Q. I have heard many differing opinions about the possible health benefits of feeding horses vinegar. Is vinegar good for horses to consume?
—Nicole Livingston, via email
A. Vinegar in small amounts is fine for horses. It helps acidify the urinary tract, which might be helpful for some horses prone to urinary tract stones.
I suggest no more than a cup a day and use raw apple cider vinegar with the “mother” in it. The mother (mycoderma aceti) is a culture of cellulose and acetic acid bacteria used to ferment cider or wine into vinegar. The mother will look cloudy at the bottom of the bottle and is an excellent source of live microbials.
Start by adding a tablespoon of the vinegar to the horse’s feed twice daily. Gradually work toward 1/2 cup to each feeding (two feedings per day) for a total of one cup per day.
While there are no current studies on the use of vinegar in horses, research carried out in other species suggests that it could have health benefits.
In 2004, a study1 cited in the American Diabetes Foundation’s publication Diabetes Care found that taking vinegar before meals significantly increased insulin sensitivity and dramatically reduced the insulin and glucose spikes that occur after meals. The study involved 29 people, divided into three groups:
- One third had been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes;
- One third had prediabetic signs; and
- One third were healthy.
The results were quite significant:
- All three groups had better blood glucose readings with the vinegar than with a placebo.
- People with prediabetic symptoms benefitted the most from the vinegar, cutting their blood glucose concentrations by nearly half.
- People with diabetes improved their blood glucose levels by 25% with vinegar.
- People with prediabetic symptoms had lower blood glucose than the healthy participants after both drank vinegar.
In animals, a 2006 study2 showed that vinegar could lower cholesterol in laboratory rats. Another study3 on rats found their blood pressure could be lowered by the acetic acid in vinegar.
1 Johnston, CS, Kim, CM, Buller, AJ. 2004. Vinegar improves insulin sensitivity to a high-carbohydrate meal in subjects with insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care 27(January): 281-282
2 Fushimi T, Suruga K, Oshima Y, Fukiharu M, Tsukamoto Y, Goda T. 2006. Dietary acetic acid reduces serum cholesterol and triacylglycerols in rats fed a cholesterol-rich diet. British Journal of Nutrition (May)95(5):916-924
3 Kondo S, Tayama K, Tsukamoto Y, Ikeda K, Yamori Y. 2001. Antihypertensive effects of acetic acid and vinegar on spontaneously hypertensive rats. Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry 65(12) 2690-2694.