Apple cider vinegar - what are the health benefits?

If I had a penny for every time I’m asked “Cider Vinegar, that’s really good for you isn’t it?” I could have given up making the stuff years ago.

My father had huge success in the health food trade of the 1970’s, selling a wonderful fruity and aromatic organic cyder vinegar, the recipe of which and the way it is made having changed little since then.

Back in those days, Aspall Organic Cyder Vinegar was first and foremost a health remedy, with a secondary use for cooking. I remember as a youth, going to Brighton with my parents for “Helfex”, rubbing shoulders with many of the leading lights of the industry and hearing about all the remarkable cures cyder vinegar bestowed. I even met the author and self-proclaimed doyenne of the health food trade Barbara Cartland, a great supporter of Aspall, and who appeared to have taken a bit of a shine to my father.

Some of the most prominent cures extolled about cyder vinegar included arthritis, rheumatism, ulcerative colitis, weight loss, blood pressure stabilising, cholesterol reduction... The list runs on – you can even wash your hair in it, something my mother still does to this day. Her hair looks great. When you read all about it, you quickly come to the conclusion that this a miracle product – it can do anything, and means consumers don’t have to resort to costly pharmaceuticals that can have all sorts of perceived unwelcome side effects.

But this is where we have to be a little careful; none of the reported health benefits of taking cider vinegar regularly have ever been medically proven.

But this is where we have to be a little careful; none of the reported health benefits of taking cider vinegar regularly have ever been medically proven. And despite some recent investigations into the its benefits – most notably the BBC’s “Trust me I’m a Doctor” and Channel 4’s “Food Unwrapped” – if the health benefits haven’t been medically proven, it is actually illegal to make these claims; if you do, you do so at the risk of incurring a large fine for misleading consumers. Whilst we never had to pay a fine, slowly but surely through the ‘80’s and into the 90’s we had to stop making any claims about the health benefits of cider vinegar. That side of our communication was systematically shut down by other – proven – cures and the makers of them.

I kind of get it; our pharma competitors have to spend millions in clinical trials proving both the efficacy of their remedies and their fitness for consumption. If those rules apply to them, why not to alternative health remedies; at least as far the efficacy bit is concerned – but I think we can all be pretty comfortable about cider vinegar’s fitness for consumption after a few millennia of usage. If it was good enough for Hippocrates

Needless to say, it’s never a level playing field; in America – to my utter amazement – you CAN make these claims around health food remedies without having clinically proven them. So we as a business, along with our European counterparts, face the disadvantage of competing with products not governed by the same rules as us that can legitimately make the claim; meanwhile, we have to sit on our hands over such matters.

Fortunately, there are still plenty of flag bearers for apple cyder vinegar in the nutrition, alternative health and blogging communities. We have had so many letters over the years thanking us and our cyder vinegar for curing debilitating conditions, that we feel there must be something in it. The whole family takes it every day and guess what, no arthritis or rheumatism, blood pressure issues, obesity, high cholesterol, or IBS up and down the generations.

I’m guessing that the truth of our all-round well-being is based in no small part to a healthy and balanced lifestyle; I do yoga every day, walk across the orchards to work whenever I can, eat a healthy balanced diet with plenty of fresh veg. And so on and so on. Do I believe cyder vinegar is an elixir? Of course I do, but only as part of the whole.

So, given so much is written and claimed about the health benefits of cyder vinegar, and given that we cannot actually tell you about them with authority as that would be illegal, we have set up a board on our Pinterest account called “Vital Vinegar”. Here we will be pinning articles by leading nutritionists and alternative health therapists about various ailments that cyder vinegar is believed to help with. You will be able to go here and see what is being said; and in the interests of fair play – it is all about the balance after all – anything we come across that with sound basis refutes the wonders of cyder vinegar, we’ll pin these too.

Eat well, live well – and stay open-minded, whichever side of the debate you sit on.