A Complete Overview of Apple Cider Vinegar Benefits

by Sukhsatej Batra, Ph. D February 26, 2021

Apple cider vinegar is a versatile ingredient that is handy to have around the home because of its many uses. People all around the world have used apple cider vinegar for thousands of years not only as a cooking, cleaning and beauty product, but also as a home remedy for several health conditions because of its health benefits. Here you will find information on how apple cider vinegar is made, its uses and learn about apple cider vinegar benefits.

What is Apple Cider Vinegar?

Apple cider vinegar, or ACV, as it is often called, is an amber colored vinegar made by crushing apples for apple juice and then fermenting the extracted apple juice in a two-step biotechnology process.

In the first step, the sugar in apple juice is converted to alcohol through a process called alcoholic fermentation brought about by the addition of yeast. In the second step and final step of the process, acetic acid bacteria is added to the fermented juice, which convert the alcohol to acetic acid. Acetic acid is the main component of apple cider vinegar that imparts the sour taste and strong flavor typically associated with apple cider vinegar. (1) Some of the health benefits associated with ACV are also due to its acetic acid content.

Choosing Apple Cider Vinegar

If you are in the market for buying ACV for its health benefits, you should know that not all apple cider vinegars are the same. When shopping for ACV the key thing to look for is a label saying it is raw, unfiltered and unpasteurized. You can easily spot unprocessed ACV just by looking - it will be hazy or cloudy and murky looking, with long, stringy-like strands called "mother" floating in it. The mother indicates the presence of gut-friendly bacteria, enzymes and yeast in the vinegar. In contrast, a bottle of pasteurized, filtered ACV will be clear and transparent, because it does not contain mother of vinegar.

Active components in ACV

Apple cider vinegar contains several bioactive compounds that provide health benefits for several conditions.

Apart from the mother, ACV contains other organic acids in addition to acetic acid such as lactic acid, formic acid, malic acid, succinic acid and citric acid. ACV also has several bioactive phenolic compounds such as gallic acid, catechin, epicatechin, caffeic acid and chlorogenic acid that have antioxidant properties that contribute to the health benefits of apple cider vinegar. Antioxidants protect body cells against oxidative stress and may reduce incidence of diseases such as cancer, accelerated aging and brain degenerative disorders by neutralizing unstable free radicals. (1,2)

How Effective is Apple Cider Vinegar?

You’ve heard from a friend or read a blog article that drinking apple cider vinegar could help you lose weight. Or maybe you’ve heard that as little as 2 tablespoons of ACV may be a powerful and natural way to reduce blood sugar levels. But how safe and how effective is apple cider vinegar? Should you incorporate apple cider vinegar for weight loss or for other ACV health benefits into your diet? Read on here.

The Health Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar

May support weight loss and improve lipid profile

According to some studies, apple cider vinegar may help in weight loss. The effects of apple cider vinegar for weight loss are a loss in appetite. Drinking ACV may increase the feeling of fullness or satiety when taken with a high carbohydrate meal, leading to decreased appetite and consumption of fewer calories in one study. The combined effects may cause a person to lose weight. (3)

A 12-week study on obese subjects given a 500 ml beverage containing 15 or 30 ml of apple cider vinegar resulted in lower body weight, BMI, visceral fat area, waist circumference, and serum triglyceride levels than in the placebo group. These results show that drinking ACV may be beneficial in helping weight loss. (4)

In another study, reduced cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein, and triglyceride levels in addition to reduced body fat, BMI, hip circumference, and appetite scored were found in subjects who consumed apple cider vinegar along with a calorie restricted diet for 12 weeks. (5) Although these results are promising, clinical trials and more research are needed.

May lower blood glucose levels

The incidence of type 1 diabetes mellitus and and type 2 diabetes is a worldwide public health problem. It also affects a large population in the United States, where incidence is also increasing. There is a lot of interest in finding foods that can help people with type 2 diabetes manage their condition. The effect of ACV for lowering blood sugar levels was first published in 1988. Since then several studies have found that apple cider vinegar reduces blood sugar levels after eating food in people with diabetes or insulin resistance.

In one study, researchers found that drinking therapeutic amounts of  ACV lowered blood glucose levels after eating a meal of high carbohydrate foods. Apple cider vinegar also improved insulin response in people with type 2 diabetes who were insulin-resistant.(6)

In another study, type 2 diabetes patients who took ACV before going to bed woke up with lower fasting blood sugar levels. These effects may be because of the acetic acid content in apple cider vinegar. (7)

Has antimicrobial properties

The use of vinegar as an antimicrobial agent to treat sores, fight off infection, cleaning and disinfecting wounds has been recognized for thousands of years. Apple cider vinegar with honey was prescribed by Hippocrates to treat various diseases and used to disinfect wounds of soldiers in the American Civil War. (8)

Recent research also points to the antimicrobial properties of ACV against harmful bacteria Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus (staph), and yeast, Candida albicans growing in a petri dish. While these results were observed in the lab, the potential of ACV as an antimicrobial agent needs more research, according to the authors of the study. (9)

May help with eczema and psoriasis

Normal pH of the skin is slightly acidic but, people with eczema have a higher than normal pH skin levels, according to the National Eczema Association. The higher pH increases moisture loss, causes dryness and decreases protection against harmful bacteria such as staph. The National Eczema Association suggests that ACV may help those with eczema lower their elevated pH skin levels because it is acidic in nature. 

