By Rachael Link, MS, RD
Despite its recent surge in popularity, the extensive list of apple cider vinegar benefits has been well-known for centuries. It’s been shown to keep blood sugar in check, amp up weight loss and even improve the appearance of acne and scarring.
Apple cider vinegar (or ACV) is made from apple cider that has undergone fermentation to form health-promoting probiotics and enzymes, giving it significantly less sugar and fewer calories than apple cider or apple juice. In fact, it only takes one to two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to take advantage of the health benefits of apple cider vinegar and each tablespoon clocks in at just 3–5 calories and contains minimal sugar.
But what is Bragg’s apple cider vinegar good for? Apple cider vinegar uses range from soothing sunburns to giving your gut health a boost. Some even suggest that apple cider vinegar cures cold symptoms and seasonal allergies as well as acid reflux.
With at least 20 potential uses and a host of proven health benefits, this is a must-have item in your medicine cabinet.
6 Apple Cider Vinegar Benefits
1. Regulates Blood Sugar Levels
The ability of apple cider vinegar to help maintain normal blood sugar is one of the most well-studied apple cider vinegar benefits.
In one study, vinegar consumption was found to decrease blood sugar levels by an average of 31 percent after eating white bread. (1) Similarly, an animal study showed that giving diabetic rats apple cider vinegar for four weeks was found to significantly reduce blood sugar levels.(2)
Apple cider vinegar may also increase insulin sensitivity. Insulin is the hormone responsible for transporting sugar from the blood to the tissues where it can be used as fuel. Sustaining high levels of insulin can cause insulin resistance, which reduces its effectiveness and leads to high blood sugar and diabetes.
A study in Diabetes Care showed that vinegar ingestion helped significantly improve insulin sensitivity by up to 34 percent in those with either type 2 diabetes or insulin resistance. (3)
To keep blood sugar levels stable, try diluting one to two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in 8 ounces of water and consuming before meals. Additionally, be sure to moderate carbohydrate intake, increase your consumption of fiber and protein foods and get in plenty of regular physical activity to drop blood sugar levels even more.
2. Enhances Weight Loss
Apple cider vinegar has been in the limelight recently with fitness gurus and natural health experts alike recommending an apple cider vinegar diet to help drop unwanted pounds quickly. But is apple cider vinegar good for weight loss?
There is a plethora of research out there confirming the benefits of apple cider vinegar for weight loss. In one study, consuming just two tablespoons per day of apple cider vinegar over 12 weeks resulted in nearly 4 pounds of weight loss with no other modifications to diet or lifestyle (4).
Studies show that apple cider vinegar may also increase satiety, which can help reduce intake and amp up weight loss. (5) In fact, one study showed that drinking apple cider vinegar actually decreased total caloric intake by up to 275 calories over the course of the day. (6)
However, just because apple cider vinegar benefits weight loss doesn’t mean that it should be used as a quick fix all on its own. In fact, if just drinking it alone, the amount of apple cider vinegar weight loss will be minimal. To really see results, be sure to use it in combination with a healthy diet and active lifestyle.
3. Lowers Cholesterol
Cholesterol is a fat-like substance that can build up in the arteries, causing them to narrow and harden. High blood cholesterol puts a strain on your heart, forcing it to work harder to push blood throughout the body.
Apple cider vinegar can promote heart health by helping to keep cholesterol levels low. An animal study out of Iran showed that supplementing rats with apple cider vinegar was able to reduce bad LDL cholesterol while also increasing beneficial HDL cholesterol. (7)
Besides including a tablespoon or two of apple cider vinegar in your diet each day, other ways to lower cholesterol fast include minimizing your intake of sugar and refined carbohydrates, including a good variety of healthy fats in your diet and eating a few servings of fish per week.
