Vinegar — a simple household product — has a long history on our planet, dating back to at least 5,000 BC. Its many purposes include preservation, flavoring, preservation 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 capabilities, and some research is available to back up some of the health claims about its benefits.
What is apple cider vinegar?
When you combine apples, sugar and yeast and allow them to ferment, you make apple cider vinegar. Over the course of several weeks, the yeast will digest the sugar to make alcohol. After this happens, natural bacteria will convert the alcohol into acetic acid, which is where the bad smell and taste of apple cider vinegar come from.
You have two options when you buy 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 provides health benefits, as it contains healthy amounts of bacteria and probiotics.
Apple cider vinegar can be used in the kitchen, at home and for health as:
- Dressing or vinaigrette
- Face toner
- Wash fruit and vegetables
- Denture cleaner
- rinse the hair
- Dandruff treatment
- Weed killer
4 benefits of apple cider vinegar
Although more research is needed, some small and medium-sized studies show the benefits of apple cider vinegar for a number of health problems and as a potential weight loss aid.
It can help control blood sugar and diabetes
Up to 95% of diabetics have type 2 diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Type 2 diabetes is caused by insulin resistance, or the inability to produce insulin.
Even if you don’t have diabetes, it’s important 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 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 taking medication.
Kills harmful bacteria
Those who want to preserve their food naturally may want to use apple cider vinegar. It is a known pathogen killer, which includes microbes like staph and candida.
Vinegar is a popular preservative in Korea, as it prevents E. coli and norovirus from growing in food. E. coli can cause food poisoning when consumed, but the bactericidal effect of the acetic acid in apple cider vinegar can prevent this from happening.
It can lead to weight loss
Another benefit of apple cider vinegar that can be useful is its ability to help weight loss. When taken before or during meals, ACV has been shown to help with satiety, or the feeling of fullness.
In one study, participants ate approximately 200 to 275 calories when apple cider vinegar was combined with food. During a period of three months, participants taking one to two tablespoons of ACV per day saw up to 3.7 pounds in weight loss and a reduction in body fat.
It can increase cholesterol levels
High cholesterol and triglyceride levels can increase the risk of heart disease.
Incorporating up to one ounce of apple cider vinegar into your day, along with a lower calorie diet, can lower total cholesterol and triglycerides and also increase HDL “good” cholesterol.
People with type 2 diabetes can also see positive results in total cholesterol and triglyceride levels when they add half an ounce of ACV to their diet.
Potential side effects
Although there are benefits to the use of apple cider vinegar, there are also side effects to consider. High acidity can remove the enamel of the teeth, which will not return once it is gone. And it can cause damage to the esophagus or throat if you drink it undiluted.
Here are some 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 tastier, but also reduces the risk of damaging your throat and teeth. A combination of one or two teaspoons may cure stomach aches.
A dose of apple cider vinegar
The dosage of apple cider vinegar depends on the reason you use 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 combining it in your favorite foods, especially dressings, vinaigrettes and even when making your own mayonnaise.
You can also add a cup or two to your bath for skin problems. Mix a teaspoon of ACV with a cup of water, then soak gauze or cotton in the solution to make a wet pack.
To use apple cider vinegar as a hair rinse, combine up to two teaspoons with a cup of water, then pour on your hair after shampooing. Wait 5 minutes, then rinse. It can be drying, so use sparingly. ACV can also cause skin irritation, so a weaker dilution may work better.
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While some studies have found benefits of apple cider vinegar, we need more research to prove that ACV is beneficial. It can help you lose weight, control type 2 diabetes, blood sugar and cholesterol and can also prevent the growth of harmful bacteria in food. However, drinking undiluted apple cider vinegar can cause tooth enamel erosion or throat damage. Mixing ACV with water or juice before consuming can prevent damage to the teeth and throat. As with any natural remedy, consult 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 your doctor or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have about your medical condition or health goals.