There are many health benefits of apple cider vinegar, also known as ACV, including keeping your blood sugar in check, amping up weight loss, soothing skin issues, and helping keep your gut and your heart healthy. It contains a wide range of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids1 that help this liquid do so many things.
ACV has relatively low acidity compared to other types of vinegar, at around 5% acetic acid. Unlike other kinds of vinegar like red wine and balsamic, apple cider vinegar is made from apple cider that has been fermented with a bacteria that produces health-promoting probiotics and enzymes. The apples themselves have been shown to have very strong antioxidant activity thanks to their quercetin, catechin, phloridzin and chlorogenic acid content. Apples have also been shown to impact cholesterol levels.2
So how can ACV help you with your health? In this article, I’ll cover ACV’s main health benefits, easy ways to add it to your diet (and there are lots of great recipes featuring ACV in my cookbook!), how to select the best type, and how to avoid common ACV pitfalls.
ACV has TONS of benefits as a home remedy, from killing bugs such as fleas to helping soothe a poison ivy rash to preventing infections. It’s one of the best natural cleaning products because of its acidity, anti-stain action, and ability to prevent streaks on windows and mirrors. It’s also been used as a food preservative.
Thanks to its healing properties, Hippocrates, the father of medicine, used vinegar to clean wounds over two thousand years ago. It’s traditionally been pressed into service for treating nail fungus, lice, warts, ear infections, and gut issues. Here’s why it’s so beneficial.
1. Antimicrobial Activity
With so many people suffering from the bloating, brain fog, and discomfort of gut issues such as Candida overgrowth, natural antimicrobials are becoming more popular. Vinegar has antimicrobial effects on bacteria and yeasts such as E. coli, S. aureus, and Candida albicans, and restricts their growth.3 What’s more, ACV has been shown to break down bacterial biofilms, which are glue-like substances that bacteria use to stick to surfaces in your body. In a study on Streptococcus pyogenes and ACV, this vinegar helped eradicate the bacteria’s biofilm.
2. Acid Reflux
Acid reflux can cause heartburn, bloating, burping, nausea, weight loss, the sensation that food is stuck in your throat, and other symptoms.5 In some cases, it’s thought to be caused by low stomach acid levels. Drinking diluted ACV can provide some relief from these symptoms.
3. Blood Sugar and Insulin Sensitivity
There’s growing evidence about apple cider vinegar and diabetes. Blood sugar control is important for diabetics and those with reduced insulin sensitivity, which can lead to higher blood sugar levels. ACV has been shown to help with both of these issues. A small study showed that ACV can increase insulin sensitivity in type 2 diabetes patients and reduce blood sugar and insulin level fluctuations.6
4. Weight Loss
What about apple cider vinegar for weight loss? ACV may be a great ally if you’re interested in reducing body fat and increasing your feeling of satiety.7In a clinical trial, participants who drank 30 ml of ACV daily for 12 weeks and maintained a restricted-calorie diet were slimmer and had a reduced appetite score over those who only reduced their calories.8 A study on 175 people with obesity also showed that ACV consumption resulted in reduced belly fat, as well as weight loss.9
5. Cholesterol Levels and Cardiovascular Benefits
Adding ACV to your diet could help your cardiovascular health. Several studies show that the acetic acid in apple cider vinegar can help with high blood fat levels, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure by supporting your liver, which is responsible for making cholesterol.10,11,12,13,14 It’s also thought that ACV’s ability to lower your blood sugar levels is the key between apple cider vinegar and blood-pressure-lowering benefits.
In a small trial on polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), women with the condition were given 15 grams of ACV for around 100 days. More than half of those women had ovulatory menstruation (menstruation that followed the release of an egg from the ovaries) within just 40 days, suggesting ACV may help restore ovulatory function.15
7. Circulation and Varicose Veins
Varicose veins can be painful and distressing. Simple, natural treatments for varicose veins can help reduce their symptoms. A study on the topical use of ACV showed that it reduced symptoms of varicose veins such as pain, cramps, itching and the visual characteristics of the veins when compared to the control.16
8. Skin Benefits
Looking for natural treatments for acne? ACV’s antibacterial effects can help, on the inside as well as on the outside. ACV can also be used topically. A bacteria called Propionibacterium acnes that contributes to the development of a form of acne dies when exposed to ACV thanks to its acetic, citric, lactic and succinic acid content.17,18 It may also help prevent acne-related scarring.19
Poison ivy rash is the most common allergic reaction in the United States. Around 85 percent of those who touch the plant develop a rash, causing severe itching, redness, blisters, and swelling. ACV is thought to dry up urushiol, the sticky oil that poison ivy secretes, although no study has been completed.
Unpasteurized, unfiltered ACV has more benefits than the pasteurized variety because it contains the web-like “Mother,” or non-liquid mass that appears thanks to beneficial bacteria.
The easiest way to begin using ACV to improve your health is to make a quick salad dressing of 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt, and 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar. Pour it over salad greens or even cooked vegetables. My cookbook, The Autoimmune Solution Cookbook, has more than 120 recipes, many of which feature great ways to incorporate ACV. If you’d prefer to drink it, grab an 8-ounce glass of water and add a tablespoon of ACV to it.
Apple Cider Vinegar Pitfalls to Avoid
There are some side effects of taking too much ACV, so be careful not to:
- Drink more than 2 tablespoons per day, or you may experience nausea
- Damage your tooth enamel. Always drink ACV diluted, and rinse your mouth afterward, or drink it through a straw.
- Burn your skin by applying it undiluted to your skin and not washing it after 10 minutes.
- Combine ACV with medications that lower your potassium levels, such as laxatives, diuretics, Albuterol, and Sudafed.20
ACV is a great-tasting, economical, and healthy ingredient and all-purpose tool you can use for so many things from cleaning your home to symptom relief of ailments from acne to varicose veins to gut issues. Adding ACV to your diet is a great way to boost your health. You’ll be delighted with the flavor and your body will thank you too.