17 Health Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar
So we’ve heard the amazing and magical things apple cider vinegar (ACV) can do, from curing sunburn and acne to helping you lose weight and prevent cancer.
The vinegar has long been loved by all types of gurus. But sadly, not many of the claims are scientifically proven. To fully benefit, you must know the myths from the facts.
Some safety tips first
Apple cider vinegar, like other types of vinegar, is like acid to your body. Don’t drink it straight up.
Instead, you should dilute it. Add one tablespoons (at most 2) of vinegar to a glass of water.
If you don’t, it’ll be too acidic for your esophagus. It’s also easy to breathe it in and send acid to your lungs. According to some people, that feels like having sunburn on your lungs. Just imagine that.
In addition, some foods can cancel out the vinegar’s effect. Others may expand it. To be safe, drink the apple cider vinegar on an empty stomach. It’s a great way to start out the day. But probably not so great of a bedtime drink.
The most popular brand of ACV seems to be Braggs. You can also make your own out of scratch.
Now, here are some amazing things that will truly happen if you drink (the diluted version of) apple cider vinegar.
1. Provides an acetic acid boost.
The vinegar is made with a two-step process.
First, bacteria and yeast are added to the apple cider. The sugars in the apples turns into alcohol. It is then further fermented. The alcohol turns into acetic acid.
Some researches suggest it helps control blood pressure and unclog arteries.
A Japanese study looked at the effects of acetic acid and dietary vinegar on rats with hypertension (high blood pressure). Both were able to significantly reduce blood sugar. The researchers concluded that acetic acid is the reason for the effect by vinegar.
In another research, it was found that acetic acid increased blood flow in the colon. Other acids (butyric and propionic) did not alter blood flow. Those acids even prevents oxygen uptake.
2. Improves a diabetic diet.
Type 2 diabetes is a condition that affects millions worldwide. Diabetics are either unable to produce insulin, or they experience insulin resistance. This means cells don’t respond to insulin the way they should.
Insulin plays a major role in lower blood sugar.
Vinegar was found to improve insulin sensitivity in those with insulin resistance. Even after a high-carb meal, the participants experienced a more significant decrease in blood sugar.
This is why many list cider vinegar in diabetic diets.
But if you have type 2 diabetes, remember to check with your doctor first. Make sure there won’t be any complications with your medication.
3. Help you lose weight.
ACV is often touted as a dieting miracle. Unfortunately, this claim is riddled with both myths and facts.
The acetic acid in vinegar works against enzymes in your stomach that digests starch. This may stop you from absorbing the calories from the carbs. And this can probably help with weight loss. A handful of studies support this claim.
But no one knows yet how effective ACV is because there haven’t been enough research done.
However, there is evidence that ACV can make you feel fuller.
It increases satiety, which means you might eat less. In one study, white bread was served with 3 levels of vinegar. The higher the level of acetic acid in the vinegar, the more full the participants felt. They also had lower blood glucose and insulin levels.
This can help you eat 200 to 275 fewer calories that day.
The bottom line is, apple cider vinegar can definitely help you. There’s no harm in sipping some before each meal (if you stay within limits). But it won’t work any magic by itself.
The most effective way of losing weight is still eating healthy and exercise regularly.
4. Lowers the risk of heart disease.
Cardiovascular disease includes heart disease and stroke. It is currently the leading cause of death.
There are multiple factors that can lead to cardiovascular disease. Some are genetic or environmentally-induced. Some biological factors though, may be decreased with the help of ACV.
In one study, rats were fed a high cholesterol diet. The group that also had acetic acid in their diet had much lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Triglycerides are a type of fat in your blood that can increase risk for heart disease.
In addition to acetic acid, ACV may also contain chlorogenic acid. This antioxidant has effects similar to caffeine. It stops LDL cholesterol particles from oxidizing, shown by various studies. The oxidation of LDL particles crucial in developing heart disease.
Add this to the fact that acetic acid can lower blood pressure, it sounds pretty good. However, most experiments were done on lab rats.
The only human evidence comes from Harvard. Women who ate oil and vinegar salad dressing had a lower risk for heart disease.
The evidence is promising, but not concrete as of yet. Although, it might be beneficial to add some vinegar salad dressing.
5. Helps absorb more nutrients from your food.
Your stomach is usually at a pH level of 1.0 to 2.0. And now, that is really acidic. To put things into perspective, white distilled vinegar is a 2.4. Battery acid is around 1. Thankfully this acid stays in your stomach (unless there are problems such as acid reflux).
This uberly acidic environment is what sterilizes the digestive tract and kills the microbes. When the acid level falls, unfriendly bacteria may start to multiply. On the light side, this can lead to bloating and indigestion. And decreased absorption of vitamins and minerals.
In more extreme cases, it can lead to cancer.
