Ten minutes into your favorite TV soap and a commercial pops up onscreen dramatically urging you to swap your brand of cooking oil for theirs because it’s certifiably low in cholesterol. A peek into your morning newspaper and you see a new brand of butter urging you to usher in its cholesterol-free healthfulness into your diet. These media would have you believe cholesterol is the greatest obstacle in your pursuit of good health. But is it really?
What Is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a waxy fat-like substance found in the cells of our body. It is produced by the body but also found in many of our food sources. Cholesterol in itself isn’t bad at all. It is, in fact, required for the body. Without cholesterol, your body can’t produce the steroidal hormones, including testosterone and progesterone. Cholesterol is also essential to synthesize vitamin D in the body as well as bile acids, which aid in digestion. But an excess of cholesterol in the body becomes harmful as it clogs arteries and restricts blood flow.
Since cholesterol is not water soluble, it binds itself to protein receptors in the blood stream to travel around the body, forming lipoproteins. Based on the protein and lipid proportion of this combination, there are broadly two types of cholesterol: high-density lipoproteins (HDL), which contain more protein than cholesterol; and low-density lipoproteins (LDL), with less protein than cholesterol.
LDLs, commonly known as “bad” cholesterol, oxidize in the blood stream and lead to the formation of thick, hard deposits called plaque. Eventually, plaque clogs up the arteries, leading to atherosclerosis, which is characterized by high blood pressure and blood clots. When the coronary arteries suffer from atherosclerosis, chances of a heart attack or stroke increase manifold.1
The HDLs, or the “good” cholesterols, on the other hand, transport LDL cholesterol deposits to the liver so that they can be flushed out of the body. When there’s more LDL than HDL, the body becomes vulnerable to many diseases, including cardiovascular ones. Another group of fats measured along with cholesterol is triglycerides (TGs).
According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, “The combination of high levels of triglycerides with low HDL cholesterol or high LDL cholesterol can increase your risk of heart attack and stroke.”2
What Is ACV And How Can It Control Bad Cholesterol?
Apple cider vinegar, also known as ACV, is made by fermenting apple juice and pulp into alcoholic cider, which is then re-fermented to form vinegar or acetic acid. Touted as a super food, it has been said to cure multiple ailments, from acid reflux to urinary tract infections, and aid in weight loss.
1. Reduces Bad-Cholesterol And Increases Good-Cholesterol Levels
Numerous studies show that consuming ACV can help reduce cholesterol levels. In one study on normal and diabetic rats, ACV reduced LDLs and increased HDLs in normal rats, which shows its efficacy as a cholesterol-normalizing agent. In the diabetic rats, it reduced the levels of triglycerides and increased the number of HDLs. The study concludes that ACV can help manage diabetic complications. 3
Another study on 19 human subjects with hyperlipidemia, or high cholesterol and triglyceride levels, also showed a significant reduction in LDL and triglycerides after the subjects consumed ACV for eight weeks.4
2. Inhibits Buildup Of Plaque In Your Arteries
If the ratio of good to bad cholesterols in your body is low, plaque can build up in the arteries, leading to thickening of arterial walls, clogging and blockage (atherosclerosis). A study on rabbits showed that vinegar reduced atherosclerosis processes in the group that was given a high-cholesterol diet.5
Since vinegar is the chief constituent of ACV, we can reason that ACV is effective in bringing down risks of atherosclerosis. Moreover, another study finds that apple juice itself is effective in preventing the progress of atherosclerosis.6
3. Fights Oxidative Stress
A major factor in both the onset and the progression of atherosclerosis is oxidative stress caused by free radical damage. Oxidative stress is a condition that arises when the body is unable to fight free radical damage. A study propounds that ACV has the ability to scavenge free radicals and prevent oxidative stress, inhibit lipid peroxidation, and increase the levels of antioxidant enzymes and vitamin.7 In fact, a study shows that the ethanol extract of apple peel, rich in these antioxidants, inhibited lipid peroxidation in rats on a high-cholesterol diet.8
These studies show that the natural goodness of apples and vinegar work together in the form of ACV to combat lipid peroxidation by supplying the much-needed antioxidants.
4. Reduces LDL Oxidation
The other cause is the oxidation of LDLs. It is postulated that ACV gets its anti-oxidative properties from its constituent flavonoids like quercetin, catechin, phloridzin, and chlorogenic acid. Research suggests that consuming these polyphenolic natural antioxidants, such as chlorogenic acid, may inhibit the oxidation of LDLs.9
How To Have ACV
Drinking concentrated ACV could be quite a disconcerting experience. Apart from the pungent taste, it could also be very harmful to your teeth and insides due to its acidic nature. You can mix 1–2 teaspoons of ACV in a glass of lukewarm water and have it in the morning. Alternatively, you could add a tablespoon of ACV to your salad dressing or vinaigrette as your daily dose of this superfood to keep your cholesterol in check.
|↑1||”Plaque Formation.” The University of Toronto. Accessed July 28, 2016.|
|↑2||”LDL and HDL: “Bad” and “Good” Cholesterol.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. March 16, 2015. Accessed July 06, 2016.|
|↑3||Shishehbor, F., A. Mansoori, AR Sarkaki, MT Jalali, and SM Latifi. “Apple Cider Vinegar Attenuates Lipid Profile in Normal and Diabetic Rats.” Europe PMC. 2008. Accessed July 22, 2016.|
|↑4||Beheshti, Zahra, Y. Huak Chan, H. Sharif Nia, Fatemeh Hajihosseini, Rogheyeh Nazari, and Mohammad Shaabani. “Influence of apple cider vinegar on blood lipids.” Life Sci J 9, no. 4 (2012): 2431-40.|
|↑5||Setorki, Mahbubeh, Sedighe Asgary, Shaghayegh Haghjooyjavanmard, and Bahar Nazari. “Reduces cholesterol induced atherosclerotic lesions in aorta artery in hypercholesterolemic rabbits.” Journal of Medicinal Plants Research 5, no. 9 (2011):1518–1525.|
|↑6||Setorki, Mahbubeh, Sedighe Asgary, Akram Eidi, and Nafiseh Esmaeil. “Effects of apple juice on risk factors of lipid profile, inflammation and coagulation, endothelial markers and atherosclerotic lesions in high cholesterolemic rabbits.” Lipids in health and disease 8, no. 1 (2009): 1|
|↑7||Nazıroğlu, Mustafa, Mustafa Güler, Cemil Özgül, Gündüzalp Saydam, Mustafa Küçükayaz, and Ercan Sözbir. “Apple cider vinegar modulates serum lipid profile, erythrocyte, kidney, and liver membrane oxidative stress in ovariectomized mice fed high cholesterol.” The Journal of membrane biology 247, no. 8 (2014): 667–673.|
|↑8||Leontowicz, Maria, Shela Gorinstein, Hanna Leontowicz, Ryszard Krzeminski, Antonin Lojek, Elena Katrich, Milan Cíz et al. “Apple and pear peel and pulp and their influence on plasma lipids and antioxidant potentials in rats fed cholesterol-containing diets.” Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 51, no. 19 (2003): 5780–5785.|
|↑9||Laranjinha, João AN, Leonor M. Almeida, and Vitor MC Madeira. “Reactivity of dietary phenolic acids with peroxyl radicals: antioxidant activity upon low density lipoprotein peroxidation.” Biochemical pharmacology 48, no. 3 (1994): 487–494.|