The Surprising Health Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar
Medically Reviewed by Carolin Schneider, MD
The use of apple cider vinegar as a home remedy dates back centuries. Over time, it has been used as a cooking ingredient, a cleansing agent, a disinfectant and an ancient remedy for curing a wide variety of ailments. In recent years, apple cider vinegar has become recognized by many people as a powerful health tonic. But how does it really impact your health? The answer may surprise you.
What Is Apple Cider Vinegar?
Apple cider vinegar consists of vitamins, mineral salts and amino acids. The main ingredient of apple cider vinegar, acetic acid, is responsible for vinegar's bitter taste and strong odor. To make this type of vinegar, apples are pulverized and then left to ferment. During fermentation, bacteria and yeast enzymes break down the sugar in the apples to create alcohol. Vinegar is created when the alcohol continues to ferment.
There are two basic kinds of apple cider vinegar: commercially produced vinegar that's found in the cooking aisle of supermarkets, and natural, raw and sometimes organic vinegar that's found in health food stores. In terms of health benefits, you'll want to use the raw, natural variety to achieve the best effects.
Apple Cider Vinegar as an Immune System Booster
There are many ways in which apple cider vinegar may be responsible for a boost in immune system health. Full of vitamins and minerals, apple cider vinegar helps provide vital nutrients that your body may be missing. Raw apple cider vinegar contains anti-fungal, anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties that can work as immune protectors against a wide variety of germs. In addition, apple cider vinegar may help balance pH levels in your body and maintain your body's natural alkaline state, in which it's better equipped to stave off colds and other viruses.
Apple Cider Vinegar to Improve Metabolism and Weight Loss
Apple cider vinegar as a weight-loss supplement is nothing new. Weight loss is one of the most common reasons people turn to apple cider vinegar, and for years, people have relied on its health benefits to help trim their waistlines. The acetic acid in the vinegar reacts with foods that are eaten in a way that may help to boost iron absorption. When iron is absorbed at a high rate, oxygen is utilized rather quickly, and the result is a higher metabolic rate. A higher metabolic rate leads to increased weight loss as a result of more calories being burned.
Although apple cider vinegar has thousands of supporters who swear by the weight-loss benefits, there are no scientific studies that prove these claims to be true. Some research over the years has suggested that apple cider vinegar may have a possible weight-loss link, although more studies need to be conducted.
Apple Cider Vinegar to Improve Digestion
It's the combination of acids and minerals found in apple cider vinegar that's associated with improved digestion. Though the exact reason is unknown, one popular theory suggests that the acids and minerals together help prevent bacteria from developing and breeding in the digestive tract. Bacteria in the digestive tract are a cause of slowed digestion and digestive illnesses. When the minerals in apple cider vinegar form a bond with the acids, they may become neutralized, which balances out the digestive tract.
Apple Cider Vinegar to Remove Toxins
Next to weight loss, detoxification is one of the most popular reasons why people turn to raw apple cider vinegar. For years, people have relied on apple cider vinegar and its cleansing properties to remove toxins and impurities from their bodies. To date, no scientific studies have been able to prove those cleansing properties. Still, many people believe that apple cider vinegar may assist with detoxification by aiding circulation and may boost the liver's ability to purge toxins.
Once again, it's the acids found in apple cider vinegar that are believed to be responsible for the cleansing effects. The acids may help to eliminate impurities by binding to free radicals and other toxins that are stored in the blood, fat cells and organs and pulling them out of the body. However, it's certain that apple cider vinegar supplies people's bodies with a large number of vitamins, minerals and enzymes, all of which are essential to a body that's purging out toxins.
Apple Cider Vinegar for Skin Benefits
Apple cider vinegar is touted as a natural remedy for a wide variety of skin conditions. From removing warts and freckles to treating acne and soothing the pain of sunburn, its use as a topical treatment is widespread. While supporters insist on apple cider vinegar's ability to improve skin health, there are only a few scientific studies that support this popular theory. The few that have been conducted suggest that although apple cider vinegar may help with conditions such as shrinking warts, treating lice and dandruff, and eliminating acne, it won't help as quickly or as effectively as traditional medications. Therefore, relying only on apple cider vinegar as a treatment isn't recommended.
Apple Cider Vinegar to Control Blood Sugar
Current studies aim to analyze whether apple cider vinegar may treat diabetes and lower blood sugar. The underlying reason for apple cider vinegar's effect on glucose is not yet understood. It's important to note that individuals living with diabetes should never start an apple cider vinegar regimen without a doctor's supervision. Any use of apple cider vinegar in diabetics should be closely monitored by a healthcare practitioner.
Apple Cider Vinegar for Lower Blood Pressure and Improved Heart Health
Natural health enthusiasts claim that apple cider vinegar can have a positive effect on elevated cholesterol levels and high blood pressure. Not many studies have been performed on the effects apple cider vinegar may have on high cholesterol. The few that have been performed suggest that the vinegar may help lower cholesterol, but more research needs to be conducted. The same thing goes for apple cider vinegar and blood pressure. If there is, in fact, a correlation between apple cider vinegar and decreases in blood pressure and cholesterol — two of the major factors in heart disease — then future research should aim to unravel the relationship between taking apple cider vinegar daily and improvement of overall heart health.