Apple cider vinegar (ACV) can be much more than a pantry staple. The vinegar, made from the fermented juice of apples, is a rich source of polyphenols and can even help restore the balance of gut flora. This and its other properties, including possible use as a weight-loss aid, make ACV great for your health.
1. Helps Lose Weight
A way to stay fit, lose weight, or even maintain weight is always on the radar for most of us. When taken before meals, even high-carb ones like white bread, ACV lowers the glucose and insulin levels in the blood after the meal. This has a threefold effect of keeping one full, reducing fat storage, and improving risks of heart attacks caused by glucose spike.1
On the one hand, ACV can keep your appetite in check and lower your calorie consumption by 275 Cal. On the other, it influences some of your genes to burn more fat and make or store less fat. That’s how it reduces the waist circumference and the harmful visceral fat around vital organs.2 3 4 This is the right way to have ACV for weight loss.
2. Improves Insulin Sensitivity In Diabetics
Insulin resistance and diabetes have the uncomfortable ability to make life that extra bit challenging. Which is why the antiglycemic effect of ACV is so important. ACV can improve insulin sensitivity in those who have type 2 diabetes. It ups the glucose intake by the tissues of your body and prevents the complete digestion of complex carbs. The result – blood glucose levels dip, enabling you to avoid spikes and fluctuations that diabetics dread. With better control over diabetes, you’re that much closer to getting your health back on track.5
But here’s where it gets tricky. Taking ACV with blood glucose-lowering medicines may dip your sugar levels below normal, leading to hypoglycemia. So always ask your doctor.
3. Lowers Blood Pressure
ACV may also have benefits for those with high blood pressure. Animal studies have proven the hypotensive action of the vinegar, showing that it can lower blood pressure possibly due to the acetic acid in it. However, human studies must be done before it can be suggested as treatment for the problem.6 It also helps that the potassium in ACV eases tension in your blood vessel walls, lowering blood pressure.7
4. Reduces Bad Cholesterol And Increases Good Cholesterol
Another area in which ACV makes a mark is heart health. If you’re hoping to ward off cardiovascular illness, taking some ACV can help. The antioxidant polyphenols in it can help lower the “bad” LDL cholesterol levels in the body. Chlorogenic acid, one such polyphenol, also does not allow the LDL to oxidize and form fatty deposits in the arteries. This helps keep your blood pressure in check and your heart in better shape.
By improving your heart health, you boost overall fitness. You may, therefore, be able to stay active and build up the stamina to work out – good signs if you want to lose weight.8
Even if you eat a cholesterol-rich diet, like fatty meats and dairy, drink a little with warm water before all meals to improve digestion and reduce serum cholesterol levels.9
5. Stimulates Digestion With Helpful Gut Bacteria
ACV is a functional food that helps you keep a favorable balance of gut flora. Considered a prebiotic, ACV can also help stimulate the growth of good bacteria in your intestine. These are needed not just for good digestion but also for health and well-being and enable the body to fight off infections better.10 A tablespoon of ACV mixed with water is a good aid for digestion too. Apple cider vinegar can also treat acid reflux.
6. Detoxes Your Body
ACV also features in detox regimens. That’s because it may bind to toxins that have accumulated in your body and help expel them. As toxins build up in your body, its ability to function at its best also declines. Taking ACV may help offset some of that.11 The detoxification effect of apple cider vinegar may have to do with its effect on the gut.
7. Alleviates Plaque Psoriasis
Plaque psoriasis causes red raised patches and silvery skin to develop in those afflicted. Besides the knees, elbows, and lower back, it can also leave you with a scalp that’s itchy and painful. According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, using ACV as a rinse on the scalp can relieve symptoms like itching and associated pain or discomfort. It can also soothe an irritated scalp.12
8. Protects You From Fungal Infections
ACV has antifungal properties. This is invaluable when dealing with common problems caused by the growth of the yeast candida, also responsible for oral thrush. Research has shown it to be an effective antifungal agent with therapeutic potential in problems like denture stomatitis, which is the inflammation and redness of the area beneath a denture.13 Ever used apple cider vinegar toothpaste?
