Last Updated on September 13, 2020
Yes, it’s pungent and maybe a tad too acidic. Nevertheless, it can offer several potential health benefits. That’s apple cider vinegar (ACV) for you. Used as an ancient folk remedy, apple cider vinegar has long been a popular choice among health enthusiasts.
Those who swear by its efficacy say that ACV can aid in weight loss, bloating, and alleviating symptoms of diabetes, among other chronic diseases. It may also help in treating conditions such as obesity, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and even bacterial infections.
Because of its versatility, people usually ask, what is the composition of apple cider vinegar? What makes it so popular? Also, from home remedies to cooking, why do people use it for many things? Let us find out the answers to these questions and more in this article.
What is Apple Cider Vinegar?
Apple cider vinegar is the raw version of apple juice. It has not been filtered to remove any sediment or pulp. It also has yeast that turns the sugar found in the juice into alcohol. The fermentation process that the product undergoes helps the bacteria transform the alcohol into acetic acid. This acid is the reason for the strong smell and acidic taste of apple cider vinegar.
Now, you may see in other articles mentions of apple cider vinegar with the mother. What does “the mother” pertain to? It is simply unpasteurized, unrefined, and unfiltered apple cider vinegar. The mother is a colony of beneficial bacteria that helps create vinegar through a secondary fermentation process.
What are Its Benefits?
Let’s take an in-depth look at some of ACV’s proven potential health benefits:
Helps in Promoting Weight Loss
While ACV won’t magically melt away your body fat, it can increase feelings of satiety that could help with weight loss.
One study, which entailed the use of three levels of vinegar and white bread, found that supplementing a meal with acetic acid (vinegar) had an effect on metabolic responses. It also discovered that the subjects felt more satiated after consuming apple cider vinegar.
Moreover, researchers also found that the acetic acid in ACV also helped reduce hyperglycemia in laboratory mice with induced diabetes. This proves that the vinegar can also help boost your metabolism.
Another study suggested that taking apple cider vinegar daily may help reduce obesity. This study was conducted over a 12-week period where the subjects’ body weight, BMI, and visceral fat area, among other factors, showed significantly lower levels compared to the placebo group.
Regulates Blood Sugar Levels for Diabetes Management
In a clinical trial, the results suggested that consuming ACV may have positive effects on glycemic indices and oxidative stress in patients with type 2 diabetes and dyslipidemia. Another study confirmed apple cider vinegar’s beneficial effect in reducing postprandial glycemia (PPG). Higher PPG may lead to lower glycemic control, which is problematic for those already diagnosed with diabetes.
In addition, the results from a study published in Diabetes Care showed that taking vinegar at bedtime may have a positive effect in moderating waking glucose levels in patients diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
Another study supported apple cider vinegar’s positive effects in reducing postprandial glucose and insulin levels. The same study concluded that it may be used to help improve glycemic control.
Helps Manage Cholesterol Levels and Promotes Better Heart Health
A review published in Medscape General Medicine showed that apple cider vinegar may also have antihypertensive effects. The acetic acid in the vinegar proved to be effective in reducing blood pressure and renin activity in rats.
In another study published in the American Journal of Nutrition, it was discovered that those who consumed oil and vinegar based salad dressings—which also provide polyunsaturated fats—regularly had a lower risk for fatal ischemic heart disease, owing to their higher intake of α-linolenic acid.
Eliminates Harmful Bacteria
Aside from its other benefits, ACV also has antibacterial properties. A study observed the effect of ACV against E.coli, Staphylococcus aureus, and Candida albicans. The results of the study suggested that ACV has multiple antimicrobial properties, which may have potential clinical therapeutic implications.
Another study showed ACV’s antimicrobial efficacy against E. faecalis and C. albicans, stating that it is as effective as using 5% sodium hypochlorite.
Contains Antioxidant Properties
In one laboratory test, ACV exhibited antioxidant properties through modulating oxidative stress in the animal subjects’ serum lipid profile. Additionally, ACV induced a protective effect from oxidative injury on the subjects’ red blood cells, kidneys, and liver. The study further suggested that ACV may be able to increase the existing levels of antioxidants and vitamins in the body.
A report also showed ACV’s potential to suppress the toxicity of nicotine. This discovery opens the possibility of using apple cider vinegar as a protection against carcinogenesis brought about by nicotine. Nicotine has been linked to lung cancer and an increased risk of carcinoma and liver cirrhosis.
Possesses Antifungal Properties
Fungal infections are a common issue that affect millions of people worldwide. Individuals with type 2 diabetes are more susceptible to experiencing these infections.
Fungal infections usually occur in the mouth, throat, and vagina. One of the most common causes of fungal infections is Candida albicans. Several researches suggest that ACV may be potentially useful as an antifungal treatment.
In one case report, a woman with chronic vaginal candida infection responded well to the application of ACV in the affected area. Another case report showed the use of ACV in treating a fungal infection in the mouth of an individual diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
How Do You Make It a Part of Your Beauty Regimen?
While commonly used as an ingredient in salad dressings, ACV can also double as your skin and hair care buddy. It can be used to:
- Soothe and exfoliate your skin
- Eliminate dandruff
- Fight acne
- Substitute your regular toner
- Provide relief from sunburn
However, it is crucial that you dilute ACV first before using it as part of your skin and hair care regimen, so as to prevent burning and irritation. You can start by diluting one tablespoon of ACV for every two cups of water.
How to Use ACV Safely
With its many potential health and skincare benefits, you might think that ACV is the perfect cure-all. However, it is important to note that consuming too much of it may manifest in unwanted side effects. Taking it undiluted and in large quantities may lead to tooth decay, low potassium levels, burns, and gastrointestinal issues such as indigestion and even acid reflux.
Here are some tips to help you use apple cider vinegar safely:
- Make sure to use just the right amount of ACV
- Never forget to dilute ACV—putting 1 to 2 tablespoons to your water or tea is enough
- Reduce the amount and duration that the vinegar is on your skin to avoid occurrences of burns
- Minimize contact with your teeth by drinking diluted ACV through a straw
While there is still a need to further study the side effects of ACV, the best approach as of now is to use ACV in moderation. If you have an existing condition and are taking medications for it, talk to your healthcare provider first before opting to use ACV.