Apple cider vinegar, commonly known as ACV, is a popular kitchen ingredient used for its acidic taste in salad dressings, sauces, and various recipes. Beyond its culinary uses, some advocate for its versatile health benefits, claiming it can address issues like digestion problems and obesity.
Studies suggest that consuming apple cider vinegar may contribute to weight management, help control diabetes, and support heart health. Additionally, applying it to the skin might assist in reducing the appearance of varicose veins.
However, it’s important to note that the research on the health benefits of apple cider vinegar is somewhat limited. Most studies have focused on animals and isolated cells rather than extensive human trials. While initial findings are promising, it’s crucial to consult with a healthcare professional before using apple cider vinegar to address any health concerns.
So, what exactly is apple cider vinegar?
Apple cider vinegar is made by fermenting apple juice. Initially, crushed apples are combined with yeast, sugar, or another carbohydrate. Over a few days, natural bacteria and yeasts ferment the juice, turning the carbohydrates into alcohol. In a subsequent fermentation process, the alcohol transforms into acetic acid.
When it comes to choosing apple cider vinegar for health purposes, you can find pasteurized or raw varieties in supermarkets, health food stores, and pharmacies. Raw apple cider vinegar is often preferred for its higher content of natural bacteria and yeast.
Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar
Here are the key health benefits associated with apple cider vinegar:
Lowering Blood Sugar
Apple cider vinegar has shown potential in reducing blood sugar levels. A 2021 meta-analysis of nine studies suggested that ACV consumption could be beneficial for adults with diabetes and high blood lipids.
However, it’s crucial to note that ACV is not a cure for diabetes, and it should not replace a healthy lifestyle or medical treatment. Always consult with your doctor before incorporating ACV into your routine, especially if you are on diabetes medications.
Lowering Blood Triglycerides
ACV may contribute to a decrease in serum triglyceride levels, which are a type of fat in the blood. However, it does not have a significant impact on LDL-C (bad cholesterol), total cholesterol, or HDL-C (good cholesterol).
Aiding Weight Loss
Studies on overweight or obese subjects have explored the potential weight management effects of apple cider vinegar. While evidence is not conclusive, some trials suggest that daily consumption of ACV may lead to weight loss, reduced body fat, and lower triglyceride levels.
It’s essential to emphasize that ACV is not a substitute for a healthy diet and regular exercise. Always consult with your healthcare provider before using ACV for weight management.
Short-term studies indicate that vinegar, including apple cider vinegar, may suppress appetite. However, these findings have not been consistently replicated in long-term studies. More research is needed to determine if ACV can safely increase feelings of fullness, result in long-term appetite suppression, and reduce overall calorie intake.
Research has shown that a combination of vinegar and lemon juice can have positive effects on harmful bacteria, making ACV a potential food preservative. Studies highlight ACV’s antimicrobial effects against certain bacterial strains.
However, more research is necessary to understand the specific mechanisms and potential benefits of ACV supplementation.
Potential Blood Pressure Control
Small animal studies in rats suggest that vinegar, including ACV, may help reduce systolic blood pressure, blood triglycerides, and cholesterol. However, there is insufficient data from human studies to confirm these effects.
Further research is needed to determine if ACV can play a role in controlling high blood pressure in humans.
May Lower Risk of Cardiovascular Disease
Apple cider vinegar might play a role in reducing the risk of heart-related issues by helping lower blood cholesterol levels. This includes total cholesterol, LDL (bad cholesterol), and triglycerides, while increasing HDL (good cholesterol).
High blood cholesterol is a significant factor in heart attack, heart disease, and stroke risk. However, more research is needed to fully understand how apple cider vinegar contributes to heart health.
May Reduce Acid Reflux
Despite its seemingly counterintuitive nature, some claim that apple cider vinegar can alleviate symptoms of acid reflux or heartburn.
However, there’s no scientific evidence to support this, and it’s important to note that drinking apple cider vinegar could potentially worsen heartburn by irritating the esophagus.
May Control Varicose Veins
Applying apple cider vinegar externally on varicose veins may improve symptoms like swelling, cramps, and pain. However, the study’s results are inconclusive, and elevating the legs during the application may have influenced the outcomes.
While applying ACV on the legs may not be harmful, be cautious as it can cause skin burn and irritation.
May Whiten Teeth
Apple cider vinegar’s antibacterial and bleaching effects may help reduce plaque and stains on teeth. However, the acidic nature of ACV can erode tooth enamel, posing a risk of serious damage that outweighs the benefits of using it as a teeth whitening agent.
May Treat Dandruff
Lab experiments suggest that apple cider vinegar’s antifungal properties could help reduce dandruff by preventing fungal growth on the scalp, balancing pH, and promoting the shedding of dead skin cells.
May Treat Acne
ACV’s antibacterial properties may kill acne-causing bacteria when applied externally. However, soaking the skin in apple cider vinegar may not improve skin barrier function and can cause irritation in many individuals.
May Boost Energy
Daily intake of 750 mg or more of acetic acid supplements, found in some apple cider vinegar supplements, could offer various health benefits, including stabilized blood glucose levels. This stability may help prevent energy slumps and crashes.
Note that not all apple cider vinegar supplements contain the recommended amount of acetic acid.
May Improve Gut Health
Raw apple cider vinegar contains gut-friendly bacteria and is considered a natural probiotic that may enhance gut health. However, there is currently no strong evidence supporting ACV’s role as a probiotic for digestive health.
May Prevent the Growth of Candida
Candida albicans, a fungus that can lead to yeast infections, may be inhibited by apple cider vinegar’s antifungal properties observed in lab settings.
However, it’s unclear if this effect translates to the human body, and there is currently no specific research endorsing the use of apple cider vinegar for conditions like toenail fungus, oral thrush, or vaginal yeast infections.
May Treat Denture Stomatitis
Due to its antifungal properties against Candida, apple cider vinegar might be considered as a treatment for denture stomatitis, a condition common in denture wearers causing mouth redness, swelling, and pain.
Nevertheless, the acidic nature of ACV raises concerns about its impact on tooth enamel, potentially limiting its use for this health condition.
May Eliminate Head Lice
Some anecdotal reports suggest that apple cider vinegar could help eliminate head lice. However, scientific studies indicate that vinegar is among the less effective home remedies for lice.
May Burn Warts
Apple cider vinegar may be employed to remove warts, similar to salicylic acid. However, caution is crucial when applying ACV directly to the skin, as it has the potential to cause chemical burns.
May Provide Eczema Relief
The slightly acidic nature of healthy skin is believed to be beneficial, but individuals with eczema may lack this natural acidity. Some think that applying apple cider vinegar could restore a balanced pH and offer relief for eczema.
However, a 2019 study found no improvement in skin health among participants with eczema and noted skin irritation. It’s advisable to consult with a dermatologist before using ACV to avoid potential skin burn and irritation.
May Treat Kidney Stones
Claims suggest that apple cider vinegar, containing potassium, could help prevent kidney stone formation. However, there is no scientific evidence supporting ACV’s role in kidney stone prevention.
Furthermore, for individuals with kidney disease, excessive acid accumulation could occur due to impaired kidney function, emphasizing the need for caution when considering ACV. Always consult with a healthcare professional for personalized advice.