Apple Cider Vinegar is the most popular type of vinegar in the natural health community.
It is claimed to lead to all sorts of benefits, many of which are supported by science. This includes weight loss, reduced cholesterol, lower blood sugar levels and improved symptoms of diabetes.
The ancient folk remedy, and has been used for various household and cooking purposes.
Here are 6 health benefits of apple cider vinegar that are supported by scientific research.
1. High in Acetic Acid, With Potent Biological Effects
Apple cider vinegar is made in a two-step process, related to how alcohol is made.
The first step exposes crushed apples (or apple cider) to yeast, which ferment the sugars and turn them into alcohol.
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In the second step, bacteria are added to the alcohol solution, which further ferment the alcohol and turn it into acetic acid, the main active compound in vinegar.
In French, the word “vinegar” actually means “sour wine.”
Organic, unfiltered apple cider vinegar (like Bragg’s) also contains “mother,” strands of proteins, enzymes and friendly bacteria that give the product a murky appearance. Some people believe that the “mother” is responsible for most of the health benefits, although there are currently no studies to support this.
Apple cider vinegar only contains about three calories per tablespoon, which is very low. There are not many vitamins or minerals in it, but it does contain a small amount of potassium. Quality apple cider vinegar also contains some amino acids and antioxidants.
2. Can Kill Many Types of Harmful Bacteria
Vinegar can help kill pathogens, including bacteria. It has traditionally been used for cleaning and disinfecting, treating nail fungus, lice, warts and ear infections.
Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, used vinegar for wound cleaning over two thousand years ago.
Vinegar has also been used as a food preservative, and studies show that it inhibits bacteria (like E. coli) from growing in food and spoiling it. If you’re looking for a natural way to preserve your food, then apple cider vinegar could be highly useful.
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3. May Have Protective Effects Against Cancer
Cancer is a terrible disease characterized by the uncontrolled growth of cells. There is a lot of hype online about the anti-cancer effects of apple cider vinegar.
In fact, numerous studies have shown that various types of vinegar can kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. However, all of the studies on this were done in isolated cells in test tubes, or rats, which proves nothing about what happens in a living, breathing human.
That said, some observational studies in humans have shown that vinegar consumption is linked to decreased esophageal cancer in China, but increased bladder cancer in Serbia
It is possible that consuming apple cider vinegar may help prevent cancer, but this needs to be researched more before any recommendations can be made.
4. Lowers Cholesterol and Improves Heart Health
Heart disease is currently the world’s most common cause of premature death (source)
It is known that several biological factors are linked to either a decreased or increased risk of heart disease. Several of these “risk factors” can be improved by vinegar consumption, but many of the studies were done in animals.
These animal studies suggest that apple cider vinegar can lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels, along with several other heart disease risk factors. There are also some studies showing that vinegar reduces blood pressure in rats, which is a major risk factor for heart disease and kidney problems.
The only human evidence so far is an observational study from Harvard showing that women who ate salad dressings with vinegar had a reduced risk of heart disease (Source).
But this type of study can only show an association, it cannot prove that the vinegar caused anything. As mentioned above, human studies also show that apple cider vinegar can lower blood sugar levels, improve insulin sensitivity and help fight diabetes. These factors should also lead to reduced risk of heart disease.
5. Lowers Blood Sugar Levels and Fights Diabetes
By far, the most successful application of vinegar to date is in patients with type 2 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes is characterized by high blood sugar levels, either because of insulin resistance or an inability to produce insulin (source). However, high blood sugar can also be a problem in people who don’t have diabetes. It is a major cause of aging and various chronic diseases.
Pretty much everyone should benefit from keeping their blood sugar levels in the normal range. The most effective (and healthiest) way to do that is to avoid refined carbs and sugar, but apple cider vinegar can also have a powerful effect.
Vinegar has been shown to have numerous benefits for blood sugar and insulin levels:
Improves insulin sensitivity during a high-carb meal by 19–34% and significantly lowers blood sugar and insulin responses. If you’re currently taking blood-sugar-lowering medications, check with your doctor before increasing your intake of any type of vinegar.
A common dosage for apple cider vinegar ranges from 1 teaspoon to 2 tablespoons per day, either used in cooking or mixed in a glass of water.
There are a lot of wild claims about apple cider vinegar on the internet. Some say that it can increase energy levels and have all sorts of beneficial effects on health.
Unfortunately, many of these claims are not supported by science. Of course, absence of proof isn’t proof that something isn’t happening and anecdotes often end up becoming supported by science down the line.
However, I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for more studies, since research on natural health products like these are both few and far between. From the little evidence available, I think that apple cider vinegar may be useful and is definitely a good candidate for some experimentation if you’re interested in it.
At the very least, apple cider vinegar seems to be safe as long as you don’t go overboard and take excessive amounts.