FYI Living - by Denine Stracker R.N.

The sour taste of vinegar just got a little bit sweeter for the 25.8 million Americans currently living with diabetes and struggling to control their blood sugar levels.

Over the past two decades, numerous studies have suggested that acetic acid, the active ingredient in vinegar, improves postprandial (after-eating) blood glucose levels, increases feelings of fullness and curbs appetite.

In a 2007 study, researchers found that consuming 20 grams of apple cider vinegar along with a buttered bagel and juice improved insulin sensitivity among type 2 diabetes and insulin-sensitive patients, as compared with a placebo group. Researchers from Arizona State University found that consuming 2 tsp. of vinegar with a meal reduced postprandial glucose by about 20 percent. The benefits of vinegar were best realized when paired with complex carbohydrates, rather than food sweetened with corn syrups or sugars.

Another study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2005, tested blood glucose response and the feeling of fullness among 12 healthy volunteers. After an overnight fast, those who consumed the higher dose of vinegar in the morning along with a piece of bread, reported feeling full up to two hours later and showed greater improvement in blood glucose up to 40 minutes later.

The Glycemic Index (GI) measures the effect of carbohydrate digestion on blood sugar levels. The lower numbers on the scale suggest a slower rate of digestion and absorption, which is beneficial to blood glucose control. In Japan, Dr. M. Sugiyama found that the GI of a white rice meal was lowered by 25 to 35 percent when vinegar was added. In a recent study of 16 patients with type 2 diabetes, researchers found that when patients consumed a high-GI meal verses low-GI meal, the vinegar had a greater effect in reducing postprandial glucose levels.

Larger trials are needed to confirm the effect of vinegar on blood glucose responses, and to determine the appropriate dosing to maximize benefits and establish timing of delivery. What we do know for now is that a salad of fresh fruits and vegetables topped with olive oil and vinegar is always a good choice no matter the science.

Here’s a few more ways to incorporate vinegar into your diet:
• Dress your salad with 2 tsp. vinegar with 1 tsp. olive oil.
• Add 2 tsp. of vinegar to hot tea with lemon.
• Marinate meats in vinegar as a method of tenderizing.
• Add 2 tbsp. vinegar plus 1 tbsp. olive oil over roasted or steamed vegetables.
• Try varying flavors by using apple cider, balsamic and red wine vinegars.
• Consume vinegar during mealtimes for best results and minimal discomfort.

Always remember that the above dietary recommendations should not replace medications or diet therapy as prescribed by your physician or dietitian.

To learn more about this topic:
What Can Vinegar Do for Diabetes?
Ask an Expert: What About Apple Cider Vinegar?
Discussion: Benefits of Vinegar