Apple Cider Vinegar Is the Latest Health Hack. 4 Unexpected Ways It Can Help

Vinegar has a long history, dating back to at least 5,000 B.C. Its many uses include preservation, flavoring, pickling and medicine. It also has a rich history in ancient Egypt, China and Greece as a health aid.

Apple cider vinegar has antimicrobial and antioxidant properties, and there’s research to back up at least some of the claims circulating about its wellness benefits.

Adding apple cider vinegar to your routine may help boost your wellness. Read on to learn about the possible health benefits and the best dosage to follow. For more kitchen-to-wellness content, here’s whether your nonstick cookware is safe to use and 11 foods that should not be staples of your diet.

Read more: 12 Best Probiotic Foods to Eat for Gut Health

What is apple cider vinegar?

When you combine apples, sugar and yeast and allow it to ferment, it creates apple cider vinegar. Over several weeks, the yeast will digest the sugar to make alcohol. Once this happens, natural bacteria will turn the alcohol into acetic acid, which is where the pungent odor and taste of apple cider vinegar come from.

You have two options when you buy apple cider vinegar: filtered and pasteurized, or raw and unfiltered. The cloudy sediment that collects in the bottom of the bottle is “the mother,” which is a combination of bacteria and yeast. Some speculate the mother is what provides the health benefits, as it contains trace amounts of healthy bacteria and probiotics.

Apple cider vinegar can be used in the kitchen, around the home and for your health as a:

  • Deodorizer
  • Preservative
  • Dressing or vinaigrette
  • Cleaner
  • Facial toner
  • Marinade
  • Fruit and vegetable wash
  • Denture cleaner
  • Hair rinse
  • Dandruff treatment
  • Weed killer
  • Mouthwash

A bottle of apple cider vinegar pouring over a spoon A bottle of apple cider vinegar pouring over a spoon

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4 benefits of apple cider vinegar

Although more research is needed, several small and medium-sized studies show the benefits of apple cider vinegar for some health issues and as a potential weight loss aid.

May help control blood sugar and diabetes

Up to 95% of diabetics have type 2 diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Type 2 diabetes occurs from insulin resistance, or the body’s inability to produce insulin.

Even if you don’t have diabetes, it’s best to keep blood sugar levels in the normal range. Studies have shown that apple cider vinegar can improve insulin response and lower blood sugar levels after meals.

Consuming apple cider vinegar before going to sleep has also been shown to reduce fasting blood sugar after waking. Make sure to talk with your doctor before consuming ACV if you have diabetes, especially if you’re on medication.

Read more: The Atlantic Diet: Why Eating Whole, Local Foods May Improve Your Health

Kills harmful bacteria

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Those looking to preserve food naturally may want to consider using apple cider vinegar. It is a known pathogen killer, which includes microbes like staph and candida.

Vinegar is a popular preservative in Korea since it can prevent E. coli and norovirus from growing in food. E. coli can cause food poisoning when consumed, but the bactericidal effects of the acetic acid in apple cider vinegar can prevent it from occurring.

Could lead to weight loss

Another benefit of apple cider vinegar that may be useful is its ability to help with weight loss. When taken before or during a meal, ACV has been shown to help with satiety (the feeling of fullness).

In one study, participants ate approximately 200 to 275 fewer calories when apple cider vinegar was combined with a meal. Over three months, participants taking one to two tablespoons of ACV per day saw up to 3.7 pounds in weight loss and a reduction in body fat.

Might improve cholesterol levels

High cholesterol and triglyceride levels can increase your risk of heart disease.

Incorporating up to an ounce of apple cider vinegar into your day, along with a lower-calorie diet, may reduce total cholesterol and triglycerides while also increasing HDL “good” cholesterol.

Those with type 2 diabetes may also see positive results on their total cholesterol and triglyceride levels when adding a half ounce of ACV to their diet.

Read more: 7 Money-Saving Tips for Eating Healthily on a Budget

Potential side effects

Although there are benefits of apple cider vinegar usage, there are also potential side effects to consider. The high acidity can strip tooth enamel, which won’t come back once it’s gone. It may cause damage to your esophagus or throat if you drink it undiluted.

Here are some other potential side effects of apple cider vinegar:

  • Can cause hypokalemia (low potassium levels)
  • Can interact with diuretics, insulin and other medications
  • Can cause nausea or vomiting

Watering it down with water or juice not only makes ACV more palatable, but it can also reduce the risk of damaging your throat and teeth. Combining one or two tablespoons with either may also cure an upset stomach.

Apple cider vinegar dosage

Apple cider vinegar dosage depends on the reason you’re using it. Two teaspoons to two tablespoons is the general dosage recommendation.

If you want to drink it, dilute it with water or your favorite juice or tea. You can also eat it by incorporating it in your favorite foods, especially dressings, vinaigrettes and even when making your own mayonnaise.

You can also add a cup or two to a bath for skin issues. Mixing a tablespoon of ACV with a cup of water, and then soaking gauze or cotton in the solution can make a wet wrap.

To use apple cider vinegar as a hair rinse, combine up to two tablespoons with a cup of water, then pour over the hair after shampooing. Wait five minutes, then rinse. It can be drying, so use it sparingly. ACV can also irritate the scalp, so a weaker dilution may be better.

Hand holding a small cup of apple cider vinegar Hand holding a small cup of apple cider vinegar

Annick Vanderschelden/Moment/Getty Images

Bottom line

While some studies have found the benefits of apple cider vinegar, we need more research to definitively prove how beneficial ACV is. It may help with weight loss, controlling type 2 diabetes, blood sugar and cholesterol and it can also prevent harmful bacteria growth on foods. Drinking undiluted apple cider vinegar can cause tooth enamel erosion or throat damage. Mixing ACV with water or juice before consuming it can prevent damage to the teeth and throat. As with any natural remedy, speak with your doctor before trying apple cider vinegar and do a skin test before using it on your skin.


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