Apple Cider Vinegar Guide
Apple Cider Vinegar has been used in cooking for centuries. However, it has also recently become popular as a health supplement. Discover the health benefits of apple cider vinegar today in our complete guide.
What is Apple Cider Vinegar?
Apple Cider Vinegar – as you probably guessed from the name – is a vinegar made from apple cider.
The vinegar typically has a pale or medium-gold color. It’s also known as cider vinegar or ACV and has been rumored to lead to surprising health benefits – including weight loss, detoxification, and more.
People have used apple cider vinegar as a flavoring ingredient for centuries. Today, it’s still used more as a cooking ingredient than for its health purposes. You can use ACV as a salad dressing or vinaigrette, for example. Some people also use it to make chutneys or as a food preservative.
Manufacturers make apple cider vinegar by crushing apples and extracting the liquid. Then, bacteria and yeast are added to the liquid, which kickstarts the alcoholic fermentation process. The sugars in the fruit juice turn into alcohol, which gives you cider. Then, manufacturers take this apple cider and turn it into apple cider vinegar using acid-forming bacteria – including acetic acid and malic acid.
Health Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is one of the most talked-about health foods of the last few years.
Supporters of ACV claim it can be used for everything from weight loss to diabetes treatment.
Here are the most popular and well-known benefits of apple cider vinegar:
Apple cider vinegar has about 3 calories in each tablespoon. That doesn’t make it a good weight loss agent on its own, but it means you can safely drink it to satisfy hunger cravings and maintain your current diet plan.
Most apple cider vinegar studies indicate that it can help you feel fuller when taken before meals. One study showed that people who eat apple cider vinegar along with high-carb meals end up eating 200 to 300 fewer calories per day than people who don’t eat apple cider vinegar with those meals.
That reduced daily calorie intake translates to significant weight loss over time.
Another study indicated a direct correlation between apple cider vinegar intake and weight loss. That study measured weight loss in obese individuals and found that those who took one tablespoon (15mL) of apple cider vinegar per day lost an average of 2.6 pounds, or 1.2 kilograms. Those who took twice that amount, two tablespoons or 30mL per day, lose 3.7 pounds or 1.7 kilograms on average.
Keep in mind that the study took place over a 12 week (3 month) period, so 2.6 to 3.7 pounds of weight loss isn’t that significant – but it’s better than 0 weight loss or weight gain.
Participants in that study also experienced reduced belly fat, waist circumference, and blood triglyceride levels – all of which are correlated with better overall health.
Improved Cardiovascular Health
Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer in the world today. Apple cider vinegar, however, has shown promising benefits as a preventative treatment for cardiovascular disease.
Apple cider vinegar was shown to reduce cholesterol levels in one study and triglyceride levels in another study. That’s good. Unfortunately, both of those studies were done on rats. That’s bad. Researchers have not been able to replicate these effects in human studies.
Another study, also performed on rats, showed that rats given apple cider vinegar were able to reduce their blood pressure.
However, apple cider vinegar does contain an antioxidant called chlorogenic acid. This acid has been shown to protect LDL cholesterol particles from oxidation. When LDL cholesterol particles get oxidized, they harden and can collect in your arteries. Antioxidants break apart these fatty molecules and can reduce your risk of a heart attack and stroke.
Possible Anti-Cancer Benefits
There are some who claim that apple cider vinegar can shrink tumors and neutralize cancer cells. Some of the biggest supporters of apple cider vinegar on the internet claim that it’s a “cure” for cancer.
To date, no major studies from reputable organizations show a link between cancer risk and apple cider vinegar. There doesn’t appear to be any connection.
As testament to that fact, two observational studies can be found online. Remember that observational studies don’t definitively prove anything. One study from China showed that those who drank apple cider vinegar were less likely to suffer from esophageal cancer.
Another study from Serbia showed that those who drank apple cider vinegar were more likely to suffer from bladder cancer.
So what do either of those studies mean?
Because they were observational studies, they don’t indicate a definitive connection between apple cider vinegar and any disease.
Supporters of apple cider vinegar will often point towards some additional studies that “prove” the anti-cancer benefits. Those 4 studies can be found here: 1, 2, 3, and 4. Unfortunately, these studies have one glaring flaw: they measured rice vinegar, not apple cider vinegar.
Oh, and the anti-cancer studies were also performed not on humans, but on rats and test tubes. How does apple cider vinegar reduce cancer in a living, breathing, human being? We can’t answer that question because only a limited number of studies have been performed thus far.
While it may not help prevent cancer (at least proven), it's other health benefits would most definitely make you more comfortable while fighting cancer.
Lower Blood Sugar Levels
Diabetics are some of the biggest supporters of apple cider vinegar because the compound has proven to be an effective way to lower blood sugar levels. This effect has been particularly noticeable in those who suffer from type 2 diabetes.
Those who have type 2 diabetes typically have higher blood sugar levels because they are insulin resistant or their bodies can’t produce enough insulin (or both).
Even if you don’t have diabetes, you may still suffer from high blood sugar levels. Recent research has suggested that high blood sugar levels could be the reason behind aging and various chronic diseases.
