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Apple Cider Vinegar and Heart Health

Introduction

Apple cider vinegar is a common ingredient in food preservatives and flavorings. Several studies have shown that it has many health benefits, such as weight management, control of blood sugar, and improved cholesterol.


Apple cider vinegar is an acidic substance with a sour taste. It is made from fermented apples. To make apple cider vinegar, apples are crushed and made to sit in yeast and water at room temperature for up to 30 days. During the sitting period, the sugars in the apples are converted into alcohol. The yeast facilitates the conversion. Finally, bacteria convert the alcohol into vinegar.

Image by Mike Goad from Pixabay

Apple cider vinegar has been used for centuries for the preservation and flavoring of food. Currently, there are claims that it may have some therapeutic properties.


This article will examine the effects of apple cider vinegar on lipid profile and heart health. We will also look at some of the side effects of apple cider vinegar and how we can use it for maximum health benefits.


Overview of lipid profile

Lipid profile is another name for lipid panel or complete cholesterol test. It can be used to determine the amount of good cholesterol and bad cholesterol in your blood. Clinicians also use the lipid profile to determine the number of triglycerides in your blood.


Cholesterol is a kind of fat, soft and waxy, required by your body to function optimally. But on the other hand, like all other things, too much of it may be dangerous to your health. Excess cholesterol can cause:

· Stroke

· Heart disease

· Atherosclerosis: a condition characterized by hardening or clogging of your arteries.

Men from 35 years and above should endeavor to have their cholesterol levels checked regularly. On the other hand, women may begin routine screening for cholesterol by 45 years or younger. You may opt to test for cholesterol level every five years beginning from 20 years of age. This will put you on the safer side. People diagnosed with chronic conditions like stroke, heart disease, diabetes, or hypertension, or those taking cholesterol-control medications, should check their cholesterol level yearly.


Who is at risk of a high lipid profile?

A lipid profile test is crucial for people in the following groups:

· Cigarette smokers

· Heavy drinkers

· People who are obese or overweight

· People with a family history of heart disease or high cholesterol

· People who lead a sedentary or an inactive lifestyle

· People with chronic conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome, kidney disease, diabetes, or underactive thyroid gland.

These factors have the potential to increase your risk of a high lipid profile.

What does a lipid profile measure?

It is worth mentioning that a lipid profile measures the amount of the four types of fats or lipids in your blood. These are:

· Total cholesterol: This refers to the total amount of cholesterol in your blood.

· High-density lipoprotein cholesterol: This is also known as “good” cholesterol. Good cholesterol is so-called because it helps to flush out LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) from your blood.

· Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol: This is the well-known “bad” cholesterol. Excess LDL cholesterol puts you at risk of stroke, atherosclerosis, and heart attack.

· Triglycerides: When you eat food, the calories not needed by your body are converted into triglycerides. These triglycerides are stored in your fat cells. Diabetic or overweight people or people who eat many sweets or drink too much alcohol can have very high triglyceride levels in their blood.


What does your lipid profile tell about your heart health?

HDL, LDL, and VLDL are lipoproteins that facilitate the transportation of cholesterol. Because cholesterol is fatty but insoluble, it will require carrier molecules to transport it to the target organs. This is where HDL, LDL, and VLDL come in handy. These molecules help in the transportation of cholesterol to target organs.

HDL eliminates the excess cholesterol present in the body. It does this by transporting this cholesterol to the target organs. LDL, on the other hand, does the exact opposite. It increases the concentration of cholesterol in your blood by transporting cholesterol away from your liver, leading to plaques and heart disease formation. Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol is formed from VLDL (Very low-density lipoprotein cholesterol). So, for your body to function at optimal levels, you must have more HDL than LDL and VLDL.

Excess body fat is stored as triglycerides. These triglycerides are broken down and used for energy production when you fast. Triglycerides and cholesterol combine to form plasma lipids. The plasma lipids are deposited along the walls of the blood vessels. Triglycerides, when in excess, can cause harm to the liver and heart health.

It is worth mentioning that this simple profiling helps determine your blood lipid levels, which in turn helps to evaluate your health, allowing you to take precautionary measures against potentially fatal health conditions. A lipid profile is usually done in the morning, after an 8–12-hour overnight fast.

If your lipid profile indicates that you are above the normal or are ‘borderline”, then you may need to take a few precautions. However, there is no need to panic. Instead, you may need to make slight modifications to your diet or lifestyle. That would mean controlling your weight, exercising adequately, eating foods that contain a lot of fiber and less fat.


