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Student explores vinegar's benefits

TAMPA, Fla. -- For many undergraduate researchers, it’s easier to immerse themselves in projects that hit close to home. Melanie Kantor, a biomedical sciences senior, uses this reason for her passion toward the undergraduate research she conducted at USF.

Kantor researched the effects of vinegar consumption on weight loss. Her hope is to eliminate costly and risky fad dieting by encouraging people to drink apple cider vinegar instead of resorting to expensive diets that require you to purchase pre-determined meal plans or engage in unhealthy eating behaviors.

“Most of the time people use it for cleaning and cooking and most people already have it in their cabinet and if not, you can go to the store and buy it for under three dollars,” Kantor said.

The idea for her research sprang from a family tradition of drinking two ounces of apple cider vinegar a day, with a meal to keep cholesterol levels down. Her father had high cholesterol levels and within a month of drinking the vinegar, his levels decreased significantly and he lost weight.

The weight loss is what intrigued Kantor. Weight loss alone can lead to lower cholesterol and blood pressure levels so she set out to find out more.

Kantor found a study from the American Chemical Society that used two groups of mice to test the vinegar theory. Both groups were fed high fat diets but the group fed acetic acid, vinegar, had 10 percent less body fat than the control group.

Another study at Arizona State University used two groups of human participants. The first group ingested four tablespoons of apple cider vinegar daily for one month and the other group ingested a placebo they thought was vinegar. Each subject who took the vinegar lost half a pound of weight a week on average while the control group did not lose weight.

Other studies showed vinegar to be effective in standardizing blood glucose levels.

“In some of these studies, some people even started losing weight without changing their lifestyle so if someone did this and also changed their diet, it’s amazing what could happen,” Kantor said.

Vinegar tonics also date back through time, with the Greek Hypocrites, considered the father of modern medicine, said to have prescribed vinegar and honey to treat a number of ailments.

“For someone who doesn’t like the taste of vinegar, you can mix it with honey so it doesn’t taste as acidic,” Kantor said. “It buffers the taste.”

Surprisingly, there don’t seem to be any proven negative health effects, Kantor said.

In the studies, no harm was done to the microvilli of the small intestine, microscopic cellular membrane protrusions that increase the surface area of cells, aiding in absorption of nutrients. The only recommendation is to not take it on an empty stomach, to eat it with a meal.

“My family likes to try different things before we resort to medicine, not only because of cost but because of the other health risks,” Kantor said. “To this day, my father’s cholesterol levels are still in balance.”

Kantor also drinks apple cider vinegar daily to keep her weight and cholesterol in check. She said that she hopes other college students in her situation try to incorporate this simple health measure into their daily routine instead of trying fad diets that hurt their health and their pocketbook.

About $40 billion a year is spent annually in America on fad dieting, according to her research. Using vinegar, Kantor said, saves both money and time people devote to diet programs or workouts for weight loss.

Kantor’s exposure to the lab and different types of research have inspired her to incorporate that into her career plans as a medical doctor. She’s even delayed her graduation to the summer instead of this spring to do original research at the Moffitt Cancer Center.


Filed under:Arts and Sciences Chemistry Student Success Research School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics 
Author: Daylina Miller