Apple cider vinegar remedies have long been used to combat an array of ailments. Certainly, this aromatic potion reigns among the most popular folk cures of all time. But is its increasing popularity simply a result of great publicity? Is there any truth to apple cider vinegar’s alleged salubrious qualities? Hopefully, the following overview of apple cider vinegar benefits, uses, and side effects will distinguish fact from fiction, and clarify for you the role apple cider vinegar plays in your good health endeavors.
What Is Apple Cider Vinegar?
Of all the types of vinegar, apple cider vinegar wins the popularity crown. Produced from fermented apples, apple cider vinegar, or ACV, gained popularity with natural health enthusiasts during the 1970s. However, as early as 400 B.C. the Greek doctor and purported “Father of Medicine” Hippocrates used apple cider vinegar to medicate wounds.
Centuries later, ACV is presently declared as a home remedy for obesity, infections, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, acid reflux disease, heartburn, poor circulation, type 2 diabetes, and skin maladies, among other disorders. Medical authorities caution that there is none or not enough hardline scientific evidence to support these claims. In spite of the evidence-based facts (or lack thereof), everyday folk are not ready to trash centuries-old lore that appears to quell diehard ACV believers.
Apple Cider Vinegar Ingredients
Acetic acid, or ethanoic acid, is the powerful ingredient in apple cider vinegar. Further constituents such as pectin, amino acids, pantothenic acid, citric acid, malic acid, sodium, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and iron offer other apple cider vinegar benefits.
ACV colors range from pale- to dark-brown. It’s made from the juice of crushed apples that has undergone a fermentation process whereby yeast is added. During the initial fermentation phase, the fruit sugars are converted to alcohol. A second bacteria-adding phase yields acetic acid—the main component which, in conjunction with malic acid from the apple juice, gives apple cider vinegar both its acrid odor and sour taste. On account of its apple origins, apple cider vinegar attributes include potent polyphenols, which are chemical antioxidant compounds commonly found in fruits and vegetables.
ACV Variety, Choose Wisely
Of all the apple cider vinegar types, unpasteurized is the organic variety that usually contains the “mother of vinegar,” or Mycoderma aceti, a harmless, cobweb-like mass that collects at the bottom of most AVC jars and carries the live bacteria. Raw Braggs Organic Apple Cider Vinegar is a trusted apple cider vinegar drink that contains the “mother.” Other ACV filtered lines that do not contain the “mother” are heated to kill the bacteria before product packaging; however, mother can still develop once the liquid is exposed to air.
Choose your apple cider vinegar products carefully. An apple cider vinegar label may show a certain percentage of acetic acid, but more often than not laboratory product testing has proved otherwise. Apple cider vinegar products labeled “raw” and “organic” are more likely free of genetic modification and contain veritable acetic acid levels.
Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar
While popular opinion includes weight loss and heart health among the health benefits of apple cider vinegar, let’s first discuss the ACV uses with scientific backing.
Apple cider vinegar recipes include vinaigrettes, marinades, salad dressings, and condiments. Brining food with apple cider vinegar for several minutes, hours, or even days is a natural and effective way to tenderize vegetables, chicken, beef, or lamb before cooking.
Dilute the apple cider vinegar brining solution according to the weight of the meat, brining time, and your desired level of tenderization. The apple cider vinegar aroma is quite effective when seasoning gamy proteins with herbs. ACV is the sour twist to a sweet soup or bland stew base. Lightly sprinkle apple cider vinegar dressing over popular dishes, like salad or popcorn, in lieu of salt for zestier flavors and lower sodium content to combat high blood pressure. Apple cider vinegar is a low-calorie food preservative that makes for healthier, heartier dishes.
Fill a spray bottle with an apple cider vinegar dilution for a quick and natural bug repellent. Rub a modest amount of the ACV dilution over your pet’s fur as a nontoxic option to eliminating ticks and fleas. Equal parts water and apple cider vinegar is a safe recipe for your home and pet.
Other Apple Cider Vinegar Uses
Aside from food additive and bug repellent, the effectiveness of other apple cider vinegar uses is debatable. Ingesting apple cider vinegar or topically applying ACV directly to the skin in an attempt to treat serious illnesses can be tricky when considering ACV’s strong acetic acid content and the severity of the illness in question.
The polyphenols that apple cider vinegar inherits from apples are known antioxidants that combat the cell damage that predisposes the body to cancer. A 2004 study published in Biofactors suggests that acetic acid bacteria in vinegar may kill or inhibit cancer cell growth. Similar studies are needed to substantiate apple cider vinegar’s specific capacity to fight cancer.
Dilute 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar in a glass of water and drink before meals to help lower blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity.
Diabetes is a blood sugar level disorder that requires patients to monitor blood sugar levels regularly. Over 150 million people worldwide suffer from this debilitating illness, and this number is expected to double in 12 years. Diabetes can lead to other conditions, like blindness, loss of limbs, or even death.
According to a 2007 study published in BMC Gastroenterology, apple cider vinegar slows the rate at which contents leave the stomach. This phenomenon lowers measured sugar in blood; however, it also makes controlling sugar and insulin levels difficult.
When it comes to apple cider vinegar for weight loss, don’t expect to shed major poundage quickly, but ingesting 1 to 2 ounces of diluted apple cider vinegar daily can help you lose weight over time. As a precaution, pause your regimen every 2 weeks and gauge the effects of ACV on your overall health.
Improved Immunity and Detoxification
The apple cider vinegar “mother” found in unfiltered ACV contains bacteria that allegedly act as probiotics beneficial to gut health. Sustaining good gut flora improves your body’s digestion and absorption of nutrients essential to sustaining overall good health.
Drinking 1 to 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar diluted in water each day restores pH acidity levels in the stomach, which stimulates circulation and a properly functioning lymphatic system that drains the body of cellular waste and toxins. ACV proponents also swear that apple cider vinegar helps a sore throat when used as a gargle mixed with warm water, honey, and a dash of cayenne pepper. You can also enjoy this apple cider vinegar detox juice or this apple cider vinegar smoothie.
Taken internally, apple cider vinegar’s acetic acid is said to possess antibacterial qualities that kill off harmful microbes. A 2017 study published in the journal Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine showed ACV to be effective in killing vaginal candida infection when medical therapies had failed.
Apple cider vinegar proponents promote using ACV to dissolve warts, eradicate foot fungus, and eliminate jock itch through topical use. Many profess to achieve smoother skin, minimized acne scarring, fewer foot and hand calluses, and less or no dandruff with repeated topical use of ACV-infused toners and hair rinses. Even rubbing apple cider vinegar on teeth is suggested to produce whiter teeth, although undiluted apple cider vinegar can wear down tooth enamel and increase your risk of cavities. For this reason, diluting before drinking apple cider vinegar is a must.
Apple Cider Vinegar Side Effects
Apple cider vinegar’s acetic acid is considered a strong acid and you should proceed with caution when testing the validity of ACV’s benefits. Applying the acid directly to your teeth can gradually erode your teeth’s enamel. Overusing or misusing poorly diluted topical apple cider vinegar can burn your skin.
Ingesting apple cider vinegar may interfere with other medications, including heart disease and diabetes medications, pre-existing ailments, or treatment plans. There’s also evidence that it can lower already low potassium levels, so avoid ingesting if your are already on medication that compromises your potassium levels.
Take ACV with food and never on an empty stomach to reduce the risk of injury to the mouth, throat, and kidneys. Consult your physician or pharmacist before beginning an apple cider vinegar regimen, especially if you are pregnant or have a pre-existing condition.