How does apple cider vinegar affect your lipid profile and heart health?

Heart disease is one of the primary causes of death. Several factors increase a person’s risk for heart disease.

Studies have shown that vinegar can improve several heart disease risk factors. But then, most of these studies are animal-based.

These studies suggest that apple cider vinegar has the potential to lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels alongside other heart disease risk factors (123).

Some rodent studies have shown that vinegar is also helpful in blood pressure regulation. Vinegar lowers blood pressure, and high blood pressure is a primary risk factor for kidney problems and heart disease (45).

A 2012 study (6) published in the Life Science Journal also examined the influence of apple cider vinegar on blood lipids. 19 hyperlipidemia patients were involved in this quasi-experiment study. The subjects were referred to a cardiologist and agreed to take apple cider vinegar. At baseline, blood samples were obtained from the patients and used to evaluate cholesterol, triglyceride, LDL, and HDL levels. The tests were repeated at two, four, and eight weeks of vinegar consumption. The results showed that consumption of apple cider vinegar over 8 weeks caused a significant reduction in harmful blood lipids and is recommended as a simple and cost-effective treatment for hyperlipidemia.


Does apple cider vinegar have any side effects?

Yes, it does have a couple of side effects.

It is worth mentioning that apple cider vinegar is acidic. As such, regular consumption can weaken your tooth enamel. Tooth enamel is the outer surface of the teeth and is usually hard. The acid in this vinegar can also damage or irritate your throat when you take it frequently.

Also, the United States National Capital Poison Center (NCPC) has said that applying vinegar to your skin directly can cause irritation and burns. It also irritates and burns the eyes. As such, caution should be exercised when applying it to the scalp, hair, and face. It is also important to note that apple cider vinegar is not recommended for the treatment of wounds.

What is the best way to use apple cider vinegar?

No recommended amounts or safe limits have been set for apple cider vinegar. Therefore, you must consult your healthcare provider before using this substance.

The best way to consume apple cider vinegar is to use small amounts of it in your food and dressings.

If you are taking it directly, then you should dilute it with water. This will make it gentler and safer on your throat and teeth.

Mix a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar with a glass of water. It shouldn’t be taken more than two times daily.


Article sources

1. Fushimi, T., Suruga, K., Oshima, Y., Fukiharu, M., Tsukamoto, Y., & Goda, T. (2006). Dietary acetic acid reduces serum cholesterol, and triacylglycerols in rats fed a cholesterol-rich diet. The British journal of nutrition95(5), 916–924. https://doi.org/10.1079/bjn20061740

2. Setorki, M., Asgary, S., Eidi, A., Rohani, A. H., & Khazaei, M. (2010). Acute effects of vinegar intake on some biochemical risk factors of atherosclerosis in hypercholesterolemic rabbits. Lipids in health and disease9, 10. https://doi.org/10.1186/1476-511X-9-10

3. Halima, B. H., Sonia, G., Sarra, K., Houda, B. J., Fethi, B. S., & Abdallah, A. (2018). Apple Cider Vinegar Attenuates Oxidative Stress and Reduces the Risk of Obesity in High-Fat-Fed Male Wistar Rats. Journal of medicinal food21(1), 70–80. https://doi.org/10.1089/jmf.2017.0039

4. Na, L., Chu, X., Jiang, S., Li, C., Li, G., He, Y., Liu, Y., Li, Y., & Sun, C. (2016). Vinegar decreases blood pressure by down-regulating AT1R expression via the AMPK/PGC-1α/PPARγ pathway in spontaneously hypertensive rats. European journal of nutrition55(3), 1245–1253. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00394-015-0937-7

5. Kondo, S., Tayama, K., Tsukamoto, Y., Ikeda, K., & Yamori, Y. (2001). Antihypertensive effects of acetic acid and vinegar on spontaneously hypertensive rats. Bioscience, biotechnology, and biochemistry65(12), 2690–2694. https://doi.org/10.1271/bbb.65.2690

6. Beheshti, Zahra & Chan, Yiong & Sharif Nia, Hamid & Hajihosseini, Fatemeh & Nazari, Roghieh & Shaabani, Mohammad & Taghi, Mohammad & Omran, Salehi & Huak, Yiong. (2012). Influence of apple cider vinegar on blood lipids. Life Science Journal. 9. 2431–2440.

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