4. Improves Skin Health
Apple cider vinegar doesn’t just affect your internal health; it has also been shown to treat acne and reduce scarring. Certain strains of bacteria often contribute to the development of acne. Vinegar is well-known for its antibacterial properties and has been shown to be effective against many strains of harmful bacteria. (8)
Apple cider vinegar also contains specific components like acetic acid, lactic acid, succinic acid and citric acid, all of which have been shown to inhibit the growth of Propionibacterium acnes, the specific strain of bacteria responsible for causing acne. (9a, 9b)
These beneficial components may also reduce scarring. A study in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology showed that treating acne scars with lactic acid for three months led to improvements in the texture, pigmentation and appearance of treated skin as well as a lightening of scars. (10)
5. Reduces Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease. It forces the heart to work harder, causing the heart muscle to weaken and deteriorate over time.
Apple cider vinegar benefits your blood pressure levels, helping to keep your heart healthy and strong. An animal study in Japan showed that giving rats acetic acid, the main component in vinegar, resulted in reduced levels of blood pressure. (11) Another animal study had similar findings, demonstrating that vinegar effectively blocked the actions of a specific enzyme that raises blood pressure. (12)
Other natural ways to lower blood pressure include increasing your intake of magnesium and potassium, upping your fiber intake and swapping the salt and processed foods for whole foods.
6. Relieves Symptoms of Acid Reflux
Gastroesophageal reflux disease, also known as GERD or acid reflux, is a condition characterized by acid backflow from the stomach up into the esophagus, causing symptoms like heartburn, belching and nausea.
Acid reflux is often a result of having low levels of stomach acid. If this is the case for you, drinking apple cider vinegar may help provide relief from acid reflux symptoms by introducing more acid into the digestive tract to prevent acid backflow.
For best results, dilute one to two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in an 8 ounce glass of water and drink just before eating. Additionally, remember to follow an acid reflux diet rich in vegetables, healthy fats and fermented foods to slash symptoms even more.
Apple Cider Vinegar Uses
1. Boosts Gut Health
By opting for organic raw apple cider vinegar, you can add a healthy dose of beneficial bacteria into your diet. This bacteria can enhance the health of your digestive system and deliver a host of added gut bacteria benefits like increased immunity and an improved ability to digest and absorb nutrients. Incorporate one to two tablespoons into your diet per day along with other fermented foods such as kombucha or kefir for best results.
2. Soothes Sunburns
If you’ve spent a little too much time in the sun, apple cider vinegar is a great natural remedy for soothing dry, sunburnt skin. Add a cup of apple cider vinegar plus 1/4 cup coconut oil and some lavender essential oil to a lukewarm bath and soak to provide sunburn relief.
3. Regulates Blood Sugar
Apple cider vinegar benefits your blood sugar levels and can even increase insulin sensitivity. Try diluting one to two tablespoons in an 8-ounce cup of water and drinking before meals to keep blood sugar levels steady.
4. Fights Fungus
Fungal infections like athlete’s foot, toenail fungus, jock itch or yeast infections can be easily treated with the help of apple cider vinegar. Creating an antifungal spray is one of the most effective apple cider vinegar uses. Combined with other fungus-fighting ingredients, it can reduce symptoms and provide relief fast.
5. Improves Skin Health
Apple cider vinegar benefits for skin include treating acne and reducing scarring. Known for its antibacterial and healing properties, apple cider vinegar benefits skin health by killing off strains of acne-causing bacteria. Try an apple cider vinegar toner to help enhance skin health.
6. Enhances Circulation
Some studies have found that applying apple cider vinegar to varicose veins could help reduce symptoms. (13) Try combining with witch hazel and scrubbing in a circular motion to improve circulation and alleviate symptoms.
7. Treats Warts
Want to get rid of a wart that won’t go away? Try soaking a cotton ball in apple cider vinegar, applying directly to the wart and covering with a bandage overnight. Though it may take a while, repeating this a few times can cause the wart to eventually fall right off.
