Vinegar – a simple household product – has a long history on our planet, dating back to at least 5000 BC. Its many purposes include preserving, flavoring, pickling and medicinal use. It has a rich history in ancient Africa, China and Greece as a health aid. Apple cider vinegar has antimicrobial and antioxidant abilities, and there is some research available to back up some wellness claims of its benefits.
What is Apple Cider Vinegar?
When you combine apples, sugar, and yeast and let it ferment, you create apple cider vinegar. Over several weeks, the yeast will digest the sugar to produce alcohol. Once that happens, natural bacteria will turn the alcohol into acetic acid, which is where the pungent smell and taste of apple cider vinegar comes from.
You have two options when buying apple cider vinegar: filtered and pasteurized or raw and unfiltered. The cloudy sediment that collects at the bottom of the bottle is “the mother,” which is a combination of bacteria and yeast. Some speculate that the mother is what provides the health benefits, as it contains trace amounts of healthy bacteria and probiotics.
Apple cider vinegar can be used in the kitchen, around the house and for your health as:
- Dressing or vinaigrette
- Facial toner
- Washing of fruit and vegetables
- Denture cleaner
- Rinse your hair
- Dandruff treatment
- Weed killer
4 benefits of apple cider vinegar
While more research is needed, several small to medium-sized studies show apple cider vinegar’s benefits for certain health concerns and as a potential weight loss aid.
It can help control blood sugar and diabetes
Up to 95 percent of diabetics have type 2 diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Type 2 diabetes occurs due to insulin resistance or the body’s inability to produce insulin.
Even if you don’t have diabetes, it’s helpful to keep your blood sugar levels in the normal range. Studies have shown that apple cider vinegar can improve insulin response and lower blood sugar levels after meals.
Consuming apple cider vinegar before bed has also been shown to reduce fasting blood sugar after waking up. Be sure to talk to your doctor before consuming ACV if you have diabetes, especially if you are on any medications.
Kills harmful bacteria
Those looking to preserve food naturally might consider using apple cider vinegar. It is a known pathogen killer, which includes microbes such as staph and candida.
Vinegar is a popular preservative in Korea, as it can prevent E. coli and norovirus from growing in food. E. coli can cause food poisoning when consumed, but the bactericidal effects of the acetic acid in apple cider vinegar can prevent it from happening.
It could lead to weight loss
Another benefit of apple cider vinegar that may be beneficial is its ability to help. When taken before or with a meal, ACV has been shown to help with satiety or feelings of fullness.
In one study, participants ate 200 to 275 fewer calories when apple cider vinegar was combined with a meal. Over a three-month period, participants taking one to two tablespoons of ACV daily saw up to 3.7 pounds of weight loss and a reduction in body fat.
It may improve cholesterol levels
High cholesterol and triglyceride levels can increase the risk of heart disease.
Incorporating up to an ounce of apple cider vinegar into your day, along with a low-calorie diet, can reduce total cholesterol and triglycerides while also raising HDL “good” cholesterol.
Those with type 2 diabetes can also see positive results on their total cholesterol and triglyceride levels when they add a half gram of ACV to their diet.
Potential side effects
While there are benefits to using apple cider vinegar, there are potential side effects to consider as well. High acidity can strip tooth enamel, which won’t come back once it’s gone. And it can cause damage to your esophagus or throat if you drink it undiluted.
Here are some other potential side effects of apple cider vinegar:
- May cause hypokalemia (low potassium levels)
- It can interact with diuretics, insulin and other drugs
- May cause nausea or vomiting
Washing it down with water or juice not only makes ACV more palatable, but it can also reduce the risk of damaging your throat and teeth. Combining a spoonful or two with both can also cure an upset stomach.
Dosage of apple cider vinegar
The dosage of apple cider vinegar depends on why you’re using it. Two teaspoons to two tablespoons is the general dosage recommendation.
If you want to drink it, dilute it with water or your favorite juice or tea. You can also eat it by incorporating it into your favorite foods, especially dressings, vinaigrettes, and even when making your own mayonnaise.
You can also add a cup or two to a bath for skin concerns. Mixing one tablespoon of ACV with one cup of water, then dipping a gauze or cotton ball into the solution can make a moist compress.
To use apple cider vinegar as a hair rinse, combine up to two tablespoons with one cup of water, then pour over hair after shampooing. Wait 5 minutes, then rinse. It can dry out, so use sparingly. ACV can also irritate the scalp, so a weaker dilution may be better.
While some studies have found ACV benefits, we need more research to definitively prove how beneficial ACV is. It can help with weight loss, control type 2 diabetes, blood sugar and cholesterol, and can even prevent the growth of harmful bacteria on foods. However, drinking undiluted apple cider vinegar can lead to erosion of tooth enamel or damage to the throat. Mixing ACV with water or juice before consuming it can prevent damage to your teeth and throat. As with any natural remedy, talk to your doctor before trying apple cider vinegar, and do a skin test before using it on your skin.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a doctor or other qualified healthcare professional with any questions you may have about a medical condition or health goals.