Revered for its health-promoting properties for centuries, apple cider vinegar is now a staple of many a health enthusiast’s pantry—and for good reason. Here’s everything you need to know about this liquid gold, from its benefits to how to use it every day.
What Is Apple Cider Vinegar, Actually?
Apple cider vinegar is made by fermenting apple cider. Because of this fermentation process, apple cider vinegar is chock-full of strains of beneficial bacteria, enzymes, and acids—including acetic acid, citric acid, lactic acid, and succinic acid—that can improve nearly every aspect of health, ranging from blood sugar to skin and beyond.
There are so many ways to incorporate ACV into your daily routine—but first, let’s highlight its biggest benefits.
The Top 5 Benefits Of Apple Cider Vinegar
Of apple cider vinegar’s many powerful health benefits, these five are perhaps the most impressive.
1. Supports Healthy Weight
When combined with a well-balanced diet and healthy lifestyle, a daily dose of apple cider vinegar can yield major waistline benefits. In fact, one study published in Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry found that participants who took two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar daily lost about four more pounds in 12 weeks than those who didn’t—without making any other changes to their diet or routine.
How does apple cider vinegar work this magic? By supporting satiety and decreasing appetite. According to a Journal of the American Dietetic Association study, consuming ACV alongside a meal decreased total food intake by about 275 calories throughout the rest of the day.
2. Supports Healthy Blood Sugar
High blood sugar can have a slew of negative effects on our health, including changes in weight and energy levels. Fortunately, apple cider vinegar seems to help keep blood sugar stable, helping reduce the risk of these undesirable effects.
ACV works by increasing the body’s sensitivity to insulin, the hormone responsible for transporting sugar from the bloodstream to the tissues, where it can be used for energy. One study showed that consuming vinegar alongside white bread decreased blood sugar levels by over 31 percent compared to a control group.
3. Promotes Heart Health
Heart disease is a major problem around the globe, accounting for an estimated 31.5 percent of deaths worldwide in 2013. Modifying your diet and lifestyle is one of the most effective ways to enhance heart health. Studies show that adding apple cider vinegar to your routine can be a helpful tool in doing so.
Though current research on the topic is mostly limited to animal studies, it shows promise. One study, for example, founds that rats given apple cider vinegar for four weeks experienced a significant reduction in ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol levels.
What’s more, another study showed that acetic acid, the main compound found in vinegar, effectively lowered blood pressure in rats. How? Research suggests that acetic acid decreases levels of renin, a hormone that plays a central role in blood pressure regulation. Stay tuned for more information as this field of study develops.
4. Enhances Skin Health
Not only can apple cider vinegar help transform your health on inside, but it can also enhance your appearance.
When applied topically, certain compounds found in vinegar, like succinic acid, may help the skin fight off blemishes and similar complexion issues.
Plus, a 2010 study in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology found that applying lactic acid, one of apple cider vinegar’s main components, to skin topically for three months significantly improved the texture, pigmentation, and appearance of scars in participants.
5. Supports Proper Digestion
Backflow of stomach acid into the esophagus (causing nausea, heartburn, belching, and regurgitation) is an issue for many people these days.
Although it may sound counterintuitive, low levels of stomach acid typically cause this issue. Having low levels of stomach acid can decrease the muscle tone of the lower esophagus, allowing food to move upwards.
Consuming small amounts of apple cider vinegar each day may help balance stomach acid levels—especially when paired with an acid reflux-friendly diet.
How To Add Apple Cider Vinegar To Your Routine
Before incorporating apple cider vinegar into your daily diet, it’s especially important that you pick the right variety. I always recommend going for raw, unfiltered, organic apple cider vinegar whenever possible. This guarantees your ACV is free of additives, minimally processed, and contains some beneficial bacteria.
Once you’ve got yourself a quality bottle of apple cider vinegar, try to incorporate about two tablespoons a day.
Many people like to drink apple cider vinegar once or twice a day. However, if consumed undiluted, ACV can irritate the lining of the throat and contribute to tooth enamel erosion. (It’s incredibly acidic.) To avoid this, dilute one to two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in an eight-ounce glass water and drink with a straw.
If you don’t want to sip on apple cider vinegar, you can also add it to salad dressings, smoothies, and other recipes.
For topical use, use ACV on its own or combined with your favorite essential oils to tone your skin.
Apple cider vinegar also makes a great addition to DIY household cleaners, hair rinses, and bug sprays! (Check out more practical, everyday uses for ACV here.)
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Dr. Josh Axe, D.N.M., D.C., C.N.S., is a doctor of natural medicine, clinical nutritionist, author, and member of The Vitamin Shoppe’s Wellness Council. Dr. Axe operates one of the world’s largest natural health websites, sharing healthy recipes, herbal remedies, nutrition and fitness advice, and information on essential oils and natural supplements. Dr. Axe founded one of the largest functional medicine clinics in the world, in Nashville, TN, and has served as a physician for many professional athletes.