8. Heals Poison Ivy
Apple cider vinegar is a natural remedy that can help soothe an itchy poison ivy rash. This is because it contains potassium, which may help reduce the swelling associated with poison ivy. Try applying a teaspoon directly to the skin a few times per day until it is healed.
9. Kills Bugs and Fleas
If your dog or cat can’t stop scratching themselves, ditch the chemical-laden flea killers and try this natural remedy instead. Add equal parts water and apple cider vinegar to a spray bottle and apply to the fur once per day until fleas are gone. You can also try making your own homemade bug spray and applying to your skin to fight off pesky insects.
10. Wards off Seasonal Allergies
Many people use apple cider vinegar as a natural remedy for seasonal allergies. The healthy bacteria found in apple cider vinegar may promote immunity and support healthy lymphatic drainage to kick seasonal sniffles and allergies to the curb. Try drinking two tablespoons diluted in water next time your allergies are acting up.
11. Acts as a Natural Deodorant
The armpits are a great breeding spot for bacteria, which can lead to a worsening of body odor. Apple cider vinegar possesses powerful antibacterial properties and makes an excellent natural deodorant. One of the simplest apple cider vinegar uses is to dab a bit on your fingers and apply under your arms to help neutralize odor and keep you smelling fresh.
12. Keeps Hair Shiny
For dull or dry hair, give apple cider vinegar a try. Making an apple cider vinegar hair rinse prevents dryness, makes it smell great and helps hair stay shiny and lustrous.
13. Amps Up Weight Loss
Apple cider vinegar can boost satiety and kill cravings to kickstart weight loss. Try making an apple cider vinegar weight loss drink by adding a dose of apple cider vinegar to your favorite green smoothie recipes.
14. Reduces Acid Reflux and Heartburn
Many people experience acid reflux as a result of low levels of stomach acid. Apple cider vinegar can help increase levels of stomach acid to prevent backflow into the esophagus and reduce symptoms of heartburn. It works best to drink apple cider vinegar right before meals. Dilute a tablespoon or two of apple cider vinegar in one 8-ounce cup of water and drink up to fight off acid reflux.
15. Balances Your pH
Although acetic acid, the primary component in apple cider vinegar, is acidic, it has an alkalizing effect on the body. A few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar per day can keep your pH levels balanced to help optimize health.
16. Acts as a Household Cleaner
Mixing equal parts apple cider vinegar with water to make an all-natural household cleaner is one of the easiest and most effective apple cider vinegar uses. Thanks to its antibacterial properties, it’s perfect for killing off germs and keeping the house spotless.
17. Whitens Teeth
Apple cider vinegar can even brighten up your smile and naturally whiten your teeth. For best results, try brushing with a bit of apple cider vinegar, rinsing your mouth out. Keep in mind that overdoing it can actually erode your enamel, so use a moderate amount and avoid overdoing it.
18. Relieves Cold Symptoms
If you feel a case of the sniffles coming on, a few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar may be a useful natural cold remedy to relieve symptoms fast. This is because apple cider vinegar contains beneficial bacteria that can help give your immune system a quick boost, especially when you’re feeling under the weather.
19. Lowers Blood Pressure
Acetic acid, the main component in apple cider vinegar, has been shown to reduce blood pressure levels and help improve heart health. For best results, dilute a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in an 8-ounce cup of water and consume three times daily to help drop blood pressure.
20. Aids in Detoxification
Apple cider vinegar can help balance your pH, encourage lymphatic drainage and enhance circulation, making it a great tool when it comes to detoxification. The typical apple cider vinegar dosage is one to two tablespoons mixed with water a few times per day, but you can also try out the Secret Detox Drink to get a concentrated megadose of health-promoting ingredients that can aid in detoxification.
Types of Apple Cider Vinegar
With apple cider vinegar, terms like “organic” and “raw” are tossed around pretty loosely, making it hard to decipher what you’re actually getting when you grab a bottle from the store.
To maximize the apple cider vinegar benefits, you should pick organic, raw and unfiltered apple cider vinegar whenever possible. It should also be murky with a web-like appearance and the mother still intact to get the most nutritional bang for your buck.
