Apple cider vinegar is the foremost type of vinegar in the organic health community.
It is professed to lead to all sorts of benefits, several of which are backed by science.
This list includes weight loss, lower cholesterol, reduces blood sugar levels and improved symptoms of diabetes.
It is also an old folk remedy, and has been used for numerous household and cooking purposes.
Here is Shzboxtoday’s A-list of 6 health benefits of apple cider vinegar that are backed by scientific research.
1. Lowers Blood Sugar Levels and Combats Diabetes
Apple cider vinegar has shown great promise in improving insulin sensitivity and helping lower blood sugar responses after meals.
So far, the most successful application of vinegar to date is in patients with type 2 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes is characterized by high blood sugar levels, either because of insulin resistance or an inability to produce insulin (1).
However, high blood sugar can also be a problem in people who don’t have diabetes. It is believed to be a major cause of aging and various chronic diseases.
Pretty much everyone should benefit from keeping their blood sugar levels in the normal range. The most effective (and healthiest) way to do that is to avoid refined carbs and sugar, but apple cider vinegar can also have a powerful effect.
Vinegar has been shown to have numerous benefits for blood sugar and insulin levels:
- Improves insulin sensitivity during a high-carb meal by 19–34% and significantly lowers blood sugar and insulin responses (2).
- Reduces blood sugar by 34% after eating 50 grams of white bread.
- 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar before bedtime can reduce fasting blood sugar in the morning by 4%.
- Numerous other studies in humans show that vinegar can improve insulin function and lower blood sugar levels after meals.
For these reasons, vinegar can be useful for people with diabetes, pre-diabetes, or those who want to keep their blood sugar levels low for other reasons.
If you’re currently taking blood-sugar-lowering medications, check with your doctor before increasing your intake of any type of vinegar.
2. Lowers Cholesterol and Boosts Heart Health
Several animal studies have shown that vinegar can reduce blood triglycerides, cholesterol and blood pressure. This could lead to a reduced risk of developing heart disease.
Heart disease is currently the world’s No.1 cause of untimely death (3).
It is known that several biological factors are linked to either a decreased or increased risk of heart disease.
Several of these “risk factors” can be improved by vinegar consumption, but many of the studies were done in animals.
These animal studies suggest that apple cider vinegar can lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels, along with several other heart disease risk factors.
The only human evidence so far is an observational study from Harvard showing that women who ate salad dressings with vinegar had a reduced risk of heart disease.
But this type of study can only show an association, it cannot prove that the vinegar caused anything.
As mentioned above, human studies also show that apple cider vinegar can lower blood sugar levels, improve insulin sensitivity and help fight diabetes. These factors should also lead to reduced risk of heart disease.
3. High in Acetic Acid, With Potent Biological Effects
Apple cider vinegar is made by fermenting the sugar from apples. This turns them into acetic acid, which is the active ingredient in vinegar.
Apple cider vinegar is made in a two-step process, related to how alcohol is made (6).
The first step exposes crushed apples (or apple cider) to yeast, which ferment the sugars and turn them into alcohol.
In the second step, bacteria are added to the alcohol solution, which further ferment the alcohol and turn it into acetic acid — the main active compound in vinegar.
In French, the word “vinegar” actually means “sour wine.”
Organic, unfiltered apple cider vinegar also contains “mother,” strands of proteins, enzymes and friendly bacteria that give the product a murky appearance.
Some people believe that the “mother” is responsible for most of the health benefits, although there are currently no studies to support this.
Apple cider vinegar only contains about three calories per tablespoon, which is very low.
There are not many vitamins or minerals in it, but it does contain a small amount of potassium. Quality apple cider vinegar also contains some amino acids and antioxidants.
4. May Have Protective Effects Against Cancer
Some studies in test tubes and rats have shown that vinegar can slow the growth of cancer cells and shrink tumors.
Cancer is a terrible disease characterized by the uncontrolled growth of cells.
There is a lot of hype online about the anti-cancer effects of apple cider vinegar.
In fact, numerous studies have shown that various types of vinegar can kill cancer cells and shrink tumors.
However, all of the studies on this were done in isolated cells in test tubes, or rats, which proves nothing about what happens in a living, breathing human.
That said, some observational studies in humans have shown that vinegar consumption is linked to decreased esophageal cancer in China, but increased bladder cancer in Serbia (7).
It is possible that consuming apple cider vinegar may help prevent cancer, but this needs to be researched more before any recommendations can be made.
5. Aids Weight Loss and Reduces Belly Fat
Surprisingly, studies also show that vinegar can help you lose weight.
Several human studies show that vinegar can increase satiety, help you eat fewer calories and lead to actual pounds lost on the scale.
For example, if people take vinegar along with a high-carb meal, they get increased feelings of fullness and end up eating 200–275 fewer calories for the rest of the day.
A study in 175 people with obesity showed that daily apple cider vinegar consumption led to reduced belly fat and weight loss:
- 15 mL (1 tablespoon): Lost 2.6 pounds, or 1.2 kilograms.
- 30 mL (2 tablespoons): Lost 3.7 pounds, or 1.7 kilograms.
However, keep in mind that this study went on for 3 months, so the true effects on body weight seem to be rather modest.
That said, just adding or subtracting single foods or ingredients rarely has a noticeable effect on weight.
It’s the entire diet/lifestyle that counts and you need to combine several effective methods to see results.
Overall, it seems like apple cider vinegar is useful as a weight loss aid, mainly by promoting satiety and lowering blood sugar and insulin levels.
But it won’t work any miracles on its own.
6. Kills Several Types of Harmful Bacteria
The main substance in vinegar, acetic acid, can kill harmful bacteria or prevent them from multiplying. It has a history of use as a disinfectant and natural preservative.
Vinegar can help kill pathogens, including bacteria (8).
It has traditionally been used for cleaning and disinfecting, treating nail fungus, lice, warts and ear infections.
Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, used vinegar for wound cleaning over two thousand years ago.
If you’re looking for a natural way to preserve your food, then apple cider vinegar could be highly useful.
There have also been anecdotal reports of diluted apple cider vinegar helping with acne when applied to the skin, but I didn’t find any strong research to confirm this.
How to Use
The best way to include apple cider vinegar into your diet is to use it in your cooking — for salad dressings, homemade mayonnaise and that sort of thing.
Some persons also like to dilute it in water and drink it as a beverage. Common dosages range from 1–2 teaspoons (5–10 ml) to 1–2 tablespoons (15–30 ml) per day, mixed in a large glass of water.
It’s best to start with small doses and avoid taking large amounts. Too much vinegar can cause harmful side effects, including tooth enamel erosion and potential drug interactions.
It is advised to use organic, unfiltered apple cider vinegar with the “mother.”
There are a lot of wild claims about apple cider vinegar on the internet.
Some say that it can increase energy levels and have all sorts of beneficial effects on health. At the very least, apple cider vinegar seems to be safe as long as you don’t go overboard and take excessive amounts.
At the end of the day, apple cider vinegar appears to be very healthy.
It’s not a “miracle” or a “cure-all” like some people seem to believe, but it does clearly have some important health benefits, especially for blood sugar and weight control.