In any case, apple cider vinegar has demonstrated its effectiveness as a high blood pressure remedy in the following studies:
— Apple cider vinegar was shown to improve insulin sensitivity while eating high carb meals by 19% to 34% and significantly lower blood glucose and insulin responses to that meal, which means diabetics can more easily regulate their blood sugar
— Another study showed that apple cider vinegar reduced blood sugar levels by 34% after type II diabetics consumed 50 grams of white bread (something that most diabetics cannot eat)
— Apple cider vinegar demonstrated modest effectiveness at reducing fasting blood sugar levels. In one study, those who took two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar before bedtime were observed to have 4% lower fasting blood sugar levels upon waking up.
Your body is filled with billions of bacteria. Some of this bacteria is good: it helps you digest food and break down toxins. Other bacteria is harmful and can lead to disease and illness.
Apple cider vinegar has shown some surprising benefits as an anti-bacterial agent. In one study, apple cider vinegar was found to kill pathogens, including bacteria, which led to a reduced risk of disease, illness, and infection.
Of course, supporters of apple cider vinegar like to remind people that apple cider vinegar has been used for centuries to kill bacteria.
Hippocrates, for example, used vinegar (not necessarily apple cider vinegar) to clean wounds over 2,000 years ago. Ancient healers throughout history used it as a powerful disinfectant (even if they didn’t necessarily know how it worked).
Vinegar is also used as a food preservative. Leaving food in vinegar can help it last for a long time without spoiling, and vinegar is particularly effective at combating e. coli bacteria.
Of course, none of these benefits are unique to apple cider vinegar. They apply to all types of vinegar.
Nevertheless, some people claim that the bacteria-killing benefits of apple cider vinegar are so powerful that they use it as a treatment for acne and skin infections.
The reason apple cider vinegar is preferred over standard vinegar as a skin treatment is because apple cider vinegar has minor coloring effects that can improve the tone of the skin. Some also believe that the vitamins from the apples inside the apple cider vinegar encourage healthy skin growth.
How to Use Apple Cider Vinegar
Ready to start taking apple cider vinegar for its health benefits?
In studies, participants typically take one to two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar every day. That’s 15-30mL.
If you’re brave, you can do a shot of the stuff yourself (a typical shot glass is 30mL). However, as soon as the apple cider vinegar hits your tongue, you’ll realize just how awful it tastes.
That’s why some people combine apple cider vinegar with other, stronger-tasting fruit juices. Grapefruit juice is one popular option. Pour yourself a glass (about 250mL) of grapefruit juice and add your two tablespoons (30mL) of apple cider vinegar. Mix together.
Of course, you don’t have to drink apple cider vinegar. You can use it as a salad dressing, like a vinaigrette. Put it on salads or your favorite vegetables.
If you’re drinking apple cider vinegar to reduce diabetes symptoms (which has been shown to reduce fasting blood sugar levels by 4% overnight), then you should mix it with a glass of water before bed. Obviously, you don’t want to drink a glass of sugar juice just before bed – so a full glass of water mixed with two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar is often the best option.
How to Buy Apple Cider Vinegar
There are two main types of apple cider vinegar to buy.
You can buy the average vinegar you find on store shelves. It’s cheap and it’s pure apple cider vinegar with no additives.
Walmart sells standard apple cider vinegar in 1 gallon jugs for around $4. Most supermarkets have similar products at similar prices.
Or, you can buy raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar, which is the stuff typically used for health benefits.
The main difference between these two types of vinegar is the fact that unfiltered vinegar contains sediment. This sediment is undesirable for cooking, but it’s thought to be a major source of the health benefits of ACV. That sediment is bacteria leftover from the fermentation process.
If you want to buy raw and unfiltered apple cider vinegar, then most nutritional guides will point you towards Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar, which comes in 32 ounce bottles for about $10 to $15. Bragg can be found at Amazon as well as health food stores like GNC and the Vitamin Shoppe.
Who Should Use Apple Cider Vinegar?
Apple cider vinegar tastes awful: there’s no way to avoid that. Taste is the number one reason why most people stop eating apple cider vinegar.
Apple cider vinegar also has a very limited nutritional profile. Each 100 gram serving contains just 22 calories, 0 fat, 0 cholesterol, and 0 protein. There are trace amounts of potassium (73mg, or 2% daily value) and sugar (0.4 grams), but that’s pretty much it.
Given that limited nutritional profile, many people are surprised to discover the purported benefits of apple cider vinegar.
Apple cider vinegar has proven to be effective for weight loss, for example. Some studies have also shown that it can boost cardiovascular health, control blood sugar, and reduce unhealthy cholesterol levels.
More research is needed to confirm some of the crazier benefits of apple cider vinegar – like the anti-cancer benefits. So far, the majority of apple cider vinegar studies have been performed on rats, which makes it difficult to suggest ACV as a 100% effective remedy for human diseases.
Nevertheless, apple cider vinegar is prized around the world to this day as a flavoring ingredient, food preservative, and natural remedy.