Is apple cider vinegar good for you? It sure is. Even before 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, among other apple cider vinegar benefits.
Apple cider vinegar uses range from soothing sunburns to giving your gut health a boost. It’s also used to relieve cold symptoms and seasonal allergies, help with acid reflux, and support weight management.
With plenty of potential uses and a host of proven health perks, this is a must-have item in your medicine cabinet.
What Is Apple Cider Vinegar?
Apple cider vinegar is a type of vinegar made from apple cider that has undergone fermentation — first fermented by yeast and bacteria, which turns the sugars into alcohol, and then a second fermentation process in which the alcohol is converted into acetic acid. This process forms health-promoting probiotics and enzymes, giving it significantly less sugar and fewer calories than apple cider or apple juice.
This fermentation process accounts for the many health benefits of apple cider vinegar. In fact, it only takes one to two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to experience the positive effects of apple cider vinegar, and each tablespoon clocks in at just three to five calories and contains minimal sugar.
If you’re concerned about weight maintenance or you’re trying to lose weight, it’s still safe to consume apple cider vinegar regularly.
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 5000 B.C.
Historically, apple cider vinegar has been used for a variety of different purposes, such as helping 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 treat 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 can also be added to salad dressings and marinades or used as an effective all-natural household cleaner and disinfectant.
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 and may be useful for people with type 2 diabetes.
In one small study, vinegar consumption was found to decrease blood sugar by an average of 31 percent after eating white bread. Similarly, an animal study out of Iran showed that giving diabetic rats apple cider vinegar for four weeks was shown to significantly reduce blood sugar.
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 suggests that vinegar ingestion helped significantly improve insulin sensitivity by up to 34 percent in those with either type 2 diabetes or insulin resistance.
To keep blood sugar stable, try diluting one to two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in eight 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 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. Is apple cider vinegar good for weight loss, and how much weight can you lose by drinking it?
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 four pounds of weight loss with no other modifications to diet or lifestyle.
Studies show that apple cider vinegar may also increase satiety, which can help reduce intake and amp up weight loss. In fact, one study showed that consuming apple cider vinegar actually decreased total caloric intake by up to 275 calories over the course of the day.
What about combining the weight loss supplement garcinia cambogia with apple cider vinegar? While popular, this combination supplement doesn’t appear to show that taking these products will cause changes in your weight.
However, just because apple cider vinegar helps with 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 body weight loss will be minimal.
To really lose weight in a healthy way, be sure to use apple cider vinegar in combination with a balanced 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 keep cholesterol low. The animal study out of Iran mentioned above showed that supplementing rats with apple cider vinegar was able to reduce bad LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels, while also increasing beneficial HDL cholesterol.
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.
It 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.
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.
Adding some probiotic foods into your diet, using healing masks and toners, and keeping your skin well-moisturized are some other effective home remedies for acne as well.
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 helps improve blood pressure by keeping your heart healthy and strong. An animal study in Japan showed that giving rats acetic acid, the main component in vinegar, resulted in reduced blood pressure. Another animal study had similar findings, demonstrating that vinegar effectively blocked the actions of a specific enzyme that raises blood pressure.
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 stomach acid. If this is the case for you, consuming apple cider vinegar may help provide relief from acid reflux symptoms by introducing more acid into the digestive tract to prevent acid backflow.
A case study involving a 73-year-old woman with Parkinson’s disease who suffered from chronic acid reflux and constipation found that a combination of apple cider vinegar, DGL licorice, and a probiotic and magnesium supplement resulted in a 50 percent improvement in acid reflux after five days and complete resolution of symptoms after one month.
For best results, dilute one to two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in an eight-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.
How to Use
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. Detox drinks often use it as a key ingredient. Certain popular DIY uses include an apple cider vinegar hair rinse, a homemade bug spray, an antifungal spray or an apple cider vinegar toner.
How much apple cider vinegar a day should you take? A standard amount and the easiest way to use apple cider vinegar to simply mix one to two tablespoons into your diet per day, such as mixed into a glass of water, using in your salad dressing or even as part of a marinade.
Can you drink apple cider vinegar every day? Drinking up to two tablespoons per day diluted with water has been shown to be safe and effective for a variety of different conditions.
Some also opt to take apple cider vinegar supplements in the form of gummies or capsules containing a similar amount, although research is limited on the effectiveness of these supplements. Some apple vinegar supplements also use special herbs to add specific health claims and even flavor.
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 for the best results:
- 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. Consuming apple cider vinegar with mother intact ensures that you’re able to maximize the potential health benefits of this powerful ingredient.
- 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.
Risks and Side Effects
Although apple cider vinegar consumption is healthy and safe for most people, consuming large amounts can lead to some negative effects on health. What are the side effects of drinking apple cider vinegar every day?
Some of the most commonly reported 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 take blood sugar medications, talk to your doctor before using apple cider vinegar. Because apple cider vinegar may help reduce blood sugar, you may need to modify your dosage of diabetes medications to prevent hypoglycemia symptoms.
Although there is limited research available on the effects of apple cider vinegar on bone loss, one case study did find that consuming large amounts caused low potassium and decreased bone formation due to the high acidity. Therefore, it’s important to keep intake in moderation and avoid consuming very high amounts to prevent negative side effects.
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 and the best apple cider vinegar benefits.
- Apple cider vinegar has become trendy due to its many health perks. It’s made from apple cider that has been fermented, producing healthy probiotics and enzymes and significantly slashing sugar and calories — and those aren’t the only apple cider vinegar benefits.
- Apple cider vinegar helps improve weight loss, reduce blood pressure and cholesterol, stabilize blood sugar for people with type 2 diabetes, enhance skin health, and relieve acid reflux symptoms.
- How is apple cider vinegar used? The easiest way to use in mixing one to two tablespoons in a glass of water. Otherwise, use in salad dressings, detox drinks or DIY recipes such as facial toner or hair rinse.
- Opt for raw, unfiltered and organic apple cider vinegar with the mother still intact as this type of apple cider vinegar provides the greatest impact.
- Remember to dilute apple cider vinegar in water, use it in moderation, and pair it with a nutritious diet and healthy lifestyle to maximize apple cider vinegar benefits.