Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is a type of vinegar produced from fermented apple juice. It is made through a two-step process. First, yeast is added to apple juice to break down the sugars and turn them into alcohol. After that, bacteria is added to the apple alcohol solution to converts it into acetic acid – the active ingredient in vinegar.
Apple cider vinegar has a light yellow to brown color and can be found filtered or unfiltered. The unfiltered ACV contains a dark, cloudy sediment called the “mother of vinegar”, a substance composed of cellulose and acetic acid bacteria. This means there are probiotics and enzymes present, and gives it a cloudy or murky appearance.
The filtered ACV simply has had the “mother” removed, leaving a clear, amber-colored vinegar. It has a milder apple flavor and is commonly the cheaper option at most grocery stores.
Unlike other types of vinegar, such as white vinegar, rice wine vinegar, and balsamic vinegar, which are mainly used for cooking, apple cider vinegar is used primarily for health purposes.
The ancient Greek physician Hippocrates was known to prescribe apple cider vinegar to treat various infections, and soldiers in the American Civil War used it to treat wounds.
Apple Cider Vinegar Nutrition Facts
Apple cider vinegar is very low in calories and contains no fat or cholesterol. As per the USDA National Nutrient Database, ACV contains small amounts of potassium, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, iron, calcium, and amino acids.
Apple cider vinegar is also rich in acetic acid, lactic acid, and other organic compounds, which are known to have powerful antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial activity.
Apple Cider Vinegar Uses and Benefits
1. Lowers cholesterol levels
Both acetic acid and polyphenols found in apple cider vinegar have been studied to have lipid-lowering effects. Acetic acid inhibits fatty acid and sterol synthesis by activating AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), a crucial enzyme in the pathway of cholesterol and fatty acid synthesis.
Polyphenols decrease LDL cholesterol and increase HDL cholesterol in humans by suppressing lipoprotein secretion in the intestine and inhibiting lipase activity.
A 2006 study found that rats fed acetic acid (the main ingredient in vinegar) had significantly lower total cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Large, human trials are needed to see if the same results occur in humans .
2. Controls blood sugar
The acetic acid in vinegar appears to slow starch digestion and reduce the glycemic index of starchy foods.
A 2017 study published in Diabetes Research & Clinical Practice suggested that the intake of vinegar can improve insulin sensitivity. Low insulin sensitivity can cause blood glucose levels to rise and may lead to diabetes .
To keep blood sugar levels steady, try dilute one to two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in a glass of water and consume it before meals.
3. Aids in weight loss
Consuming acetic acid on a daily basis has been shown to be useful in reducing belly fat and control body weight.
A 12-week study from Japan reported that people who had consumed up to 30 ml of vinegar per day experienced a modest reduction in body weight, body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, and visceral fat area .
4. Lowers blood pressure
Apple cider vinegar can also help keep your blood pressure in check. High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease. It forces the heart to work harder, causing the heart muscle to weaken and deteriorate over time.
A study conducted in Japan showed that rats fed with acetic acid – the main component of vinegar – lowered levels of blood pressure by blocking an enzyme that raises blood pressure .
5. Improves gut health
Apple cider vinegar has been recognized for its role in improving gut health by introducing good bacteria into your digestive system. This bacteria can deliver a host of added gut bacteria benefits like increased immunity and an improved ability to digest and absorb nutrients.
6. Eliminates body odor
ACV’s antibacterial properties will kill any odor-causing bacteria and prevent them from growing on your skin. If you’re naturally a smellier person, try using apple cider vinegar to get rid of body odor in your shower routine.
Add one cup of unfiltered apple cider vinegar in your bath water and soak for 8-10 minutes. Apple cider vinegar bath can be taken after a strenuous workout to control excessive sweating.
Alternatively, you can dab a little unfiltered apple cider vinegar on a cotton ball and apply it directly on your underarms. Leave it to dry and then wash it off. This will reduce the pH of the skin, thereby eradicate the armpit odor.
7. Fights fungal infection
Apple cider vinegar can be used to treat fungal infections like candida, athlete’s foot, toenail fungus, or jock itch.
The probiotics and acetic acid in ACV kill the fungus on the skin surface, prevent the infection from spreading and speed up the recovery process.
You can either drink or apply apple cider vinegar topically – or maybe both. For consumption, add two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to one cup of warm water and drink it twice a day.
To use it topically, dilute apple cider vinegar with an equal amount of water, soak a cotton ball in the solution and apply directly on the affected skin. Leave it on for 15-20 minutes, and then rinse off with clean water.
8. Reduces acid reflux
Apple cider vinegar is a strong antimicrobial agent which has the ability to eliminate bad bacteria in the gut. Since acid reflux can be caused by bacterial imbalances in the gut, experts believe that this could help prevent acid reflux.
Moreover, ACV is rich in pectin, enzymes, and protein, all of which are known to reduce acid reflux. Dilute one tablespoon of ACV in a glass of water and drink it just before eating.
9. Relieves sore throat
Due to its antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, apple cider vinegar can be used to help break down mucus in the throat and stop bacteria from spreading.
If you sense a sore throat coming on, try diluting 1 to 2 tablespoons of ACV in one cup of water and gargle with it. Then take a small sip of the mixture. Make sure to drink lots of water to prevent the acidity from burning your throat.
10. Treats dandruff
Apple cider vinegar has antifungal properties, which makes it effective in reducing and preventing dandruff-causing yeast on the scalp.
Mix equal parts apple cider vinegar and water in a spray bottle. After shampooing, just spritz over your scalp and leave for 10-15 minutes. Rinse with cold water and repeat every few days.
How to Take Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is highly acidic so it should be diluted in water before you drink it. Otherwise, the acidity could damage your tooth enamel or burn your throat.
There is no ideal amount that you should take each day. Many people take anywhere from one to two tablespoons per day, but you shouldn’t exceed two tablespoons per day.
If you’re using an unfiltered ACV which still contains the mother, you should always shake the bottle thoroughly before use. The mother has a tendency to settle to the bottom, and shaking the container ensures that you get some of it in every serving.