It seems logical to try to up the acid level by ingesting some vinegar. It was also shown that dietary vinegar enhanced calcium absorption in the intestines. Again, this was experimented on our good friend, the rat. But the researchers concluded that this may even help prevent osteoporosis. So it’s still good news.
But, of course, make sure you dilute the apple cider vinegar first. Don’t drink too much acid.
6. Lower risk of heartburn.
As mentioned above, acid for digestion usually stays in your stomach. Unless you have acid reflux. In which the muscle at the entrance of the stomach fails to close properly or at the right time. This allows the acid to escape and go up your esophagus.
This can cause the burning pain in your chest called heartburn. If you experience this more than twice per month, you may have acid reflux disease. It’s also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GRD).
Despite what you may think, various acidic drinks have been noted to prevent heartburn. Other than ACV, coffee and lemon water are also included. Why? Because when diluted with water, there’s an alkalizing effect.
But with ACV, the effects depend on the cause of your heartburn-like symptoms:
Stomach ulcers or esophagus lesions: Vinegar will only make things worse
Something you ate: Adding a bit of acetic acid will help neutralize the acid
As a precaution, make sure you ask your doctor first before adding cider vinegar to your diet if you have heartburn.
7. Balance your body’s pH levels.
Now let’s expand the aforementioned alkalizing effect.
Vinegars, by definition, are pretty acidic. In fact, in the USA, you’re not allowed to label something as vinegar unless the acidity level is at least 4 percent. But unlike others, apple cider vinegar is the one with an alkalizing effect.
Though acidic, ACV promotes an alkaline environment inside your body. This is due to how ACV is broken down and digested.
Many viruses and bacteria are unable to live in an alkaline environment.
When you don’t have enough alkaline, your body takes calcium in an attempt to become alkaline. This leeching of calcium can lead to loss of bone density and osteoporosis.
Despite contradicting claims, many people enjoy better health after switching to a more alkalizing diet. It’s definitely worth a try.
8. Better digestion.
You’ve probably heard all about probiotics. They are live microorganisms that help with digestion and destroy harmful bacteria. We know them from yogurt and other products, such as skin creams.
There are five types of probiotics in apple cider vinegar. They may or may not still be alive when you drink your cup of vinegar though.
Fortunately, there’s another part of the “mother” of ACV (that gunk at the bottom of the bottle): prebiotics.
Prebiotics, as opposed to probiotics, are a special form of fiber. They nourish the friendly bacteria (probiotics) that are already in laying in your gut.
Most benefits from ACV are thanks to prebiotics. So make sure you shake your bottle of ACV well and scoop out the gunk at the bottom.
9. More energy efficient muscles.
Athletes drink all sorts of concoctions for optimal performance.
One of them is pickle juice. A group of young men who were electronically stimulated to cramp were able to stop cramping faster if they drank pickle juice. The hero is the vinegar that’s part of the pickle juice.
This is probably because vinegar contains potassium. This is one of the seven essential minerals for your body. It is responsible for giving you an energy boost. It also helps fine tune muscle control and sense of touch. Without enough potassium, you get muscle twitches and cramps.
Athletes are also drinking apple cider vinegar. In another research on rats, acetic acid boosts glycogen repletion in skeletal muscles. This means the acid helps your muscles turn carbs into energy. And this will definitely give you more fuel for your exercises.
So if you’re planning on a big workout day, drink some ACV and load up on the carbs. You might feel more powerful the next day. But still remember to stay hydrated with regular old water.
10. Protection against cancer.
We all know the dangerous implications of cancer. It is one of the leading causes of death in modern day society.
The disease is characterized by an uncontrollable growth of cells. There are many causes and factors for cancer. There are just as many home remedies that can apparently help prevent it.
Experts suggest ACV has beneficial systemic effects, with historical records. But still need to be “rediscovered” by modern science. In a 2004 study, vinegar was found to have an antitumor effect. (The researchers note that rice vinegar had a larger effect than wine and apple vinegars though).
The fermentation process of ACV formed a neutral alpha-glycan content. This was able to decrease cancerous tumors in mice. Again, it might have a different effect on actual humans. But it’s still a good start.
An observational study also showed that consuming vinegar led to decreased esophageal cancer.
So cider vinegar seems to be able to slow or stop cancer growth. But it’s definitely not the magic cure for something as dangerous as cancer.
11. Fresher breath.
A lot of people use vinegar as a home cleaning tool. It has great antibacterial properties. The handy acetic acid kills bacteria and viruses.
Bad breath is also caused by bacteria. It makes sense to think that swishing around some ACV can kill those microorganisms. And in theory, that’s the truth.
However, experts note that the vinegar probably isn’t as effective as products specifically designed for fresh breath. Treat it more like a nice and convenient side effect.
