Apple Cider Vinegar 101: Health Benefits and Uses
With fall right around the corner, orchard farms are soon to be bustling with visitors eagerly waiting to pick crisp apples for pies, baked goods, and cider. Autumn is also a great time for a fresh start, thanks to the back-to-school feeling in the air. Why not fall into a new routine by incorporating apples into your diet?
Apple cider vinegar is one of the most commonly used vinegars, providing a whole host of benefits to those who use it. Studies have shown ACV promotes healthy blood sugar levels and also promotes healthy weight management. It’s time this vinegar becomes a staple in your pantry this fall season and beyond.
What Is Apple Cider Vinegar?
Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is created by fermenting crushed apples in a two-step process. First, yeast ferments the sugar in the apples, turning it into alcohol. Then, bacteria further breaks down the alcohol into acetic acid. Acetic acid is the compound that gives vinegar its taste, smell and health benefits.
The combination of yeast and healthy bacteria which is responsible for creating ACV gives it its signature cloudy consistency. The enzyme- and protein-rich strands that collect on the bottom of the bottle are commonly referred to as the “mother” of apple cider vinegar. It is important to note that you will only find the mother in unfiltered brands of ACV.
Apple Cider Vinegar Health Benefits
Apple cider vinegar has been used for centuries in natural remedies, household cleaning solutions, DIY topical treatments, and various culinary applications. It has gained popularity over the years for its health benefits, and it’s been studied extensively to see if the claims live up to reality. Let’s dive in and learn more about what ACV can—and can’t—do.
Helps Balance Blood Sugar Levels
The main property of ACV, acetic acid, assists with blocking the enzymes that are responsible for digesting starch. This, in turn, helps lower the blood sugar response that results from consuming pastas, breads or other high-starch foods. Other studies on apple cider vinegar have shown promising results when it comes to lowering blood glucose levels.
Even if you’re not watching your blood sugar levels specifically for diabetes, you can still benefit from keeping them in check. Consistent blood sugar spikes can add to aging and disease. By incorporating apple cider vinegar into your meals and diet, you can help improve your insulin sensitivity and sugar levels, especially when consuming heavy meals.(1)
Kills Off Harmful Bacteria
You may already be aware that white vinegar is a wonderful addition to natural home cleaning solutions. All vinegars have properties that help kill off bacteria and pathogens, including ACV.
Apple cider vinegar acts as a disinfectant in both natural cleaning remedies and in cooking. Studies have shown that adding vinegar to food as a natural preservative helps prevent the growth of bacteria.
Proponents of DIY beauty treatments believe that applying the vinegar topically can help kill off bacteria on the skin.
May Improve Heart Health and Cholesterol Levels
Animal studies have shown apple cider vinegar to be successful at lowering cholesterol levels and even blood pressure levels. It’s widely known that high levels of cholesterol and blood pressure contribute to heart disease. By incorporating apple cider vinegar into your routine, you may be helping to keep your heart health in check. Although there haven’t been extensive human studies done on the benefits of ACV for heart health, the animal research shows promise.
Apple Cider Vinegar for Weight Loss
One of the most common uses of apple cider vinegar is as a weight loss agent. ACV is believed to help with digestion, reduce belly fat and cause those who take it feel fuller for longer. In addition to eating right and exercising, apple cider vinegar may add a boost to your efforts to shed pounds.
In the studies conducted on ACV and weight loss, results showed that drinking apple cider vinegar in addition to eating a healthy diet and working out helped participants greatly reduce weight. Studies have also shown that participants felt fuller when eating meals after taking apple cider vinegar, leading to them consuming fewer calories throughout the day. Other studies showed that consuming apple cider vinegar in addition to following a healthy diet and exercise regimen may lead to reduced belly fat and improved blood sugar levels.
How to Consume Apple Cider Vinegar
There are two main ways to consume apple cider vinegar: as a liquid, or in pill form. When trying to decide the best way to consume apple cider vinegar, it’s important to think about your lifestyle. If you can easily see yourself diluting ACV into your beverages and using it in recipes, simply using the vinegar itself may be the way to go. There are both unfiltered and filtered brands of ACV. If you want to source brands that contain the “mother”—as this is where a lot of the nutrients are found—you’ll want to find unfiltered apple cider vinegar.
There can be negative side effects of drinking large quantities of apple cider vinegar over time. The acid in ACV may do damage to your gums, teeth and even throat. This is especially true if you are taking straight shots of apple cider vinegar and not diluting it in water or another beverage.
By taking apple cider vinegar in pill form, you’ll prevent the possibility of doing any damage to your oral health. ACV pills are also a great choice if you don’t like the flavor of vinegar but still want to experience the health benefits.
How Much ACV Should You Take?
If you are just starting out with apple cider vinegar and have never consumed it before, one teaspoon is a good place to start, either by diluting it in one cup of water or adding it to your salad dressing. From there, you can slowly work your way up to one tablespoon per serving.
If you are taking apple cider vinegar in supplement form, you should follow the recommended dosage on the bottle. It’s important to also consult with your physician before beginning any supplement regimen to ensure that there are no contraindications with other medications you may be taking.
Tasty Ways to Get More Apple Cider Vinegar
Since consuming apple cider vinegar in its liquid form as a drink is most popular, here are a few different ways you can create apple cider vinegar drinks for various purposes.
- Sore throat ACV tonic:
- Spiced ginger apple cider vinegar drink:
- Fall apple pie ACV tonic:
A common home remedy to soothe a sore throat and get a burst of nutrients is by mixing antibacterial-rich honey, lemon, warm water, and a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar. By stirring all of these ingredients together, you’ll create a warming, healthy tonic with soothing properties to boot.
This particular ACV drink will give you all the health benefits from the vinegar but also extra soothing digestive properties from ginger. All you do is mix together one teaspoon of ACV, a quarter teaspoon of ground ginger or muddled crystalized ginger, water (between one and two cups), and a little bit of monk fruit extract or stevia.
To get into the spirit of autumn, you can also mix together a quarter teaspoon of cinnamon, one teaspoon of apple cider vinegar and one cup of water to create a refreshing spiced apple drink with extra antioxidants.
You can also incorporate apple cider vinegar into egg dishes like deviled eggs and egg salad to give them a boost of extra flavor and nutrients. Homemade barbecue sauces also benefit from the healthy tang of ACV.
Apple cider vinegar offers many health benefits, but it shouldn’t be used as a cure-all for health ailments or a panacea for weight loss. By incorporating ACV into an already established healthy regimen, you will be creating even better results. As long as you don’t consume apple cider vinegar in excess, it is a safe, supportive ingredient to add to any healthy lifestyle.
1. Vinegar Improves Insulin Sensitivity to a High-Carbohydrate Meal in Subjects With Insulin Resistance or Type 2 Diabetes
2. Effectiveness of household natural sanitizers in the elimination of Salmonella typhimurium on rocket (Eruca sativa Miller) and spring onion (Allium cepa L.)
3. Vinegar: Medicinal Uses and Antiglycemic Effect
4. Beneficial effects of Apple Cider Vinegar on weight management, Visceral Adiposity Index and lipid profile in overweight or obese subjects receiving restricted calorie diet: A randomized clinical trial
5. Effect of neutralized and native vinegar on blood glucose and acetate responses to a mixed meal in healthy subjects
Sarah Baker is a certified holistic nutrition and health coach, certified business consultant with a focus on brand strategy, and founder of BalancedBabe.com. In between working with clients and growing her wellness brand, she spends most of her time as a media and TV personality advocating an approachable and fun holistic lifestyle.