We've evolved a bit beyond an-apple-a-day-keeps-the-doctor-away, but some of what people are saying about apple cider vinegar isn't far off. People have claimed it can help with weight loss, lowers blood sugar, improves heart health, and even cures cancer. So which, if any, of these promises can we believe?

First, what exactly is it? Apple cider vinegar is made from adding yeast to apple juice. The ensuing fermentation turns the fruit sugar to acetic acid, creating a new and basically calorie-free sour-tasting liquid that's been all the rage lately. Most people don't find it enjoyable to drink straight, so its most common food uses are as salad dressing, in cooking, or as added flavoring to a cup of tea or water.

But can it really lower your blood sugar? Tentatively, the answer may be yes. Though it's no replacement for traditional medication, a recent study found that diabetic patients given 20 grams of apple cider vinegar after a meal experienced significantly lower blood glucose levels than those given a placebo.

However, as far as heart health, the results are a little more dubious; though a few animal studies have indicated that apple cider vinegar has a lowering effect on cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood pressure, no such studies have been done on humans. We'll hold out for now on this one.

Any potential cancer-fighting properties of apple cider vinegar are also way too premature to put much stock in. A few studies done on isolated cells or in rats tentatively showed the ability of apple cider vinegar to shrink tumors, but we're way off from being able to use that insight to create any effective treatment.

Too much apple cider vinegar can also have some serious downsides. People with kidney disease may not be able to process the acid in apple cider vinegar, others experience digestive side effects, and overuse can cause dangerously low potassium levels.

However, if you stick to only one or two spoonfuls a day, you really may be doing yourself some favors. Apple cider vinegar contains the healthy B-vitamins and polyphenols (plant-based antioxidants ) you would normally get from apples without any of the sugar, and another recent study has proven that it can be an effective weight loss aid. When 2 groups of participants were given the same diet and exercise plan over a 12-week period, those in the group that were also given apple cider vinegar lost an average of 3.3 pounds more than those in the control group.

So apple cider vinegar is no magic cure-all by itself, but it is 123Diet approved and a great addition to the healthy road you're already on! So here are some of our favorite recipes featuring this special condiment to jump-start your great new habit!

Roasted Fruit and Vegetable Kabobs

Ingredients

  • 1 apple cut into large chunks
  • 1⁄4 onion cut into 1 inch petals
  • 1 tomato cut into chunks
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon crushed mint leaves
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon crushed cilantro leaves
  • Pinch of allspice
  • Stevia to taste

Directions

Marinate fruit and vegetables in lemon juice and vinegar with stevia and spices in the refrigerator for 20 minutes or more. Soak wooden skewers in water for five minutes. Layer chopped apple, onion petals, and tomato alternately on to skewers. Place on grill for 5-8 minutes or until desired level of doneness. Top with herbs and serve with lemon wedges. Makes 1 serving (1 fruit, 1 vegetable).

Savory Baked Red Onion Garnish

Ingredients

  • 1⁄2 red onion, cut into rings
  • 1⁄4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 bay leaf or pinch of bay leaf powder
  • 1 clove garlic crushed and minced
  • Pinch of dried basil and oregano (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Small amount of water

Directions

Put onion in a baking dish with apple cider vinegar, water, and spices. Bake at 375 for 10 minutes. Serve hot over beef or chicken or chill and add to salads. Can also be sautéed in a small frying pan deglazing periodically. Makes 4 servings.

Cold Chicory Salad

Ingredients

  • Chopped fresh chicory
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Bragg’s liquid aminos
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Chop chicory very fine. Stir in apple cider vinegar and lemon juice. Add salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste. Enjoy as a side dish or cool salad.

Phase 2 variations

Add tomatoes and chopped fresh mint or mix in a little orange juice. Add finely minced red onion and garlic or chopped apple and stevia. Makes 1 serving (1 vegetable).

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