To prevent this, consider drinking with a straw. And wait at least half an hour before brushing your teeth afterward. This will protect your teeth while still giving you the benefits.
12. Control of candida.
Candida is a chronic yeast disorder. Everyone has candida albicans in their gut. It works to digest sugar. But when you have too much of a sweet tooth, things can get out of hand.
Some symptoms of candida include bad breath, exhaustion, joint pain and digestive problems. It can really lower your quality of life by draining your energy.
Apple cider vinegar is a natural remedy against the disorder. It has antifungal properties and contain enzymes to regulate candida levels. The yeast that ferments the vinegar can also act as a prebiotic.
Do note that there hasn’t been specific research on this. However, apple cider vinegar does seem to be really helpful for your gut.
13. Nutrition boost.
People talk about how apple cider vinegar can detox your body. They cite how potassium can break up mucus. The acetic acid should be able to bind to toxins and take them out too.
Which may all be true. People have experienced good results. Apple vinegar has been found to clear sinuses and heal sore throats too.
However, there aren’t any true scientific evidence to back up the claims.
What minerals and vitamins can you get though? Let’s take a look:
Calcium: 2% of daily value
Phosphorus: 2% of daily value
Iron: 3% of daily value
Magnesium: 3% of daily value
Potassium: 5% of daily value
Manganese: 30% of daily value
Dietary manganese is usually forgotten, but still crucial to our bodily functions. It is responsible for bone production. It helps control blood sugar and fights free radicals.
In addition, manganese works for skin integrity. It plays a crucial role in creating collagen. So while ACV may or may not detox your body, it can still help give you healthy skin.
There are also some benefits that you can get without directly drinking apple cider vinegar. It’s great if you want to take advantage of it but don’t really like the taste.
14. Cleans food.
Vinegar is often used as a cleaning supply. It has many antibacterial properties.
Research shows that it can reduce Salmonella and other pathogens. The researchers used lemon water and diluted vinegar to clean fresh rocket leaves and shredded onion. And for best results, you can actually try combining the two cleaning agents. By using a 1:1 mixture, the Salmonella was almost completely destroyed.
To use, fill a spray bottle with diluted ACV. Then spritz your produce before rinsing and serving. That doesn’t mean salads with ACV dressing is spotless though. More research is needed. But some experts say the other ingredients in salad dressing might negate the effect.
15. Gets rid of smelly feet.
Here’s great news if you often get sweaty, or just generally smelly, feet. Vinegar can help freshen your breath. And it can freshen your feet too.
At the end of the day, moisten paper towels with the apple cider vinegar. Give your feet a few wipes and you’re all set.
16. Relieves jellyfish stings.
Not sure how many people deal with jellyfish on a regular basis. But if you ever get stung, don’t worry. Get some diluted vinegar.
According to WebMD, vinegar helps deactivate the stinging cells. If vinegar isn’t available, you can also use baking soda. After rinsing, soak the area with hot water (or ice packs).
But if you have immediate access to hot water, that works even better, according to one study.
17. Fights dandruff.
Dandruff is a common but annoying scalp condition. It can be caused by overly oily or dry skin, or a fungus called malassezia.
You can try over-the-counter shampoos and treatments. Look for shampoos that contain:
Pyrithione zinc: reduces fungus
Coal tar: slows how quickly scalp cells die and flake off
Salicylic acid: eliminate scaling
Selenium sulfide: slow scalp cells from dying and relieve malassezia
Of course, there are also natural remedies.
Some experts recommend using cider vinegar for your dandruff problem. The vinegar’s acidity changes the pH of your scalp and also has antibacterial properties.
Dilute ACV with equal parts water in a spray bottle. Spritz onto your scalp evenly. Then wrap your head with a towel. After letting it sit in for at least 15 minutes, wash as usual. For best results, do this process twice a week.
Some things to be careful of
Despite all the great stuff, apple cider vinegar is vinegar and acidic.
You must dilute the ACV just a bit. Don’t just drink it straight out of the bottle. And since the acid can erode your teeth enamel, drink with a straw for best results.
The acid can also irritate your skin. Especially if you have burns or lesions. Sure, apple cider vinegar is antibacterial. But if you can help it, try not to use it for your acne breakout. Or for cleaning wounds. Or sunburn. The vinegar might just make things worse.
And, as always, take things with a grain of salt. The world of apple cider vinegar benefits is still much uncharted. There’s a bunch of stuff we don’t know much about.
Effects may be different for everyone. And some might turn out to be bogus claims. But ACV is still a much loved gem.
A 13 year old once made lollipops with apple cider vinegar and sugar. To cure hiccups. People also swear that ACV can kick a sore throat’s butt or clear up your stuffed up nose. You may find that it works miracles for you too.
This article was originally published by Jen Reviews. Reprinted with permission.