There are a lot of popular claims about how ACV can cure the common cold, treat eczema, and get rid of warts. But we don’t yet have any scientific evidences to prove these, so we can’t recommend ACV for these purposes. But you can of course go right ahead and drink ACV for all its other goodnesses.
9. Improves Skin And Hair Health
ACV is popular as a natural hair and skin care remedy. Here are some ways you can use it. Remember, these are home remedies that have been used by individuals, but until scientific study backs up wider use, you may want to try these with some caution – and only if your skin and hair aren’t too sensitive. Always test a small patch of skin first to ensure you don’t have an adverse reaction to the remedy.
- Skin Toner And Facial Cleanser: Mix a tablespoon of ACV into a cup of clean water and dab onto your face with a clean cotton ball. You should feel your skin tighten and your pores should close up. Rinse off once dry.
- Sunburn Remedy: If you’ve been out in the sun and end up with a sunburn, applying diluted ACV – about half a cup to every four cups of water – can help heal the skin and may even prevent blistering.
- Dandruff Remedy: If your scalp is itchy and dandruff leaves you with unsightly white flakes on your hair and shoulders, ACV can come to your rescue. Rinse your hair and scalp with ACV that’s been added to your regular shampoo. You could also just rinse it through with a mix of plain water and ACV, with both in equal amounts.
- Natural Deodorant: The acetic acid in ACV kills the bacteria on your skin that decomposes sweat and creates body odor. Dip a cotton ball in a 1:1 ACV and water mixture. Swab your armpits with it. Let it evaporate. Then powder the armpits with a 1:1 cornstarch and baking soda mixture to keep dry. If you are worried about the vinegary smell, just add a few drops of your favorite essential oil. Here’s more on how to use ACV as a deodorant.
How To Have ACV For Health Benefits?
Whatever your purpose, ACV can be consumed in a few popular ways.
- Plain ACV: If you have a stomach for it, simply drink up the dosage suggested by your naturopath or specialist, or have a therapeutic dose of about a teaspoon before each main meal as most people do.
- ACV With Warm Water: Another popular way is to mix the apple cider vinegar with a glass of warm water so it goes down easy.
- ACV In Drinks: Simply add ACV to water, add some honey, and you have a refreshing drink. You can also add some to smoothies or juices.
- ACV In Food: You can also add it to salad dressings and marinades. Also use it as a glaze or baste meat and vegetables with it.
Should You Have Raw Or Organic ACV?
Raw or organic apple cider vinegar usually refers to the unfiltered version of the vinegar. It has a cloudy appearance and contains some of the bacteria involved in the fermentation process as well as enzymes and protein strands – also called the “mother.”14 Non-organic ACV is pasteurized and its nutrient content is thought to be lower than organic ACV.15
While some people believe that the “mother” is responsible for all the health benefits of ACV, this hasn’t been proven adequately via scientific research. Also, the high bacteria content in the unpasteurized organic version may not agree with everyone.
On the other hand, the acetic acid in both organic and non-organic ACV has been found to have some marked benefits.16 Depending on your constitution and needs, your healthcare provider will be best equipped to recommend one of the two.
Who Should Avoid ACV?
Taken in small dietary amounts, as part of a balanced diet with plenty of fluids, ACV is usually fine for anyone to consume. However, there are some who may be better off avoiding it.
- Pregnant and breastfeeding mothers: Not enough research has been done to study the effect this natural remedy has on women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. You are better off avoiding having it at this phase of your life.
- Diabetics: While ACV can improve insulin sensitivity, combining it in therapeutic doses alongside existing medication for diabetes can cause glucose levels to fall suddenly – a condition called hypoglycemia. Doses of insulin administered will, therefore, need to be adjusted accordingly in those with insulin-dependent diabetes.17 If you have type 2 diabetes, do check with your doctor about possible drug interactions. Also, diabetics who have gastroparesis, or incomplete stomach emptying, should avoid ACV.
