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Ask Tufts Experts November 2016 Issue

Q. Will apple cider vinegar really improve blood pressure?

A. Jennifer Mayer, a dietetic intern at Tufts' Frances Stern Nutrition Center, replies: "Using apple cider vinegar for medical purposes dates as far back as Hippocrates' time. Back then people used it for antibacterial or antifungal reasons, but nowadays some claim that drinking two tablespoons a day has beneficial effects on weight, blood sugar, cholesterol and blood pressure." The data are currently insufficient to use apple cider vinegar to lower blood pressure, however.

"The thought that apple cider vinegar improves blood pressure is attributed to a few different theories. The first is due to its potassium content. Potassium helps lessen sodium’s negative effects on blood pressure. The recommended intake of potassium for an average adult is 4,700 milligrams a day. To put things in perspective, a small banana has about 350 milligrams of potassium, while two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar has about 20 milligrams - less than 1% of what an adult needs in a day.

"The second idea is the vinegar’s potential weight-lowering properties. Apple cider vinegar has been shown to delay gastric emptying and inhibit the enzymes that help digest starch, causing moderate weight loss. While any weight loss helps lower blood pressure, apple cider vinegar’s weight loss benefits remains poorly studied and only result in a few pounds lost over a few months' time.

"If adding apple cider vinegar to your diet, never drink it straight, talk to your doctor first and keep taking your regular blood pressure medications."

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