Apple cider vinegar benefits have gotten a lot more attention in recent years. It was once an overlooked ingredient present in various food condiments like salad dressings, marinades, and chutneys. But now, the vinegar is being consumed as it is on its own by health aficionados who are using the vinegar as an ingredient with hopes of enhancing their overall health and wellbeing.
One of our writers even hopped on the trend to see what happened when we drank apple cider vinegar for 30 days after reading up on it. According to research published in the Journal of Functional Foods (opens in new tab), vinegar made from fermented apple juice can aid weight loss, increase the acidity in your stomach, and manage blood sugar levels. Meanwhile, other research (opens in new tab) suggests that this vinegar can also lower cholesterol. However, this area of study on cider vinegar currently lacks testing on humans.
Since research is still being developed on the ingredient we took this health craze to expert nutritionists to help us pull apart fact from fiction on apple cider vinegar benefits. With their help, read on to find out how you can find out the safest way to ingest apple cider vinegar and any additional insight on the ingredient.
What is apple cider vinegar?
Apple cider vinegar – which often gets referred to as ACV – has gained cult status within the health industry because of the handful of benefits it brings (more on this below).
Remember the ginger shot craze? Well, in more recent times ACV has claimed this ‘shot spot’, with health enthusiasts taking on 30-day shot challenges in a bid to reap the many rewards ACV promises. But despite its current fame, this now trending vinegar comes from very humble beginnings.
As Vic Coppin, nutrition expert at MuscleFood (opens in new tab) explains: “Apple cider vinegar is made up of mostly apple juice, however, the added sugar in the juice turns into alcohol (known as fermentation), and the bacteria then turns the alcohol into acetic acid which is how apple cider vinegar gets its famous strong smell and sour taste.”
Sometimes, along with being called ACV, this health product can also be referred to as ‘The Mother’, due to the bacteria which is added which ‘gives rise’ to the vinegar.
What are the benefits of apple cider vinegar?
1. It could help aid weight loss
According to research published in the Journal of Functional Foods (opens in new tab), there's a connection between apple cider vinegar and weight loss.
The 2017 clinical trial made this discovery after placing participants on a diet eating 250 calories less a day over a 12-week period. Half the group also had to drink 0.5 fl oz/15 ml of apple cider vinegar, while the other half didn’t. The result? The group that drank the shot of apple cider vinegar lost around 3 lbs more than the group that didn’t.
But while this is all well and good, as Coppin warns: “Taking apple cider vinegar as a quick fix won't help with long-term weight loss. Weight loss will only occur if you’re in a calorie deficit whilst maintaining a balanced diet.”
2. It increases stomach acidity
This might not sound like a good thing – but stomach acidity is key when it comes to good digestion.
That’s because the main substance in vinegar is acetic acid. According to science (opens in new tab), this acid is what gives vinegar its strong, sour aroma and flavor. And it’s what gives it its high PH level too.
But why is increasing your stomach’s acidity a good thing? As Pauline Cox (opens in new tab) MSc, functional nutritionist for Wiley's Finest (opens in new tab) tells us: “ACV increases stomach acidity. The key to optimum health lies in absorption, and absorption starts in the stomach.”
The stomach is designed to be a highly acidic environment.
“At optimum levels, it has a pH of between pH1-3,” Cox explains. “This is very, very acidic. Stomach acid can kill invading pathogens, microbes or bacteria that enter via our mouth. A less acidic stomach leaves us vulnerable to invasion by foreign bacteria and gastrointestinal infections.”
Cox also mentions we need a very acidic stomach to break down protein and absorb key vitamins and minerals.
She says: “Protein is made up of building blocks called amino acids. These amino acids are incredibly important for the body. They are the raw materials we need to make all proteins, from our muscle tissue, skin and bones to our happy hormones. Without adequate amino acids we can develop poor skin healing, hair thinning, weak and brittle nails, low mood, depression and even osteoporosis.”
Pauline Cox is a functional nutritionist with columns in Top Sante and other health publications. Pauline is highly experienced in providing advice about getting the right nutrients in your diet and where you may need to supplement.
3. It could manage your blood sugar levels
Along with promoting good gut health, according to a small study conducted by the American Diabetes Association (opens in new tab), apple cider vinegar can also help reduce the blood glucose spikes after eating – especially in people with Type 1 Diabetes.
Describing how ACV helps do this, Coppin says: “The acetic acid in vinegar blocks the enzymes that help our bodies to digest starch which then leads to a smaller surge in blood sugar.”
Is apple cider vinegar good for you?
The short answer to this question is: yes, apple cider vinegar can be good for you if taken correctly. Just make sure you’re getting the best quality apple cider vinegar by picking options from raw and unpasteurized sources.
Cox explains: “Raw, unpasteurized apple cider vinegar is a rich source of beneficial bacteria which is beneficial for gut health and microbiome diversity.
“A healthy, diverse gut microbiome has broad implications for overall health, including health digestion, immune function, inflammatory levels and gut brain communication.”
And Coppin agrees. She says: “Whilst it contains little to no vitamins and minerals, apple cider vinegar does contain amino acids and antioxidants that can help to protect against the cell damage that free radicals cause, known as oxidative stress, such as tissue trauma or environmental pollution, for example.”
However, if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or taking certain medications, Coppin advises speaking to your health care provider first before including it in your diet.
How can you work apple cider vinegar into your diet?
Gone are the days of just using this vinegar in salad dressings and marinades. While these are brilliant ways of including apple cider vinegar in your diet, if diluted properly with water, you can drink it.
Coppin says: “It needs to be diluted properly with water due to the strength of its acidity, which can damage your teeth, and throat, and upset your stomach if ingested otherwise.
“It’s recommended that anywhere between a teaspoon to a tablespoon is mixed with around 250ml of water.”
It’s also important to note that there while there is no specific guidance on consuming apple cider vinegar, “One to two tablespoons per day will be sufficient for those looking to implement it within their diet and experience the benefits it can offer,” Vic tells us.
After all, “it's classed as a remedy and not as a medicine,” she says.
Becks is a freelance journalist and writer with more than 7 years of experience in the field. She writes health and lifestyle content for a range of titles including Live Science, Top Ten Reviews, Tom’s Guide, Stylist, The Independent, and more. She also ghostwrites for a number of Physiotherapists and Osteopaths.
Health has been a big part of Becks’ lifestyle since time began. When she’s not writing about the topic of health, she’s in the gym learning new compound exercises. And when she’s not in the gym, she’s most probably reading.
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