegar has some health benefits, but is unlikely to help you drop a dress size.

"When it comes to weight loss, there isn’t a lot of evidence to say apple cider vinegar will help shift unwanted kilos – though for most people, adding a small amount to a healthy salad won’t do any harm," Denise says.

"When it comes to weight loss, what we do know is that cutting back our daily kilojoule intake and moving more is best strategy for long-term success."

Care must also be used when experimenting with apple cider vinegar as the undiluted liquid can burn the skin and damage tooth enamel and the tissues of the mouth and throat.

Anyone taking any form of medication should check with their doctor before taking apple cider vinegar.

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