The best way of using apple cider vinegar to help restore pH balance for people with eczema to soak in a bath of diluted ACV. Alternately, they may apply a wet wrap soaked with diluted ACV to balance their skin pH levels. (10)

According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, diluted apple cider vinegar may help ease the scalp itch associated with psoriasis. They recommend rinsing off the ACV to prevent irritation and not using on cracked skin and open wounds, and of course, consulting your healthcare provider before using ACV. (11)

While apple cider vinegar may provide some benefit when used for some health conditions mentioned above, extreme caution should be used when applying apple cider vinegar topically, as ACV is very acidic and can cause severe chemical burns if applied undiluted to the skin. (12, 13) 

May be used as a beauty product

Apart from the health benefits of apple cider vinegar and its use as a home remedy, there is a lot of information on the use of apple cider vinegar as a beauty product for hair and skin all over the internet.

According to a patent filed in the United States Patent Office, apple cider vinegar has several benefits for healthy looking hair. Briefly, the patent claims that apple cider vinegar as a hair rinse removes buildup, detangles, adds shine and restores natural pH of your hair. (14)

Apple cider vinegar dosage

To avail the health and wellness benefits of apple cider vinegar it is best to incorporate it into a healthy diet. Use apple cider vinegar when cooking to add flavor to your salad dressing, marinades, food, soups and sauces. Apple cider vinegar can also be used as a food preservative as it prevents food from spoiling by preventing growth of harmful bacteria.

Apple cider vinegar is very acidic and drinking it straight of the bottle is not recommended as it can damage your tooth enamel, which may in turn increase risk of tooth decay. Tissues of the mouth and throat can also be damaged by drinking apple cider vinegar that has not been diluted.

To avoid these effects of apple cider vinegar, it is best to dilute 1 to 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in a large glass of water before drinking. Another way of including ACV in your diet is to make apple cider vinegar drinks by adding ACV to your favorite drink or juice to add an extra zing. 

If you want to use apple cider vinegar for weight loss, research suggests drinking  a diluted ACV drink before eating your meal. Rinsing your mouth with water after drinking ACV is one way that may help decrease risk of damaging tooth enamel and reduce irritation of the throat. For more details on when to consume apple cider vinegar, check here.

While there is scientific evidence that apple cider vinegar intake has health benefits such as lowering high blood pressure, reducing blood sugar levels, serum triglyceride levels, helping lose body weight and other conditions, it is best to consult your healthcare provider before using apple cider vinegar. This is especially important if you are taking any medication for any health conditions such as type 2 diabetes, as apple cider vinegar it may interact with them.

Apple Cider Vinegar Recipes

If you’re ready to start cashing in on the amazing health benefits of apple cider vinegar, then you can simply take 1 to 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar as referenced above. However, if you’re wanting to go “next level” with ACV, then you may want to check out our apple cider vinegar recipes. You’ll find apple cider vinegar detox drink recipes, fasting recipes, apple cider vinegar dressing recipes, and other amazing recipes on how you can incorporate apple cider vinegar into your healthy diet.

Apple Cider Vinegar Supplements

If drinking apple cider vinegar or including it in your diet, you may consider taking ACV supplements, Apple cider vinegar supplements in the form of apple cider vinegar capsules are made by dehydrating apple cider vinegar may be an option to drinking apple cider vinegar. But not all apple cider vinegar is created equal. Some apple cider vinegar supplements are just ascorbic acid. Here’s how to tell if you’re getting the real deal. 

References :

  1. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/1750-3841.12434
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25648676/
  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16015276/
  4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19661687/
  5. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1756464618300483
  6. https://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/27/1/281.long
  7. https://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/30/11/2814.full
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4735895/
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5788933/
  10. https://nationaleczema.org/get-the-facts-acv/
  11. https://www.psoriasis.org/integrative-approaches-to-care/
  12. https://www.jaad.org/article/S0190-9622(11)02243-2/abstract
  13. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4479370/
  14. https://patentimages.storage.googleapis.com/f4/e0/d9/5b916f53bf8bb1/US9693948.pdf
Sukhsatej Batra, Ph. D
Sukhsatej Batra, Ph. D

Sukhsatej Batra has a Ph. D in Foods and Nutrition with a passion for motivating people to improve their well-being and achieve results through healthy lifestyle changes. Previously, Sukhsatej has worked as a Senior Research and Development Scientist and college professor.