Apple cider vinegar is the most popular type of vinegar in the natural health community. It is claimed to lead to all sorts of benefits, many of which are supported by science. This includes weight loss, reduced cholesterol, lower blood sugar levels and improved symptoms of diabetes.
It is also an ancient folk remedy and has been used for various household and cooking purposes. A dilution of ACV is excellent as a hair rinse to balance the hairs' pH levels.
Here are 6 health benefits of apple cider vinegar that are supported by scientific research.
1. High in Acetic Acid, With Potent Biological Effects
Apple cider vinegar is made in a two-step process, related to how alcohol is made. 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.
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. 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.
2. Can Kill Many Types of Harmful Bacteria
Vinegar can help kill pathogens, including bacteria.
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.
Vinegar has also been used as a natural food preservative, and studies show that it inhibits bacteria (like E. coli) from growing in food and spoiling it.
3. Lowers Blood Sugar Levels and Fights Diabetes
By 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. 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. 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.
4. Helps You Lose Weight and Reduces Belly Fat
Several human studies show that vinegar can help you lose weight, 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 over 3 months showed that daily apple cider vinegar consumption led to reduced belly fat and weight loss.
5. Lowers Cholesterol and Improves Heart Health
Heart disease is currently the world's most common cause of premature death.
Scientific studies on animals suggest that apple cider vinegar can lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels, along with several other heart disease risk factors. There are also some studies showing that vinegar reduces blood pressure in rats, which is a major risk factor for heart disease and kidney problems.
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
6. May Have Protective Effects Against Cancer
Cancer is a terrible disease characterized by the uncontrolled growth of cells. 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.
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.
Dosage and How to Use
Dilute it in warm water. Common dosages range from 1–2 teaspoons (5–10 ml) to 1–2 tablespoons (15–30 ml) per day. It’s best to start with small doses and avoid taking large amounts, because too much vinegar can cause harmful side effects. It is recommended to use organic, unfiltered apple cider vinegar with the "mother."
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.
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