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Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is a common kitchen ingredient that is credited with multiple healing properties. This is evident from its long history of use in folk medicine and anecdotal remedies for treating a variety of ailments.
ACV contains probiotics, acetic acid, and gallic acid, which give it antimicrobial properties. It also works as a powerful antioxidant due to its high amounts of catechins. Plus, it contains a wide array of nutrients that can improve your health in different ways.
The production of ACV begins with juicing apples and then adding yeast and bacteria to ferment the juice, transforming its natural sugars into alcohol. More bacteria are then added to the juice and it is fermented again, allowing the alcohol to turn into acetic acid.
Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar
There is limited research regarding the effects of ACV in humans. Traditionally, there has been a long-standing practice of using vinegars to clean or disinfect, whether on surfaces or the human body. It is also used as a food preservative to inhibit bacterial growth.
Most health benefits reported are anecdotal or based on traditional cultural practices in some countries, so it is encouraged that you speak with your health care provider before making any changes.
Here are some ways ACV can make women healthier:
1. Helps control acne
Some people believe that ACV may be beneficial for acne based on the idea that lactic acid works like a chemical peel to superficially improve skin texture. (1) There are also studies showing its ability to kill bacteria, which have been used for foodborne bacteria, but not human skin. (2)
Since vinegars do contain acid, individuals wanting to try to use it topically must be careful to dilute it and spot test it to avoid skin reactions. Some studies have shown it can cause skin irritation and even burns. (3)
The usual recommendation is to dilute ACV in water or other safe liquid in a ratio of 1 part vinegar to 3–4 parts water.
2. Assists with weight loss and cholesterol regulation
A 2018 study found that consumption of about 1.5 tablespoons of ACV combined with a calorie-restricted diet led to a greater reduction in body weight, BMI, triglycerides, and cholesterol when compared with a calorie-restricted diet without the vinegar. It also increased HDL, or the good cholesterol, and reduced appetite. (4)
No research has shown any benefit of weight loss with just the intake of vinegar, so lifestyle adjustments including changes to diet and activity level are likely needed to see any significant changes.
Many studies, including those looking at the effects of ACV on blood pressure and cholesterol, have been conducted in animals, not humans, so more research is needed in these areas.
3. Good for diabetes management
Most of the research on the health benefits of ACV has been on its effects on blood sugar levels.
A recent review found the consumption of vinegar led to reduced glucose levels after meals. (5) In an 8-week study, participants consuming about 1.3 tablespoons of ACV per day had improvements in fasting blood sugar levels and insulin resistance. (6)
Another review found that hemoglobin A1C levels and fasting blood sugar levels improved, but the reviewers cautioned that research thus far has been limited and only included small sample sizes. (7)
4. Useful for managing polycystic ovary syndrome
Insulin resistance is one cause of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Due to ACV’s effects on blood sugar and insulin, some research has investigated possible benefits for women with PCOS.
Research is limited, but one study found 15 g of ACV taken daily for 3–4 months improved insulin resistance and ovulation measured via levels of luteinizing hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone. (8)
Although many websites are touting the benefits of ACV for menopause and premenstrual syndrome (PMS), these claims have not yet been validated through research.
5. Keeps hair shiny and healthy
While there is not enough research to show any benefits of using ACV on hair or scalp, it is a popular practice that some individuals find beneficial.
The reasons it may be useful are that its acidic nature may lower the pH of the hair and scalp and control bacteria. This may help if there has been dryness or itchiness due to either a pH or bacterial imbalance.
How to Use Apple Cider Vinegar
Here are some tips when using ACV to reap its maximum health benefits with minimal side effects:
- Use in cooking: Try to incorporate ACV into cooking, such as dressings, sauces, or marinades.
- Use unfiltered ACV: Unfiltered ACV contains something referred to as the mother. This is what makes it look murky and contains proteins, good bacteria, and enzymes. It is recommended that you use the unfiltered variety so you can obtain the additional benefits of the mother.
- Avoid brushing your teeth for at least 30 minutes: If you are drinking ACV, rinse your mouth with water after consumption, and do not brush your teeth for at least 30 minutes to limit damage to tooth enamel.
- Dilute before using: Whether using vinegar internally or topically, it is essential to dilute it. Start with a small amount and increase it over time. Larger amounts will not increase benefits but could cause harm.
Side Effects of Drinking Apple Cider Vinegar
ACV can delay the time it takes for food to leave the stomach, which helps lower blood sugar levels. However, it can also cause issues if a person has gastroparesis or experiences heartburn after eating. It may also cause nausea, which some people argue is the reason it lowers appetite. (9)
Due to the acid content of ACV, there is also a risk of damage to the enamel coating of the teeth. A case study found that a 15-year-old girl who drank a glass of ACV each day had enamel erosion. (10) Anecdotal reports also argue that the acid could cause some damage to the lining of the throat.
Therefore, it’s important to ensure any type of vinegar is diluted and not taken at full strength or in large doses. If you take medications, be aware of the potential side effects of adding regular ACV and discuss the practice with your health care provider.
Common issues may occur with diabetes medications due to ACV’s effects on blood sugar levels and with heart failure medications and diuretics due to its possible ability to lower potassium levels.
What is the difference between apple cider vinegar and normal vinegar?
All vinegars are produced by fermenting a base to produce acetic acid. Traditional vinegars may use grains, fruit, or sugar cane. Balsamic vinegar, for example, is made from concentrated grape juice. ACV is made from fermented apple juice.
Vinegars are typically used in cooking and cleaning, but some have been used medicinally throughout history in many cultures, such as in Africa and Europe.
What quantity of apple cider vinegar is safe for drinking?
If you want to take ACV, it’s best to start with 1 teaspoon in 1 cup of water. You can work up to 2 tablespoons in 1 cup of water daily.
Is it better to drink apple cider vinegar in the morning or in the evening?
No research has clearly shown any differences in consuming it in the morning or at night. Taking it in the evening may help lower your morning blood sugar levels. For possible effects on blood sugar, cholesterol, or appetite suppression, it can be taken before or with your biggest meal of the day.
Is it safe to drink apple cider vinegar every day?
Most studies have been conducted for 2–3 months, so data on its long-term safety is limited. However, small amounts taken in a diluted form or used in cooking are likely safe for most healthy individuals.
Those who are on medication or have any health conditions should consult their health care provider to discuss their individual situations.
ACV is safe for most people in small amounts. From curing acne, losing weight, and managing PCOS to giving hair a glossy shine, ACV has various benefits. Always, talk to your medical health professional, especially if you have medical conditions or you take any medications, before using ACV.