Lately, it seems like everyone’s been raving about apple cider vinegar. In fact, there’s even an apple cider vinegar diet—as if there weren’t already enough diet fads. Proponents of this miracle elixir claim that it helps your body get rid of stubborn belly fat, shed those unwanted pounds, reduce blood sugar levels, and lower cholesterol.

While this all sounds nice, what does the science say? Is there scientific evidence to substantiate these claims?

What about the apple cider vinegar diet? What is it? Has it really been shown to help people lose weight? What, if any, are the potential risks associated with this diet? Read on for a discussion about apple cider vinegar and how it can help you lower your blood sugar, reduce cholesterol, and lose weight.

What Is Apple Cider Vinegar?

All vinegars are made using a process which is very similar in nature to how alcohol is made. First, yeast is added to fresh apples or apple cider. Then, as the yeast breaks down the sugars in the apple cider, the mixture undergoes fermentation and turns into alcohol.

Next, more bacteria is added to the alcohol to increase fermentation. This results in acetic acid, which is the ingredient that is most abundant in apple cider vinegar.

Does Apple Cider Vinegar Really Help You Lose Weight?

First and foremost, many have touted apple cider vinegar as an effective solution for weight loss. Though many people feel it is yet another diet fad, there is actually scientific evidence to support this claim.

At the central Research Institute in Japan, a double-blind study was conducted to see if apple cider vinegar was effective for weight loss beyond the placebo effect.

Kondo et al. separated the study participants into three groups. All the participants were similar in waist circumference, body mass index, and weight. The first group drank a 500-milliliter—16.9 oz.—beverage which contained 15 ml—0.5 oz.—of apple cider vinegar, with the rest being water. The second group drank the same beverage with 30 ml—1 oz.—of vinegar. The last group, which served as the control, drank the same beverage with no vinegar.

After twelve weeks, the researchers found that both the groups who drank the vinegar-and-water solution daily had a significantly lower body mass index, reduced waist circumference, decreased belly fat, and lowered serum triglyceride levels.

How Does the Diet Work?

Unlike many other so-called diets, this diet is pretty easy to follow, provided you have a normal diet that is full of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and adequate amounts of fat. Simply take either 2-3 teaspoons or 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar diluted in eight ounces of water before each meal. That’s it.

Experts theorize that the pectin, a type of fiber found in apples, helps you feel fuller sooner. This leads to less overeating and a reduction in total calories consumed.

The apple cider vinegar also helps your body absorb more nutrients from the protein and fats in your diet. This is done more efficiently and faster with apple cider vinegar than a diet that doesn’t incorporate it. This leads to an increased metabolic rate and increased energy throughout the day.

As always, check with your healthcare provider or doctor before embarking on any new diet regimen. Be sure to dilute the apple cider vinegar before using it, as undiluted vinegar can strip the enamel off your teeth and/or cause burns in your throat and mouth.