- People on blood thinners: ACV has blood-thinning properties, so people on such medication should check with their doctor to avoid any interaction.18
|↑1||Östman, Elin, Yvonne Granfeldt, Lisbeth Persson, and Inger Björck. “Vinegar supplementation lowers glucose and insulin responses and increases satiety after a bread meal in healthy subjects.” European journal of clinical nutrition 59, no. 9 (2005): 983-988.|
|↑2||Johnston, Carol S., and Amanda J. Buller. “Vinegar and peanut products as complementary foods to reduce postprandial glycemia.” Journal of the American Dietetic Association 105, no. 12 (2005): 1939-1942.|
|↑3||Kondo, Tomoo, Mikiya Kishi, Takashi Fushimi, and Takayuki Kaga. “Acetic acid upregulates the expression of genes for fatty acid oxidation enzymes in liver to suppress body fat accumulation.” Journal of agricultural and food chemistry 57, no. 13 (2009): 5982-5986.|
|↑4||Kondo, Tomoo, Mikiya Kishi, Takashi Fushimi, Shinobu Ugajin, and Takayuki Kaga. “Vinegar intake reduces body weight, body fat mass, and serum triglyceride levels in obese Japanese subjects.” Bioscience, biotechnology, and biochemistry 73, no. 8 (2009): 1837-1843.|
|↑5||Johnston, Carol S., Cindy M. Kim, and Amanda J. Buller. “Vinegar improves insulin sensitivity to a high-carbohydrate meal in subjects with insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes.” Diabetes Care 27, no. 1 (2004): 281-282.|
|↑6, ↑16||Kondo, Shino, Kenji Tayama, Yoshinori Tsukamoto, Katsumi Ikeda, and Yukio Yamori. “Antihypertensive effects of acetic acid and vinegar on spontaneously hypertensive rats.” Bioscience, biotechnology, and biochemistry 65, no. 12 (2001): 2690-2694.|
|↑7||How Potassium Can Help Control High Blood Pressure. American Heart Association.|
|↑8||Budak, Nilgün H., Elif Aykin, Atif C. Seydim, Annel K. Greene, and Zeynep B. Guzel‐Seydim. “Functional properties of vinegar.” Journal of food science 79, no. 5 (2014): R757-R764.|
|↑9||Fushimi, Takashi, Kazuhito Suruga, Yoshifumi Oshima, Momoko Fukiharu, Yoshinori Tsukamoto, and Toshinao Goda. “Dietary acetic acid reduces serum cholesterol and triacylglycerols in rats fed a cholesterol-rich diet.” British Journal of Nutrition 95, no. 05 (2006): 916-924.|
|↑10||Gibson, Glenn R., Hollie M. Probert, Jan Van Loo, Robert A. Rastall, and Marcel B. Roberfroid. “Dietary modulation of the human colonic microbiota: updating the concept of prebiotics.” Nutrition research reviews 17, no. 02 (2004): 259-275.|
|↑11||Kljajic, Sara. “Eat smart: Building a detox armoury.” (2014): 62.|
|↑12||Herbs/Natural Remedies. National Psoriasis Foundation.|
|↑13||Mota, Ana Carolina Loureiro Gama, Ricardo Dias Castro, Julyana Araújo Oliveira, and Edeltrudes Oliveira Lima. “Antifungal activity of apple cider vinegar on Candida species involved in denture stomatitis.” Journal of Prosthodontics 24, no. 4 (2015): 296-302.|
|↑14||Johnston, Carol S., and Cindy A. Gaas. “Vinegar: medicinal uses and antiglycemic effect.” Medscape General Medicine 8, no. 2 (2006): 61.|
|↑15, ↑18||Apple cider vinegar. Columbia University.|
|↑17||Hlebowicz, Joanna, Gassan Darwiche, Ola Björgell, and Lars-Olof Almér. “Effect of apple cider vinegar on delayed gastric emptying in patients with type 1 diabetes mellitus: a pilot study.” BMC gastroenterology 7, no. 1 (2007): 46.|