Here’s what those terms actually mean and why you should pick organic, raw and unfiltered apple cider vinegar whenever possible:
Organic Apple Cider Vinegar
If your apple cider vinegar is labeled as certified organic, it means that it’s free of genetically modified organisms and synthetic additives that can actually do more harm than good in terms of your health.
Raw Apple Cider Vinegar
Raw apple cider vinegar is unheated and unprocessed. This means that it still has the “mother” intact, which is a cluster of proteins, enzymes and beneficial bacteria often removed during processing.
Unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar
For most apple cider vinegar uses, you’ll also want to go for unfiltered apple cider vinegar. When apple cider vinegar is filtered, it removes the mother as well as any sediment, leaving behind a clear, amber vinegar.
Apple Cider Vinegar vs. Apple Cider
So what distinguishes apple cider from apple cider vinegar and can they be used interchangeably?
Apple cider is made from fresh pressed apples. It’s similar to apple juice but it’s not filtered or processed in the same way.
Apple cider vinegar, on the other hand, is actually made from apple cider that has been fermented by yeast and bacteria, which turns the sugars into alcohol. It then undergoes a second fermentation process in which the alcohol is converted into acetic acid.
This fermentation process accounts for the many health benefits of apple cider vinegar and is the reason why apple cider vinegar is able to lower cholesterol, keep blood sugar levels stable and relieve acid reflux. Apple cider, on the other hand, may taste great but doesn’t provide the same wealth of benefits.
History & Facts
Apple cider vinegar has been consumed for thousands of years. In fact, records show that we’ve been fermenting apple juice into vinegar since well before 5,000 B.C.
Historically, apple cider vinegar has been used for a variety of different purposes, such as helping to detoxify the liver, purifying blood, cleansing the lymph nodes and boosting immunity. In ancient Greece, Hippocrates even prescribed it mixed with a bit of honey to help cure coughs and colds.
In the 17th century, Europeans began using vinegar medicinally. They started preparing it in syrups and antiseptics and even used it as a gargle to kill off germs.
Today, apple cider vinegar has re-entered the spotlight and is beginning to gain some well-deserved recognition for its potent health-promoting properties. Not only can it be used as a natural remedy to treat a variety of ailments, but it even makes an effective all-natural household cleaner and disinfectant.
Although apple cider vinegar is healthy and safe for most people, consuming large amounts can lead to some negative effects on health. Apple cider vinegar side effects include erosion of tooth enamel, burning of the throat or skin and decreased levels of potassium.
Be sure to always dilute apple cider vinegar in water instead of drinking it straight to prevent negative side effects. You should also start with a low dose and work your way up to assess your tolerance.
If you’re taking blood sugar medications, talk to your doctor before using apple cider vinegar. Because apple cider vinegar may help reduce blood sugar levels, you may need to modify your dosage of diabetes medications to prevent hypoglycemia symptoms.
Finally, while there are a wide range of apple cider vinegar uses, it shouldn’t be viewed as a quick fix or cure when it comes to your health. Instead, it should be paired with a nutritious diet and healthy lifestyle to really see results.
- Apple cider vinegar is made from apple cider that has been fermented, producing healthy probiotics and enzymes and significantly slashing sugar and calories.
- Apple cider vinegar benefits include improving weight loss, dropping blood pressure and cholesterol levels, stabilizing blood sugar, enhancing skin health and relieving acid reflux symptoms.
- What is organic vinegar good for? There are a wide range of apple cider vinegar uses, from making all-natural household cleaners and bug sprays to whitening teeth and aiding in detoxification.
- Opt for raw, unfiltered and organic apple cider vinegar with the mother still intact as this type of apple cider vinegar provides the most health benefits.
- Remember to dilute apple cider vinegar in water, use it in moderation and pair it with a nutritious diet and healthy lifestyle to maximize your results.
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