Apple cider vinegar (also called ACV) is a fermented product made from apples and yeast. Pale to a medium yellowish-orange colour, this vinegar has a peculiar taste and odour that makes it a popular kitchen ingredient. ACV is used as an ingredient in preparations like chutneys, marinades, salad dressings, and food preservatives.

Not just food, apple cider vinegar is also immensely popular among health-conscious people as one of the go-to remedies for health issues including high blood pressure, overweight and acid reflux.

Did you know?

An ancient nomadic tribe called the Aryans made a sour wine from apples, which is considered to be a precursor for ACV. From the Aryans, the cider passed on to the Greeks and Romans. It is believed that Japanese Samurai warriors drank apple cider vinegar for enhanced strength and endurance.

  1. ACV with mother
  2. Apple cider vinegar nutrition facts
  3. Apple cider vinegar health benefits
  4. Apple cider vinegar side effects
  5. Takeaway

Vinegar is derived from the French word vin aigre which means “sour wine”. A two-step process is used to make apple cider vinegar. Firstly, the crushed apples are exposed to yeast which ferments the sugars into alcohol. Then, bacteria is added to the alcohol solution to further ferment it to form acetic acid. Acetic acid is responsible for the tart flavour and pungent odour of the vinegar. 

Most of the apple cider vinegar available in the market is filtered and pasteurized to give it a clear appearance and to kill all the bacteria, to give it long shelf life. But a lot of people don't call it the real apple cider vinegar. Instead, ACV with mother is said to be the authentic one. In unrefined vinegar or varieties of vinegar with the mother (original bacterial culture used to make vinegar), you can actually see the mother culture at the bottom of the bottle in which it is stored. This type of ACV will have a murky appearance in contrast to the clear liquid in a pasteurised bottle of ACV. Unpasteurised ACV with mother is known as organic and with more health benefits than the pasteurised version. However, scientists are still to find strong proof in favour of this argument.

Apple cider vinegar is low in calories. It does not contain any fat, carbohydrates, protein or fiber. It is also rich in minerals such as phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, and potassium. Hence, this vinegar is a great way to add a burst of flavour to your food that does not increase your calorie intake too much.

As per the USDA Nutrient Database, 100 g of apple cider vinegar contains the following values:

Nutrients Value per 100 g
Water 93.81 g
Energy 21 kcal
Ash 0.17 g
Carbohydrate 0.93 g
Sugars 0.4 g
Glucose 0.1 g
Fructose 0.3 g
Minerals  
Calcium 7 mg
Iron 0.2 mg
Magnesium 5 mg
Phosphorus 8 mg
Potassium 73 mg
Sodium 5 mg
Zinc 0.04 mg
Copper 0.008 mg
Manganese 0.249 mg

ACV has several benefits for health that range from promotion of weight loss and reducing bad breath and helping regulate blood sugar levels. Let us have a look at some of the science-backed health benefits of this vinegar in detail.

  • For weight loss: One of the most widely known uses of apple cider vinegar is its assistance in weight loss process. It suppresses fat accumulation and lowers visceral fat content, which is helpful in the management of obesity.
  • For diabetes: Another significant use of apple cider vinegar is that it helps to regulate blood sugar levels when taken after a meal.
  • For bad breath: Apple cider vinegar helps to control bad breath as it modifies the pH of the oral cavity, which is non-conducive to the growth of bacteria.
  • For skin and hair: Apple cider vinegar reduces acne or pimples by controlling the growth of P. acnes, which is the causative organism. The use of this on the hair promotes lustre and shine of hair while preventing scalp itching, dandruff, dry scalp and managing head lice.
  • Other benefits: The use of apple cider vinegar aids the process of digestion and it also has an activity against several microorganisms, which helps to reduce the incidence of ear infections and nail infections. Further, it helps to improve the absorption of minerals by your body.
  • For cancer: Apple cider vinegar can help in reducing the size of tumours and has a potential against gastric cancer.
  • For heart: Apple cider vinegar reduces blood cholesterol levels and may facilitate the prevention of cardiovascular disorders.

Apple cider vinegar antimicrobial properties

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria are rapidly becoming a major worldwide problem. There has been a steady increase in the number of pathogens that show multiple drug resistance.

(Read more: What is antibiotic resistance)

Vinegar may help to kill such pathogens and harmful bacteria. It has been in use for a long time for cleaning, preserving and disinfecting. Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine is known to have used apple cider vinegar along with honey to clean open wounds and dress them to prevent further infection. A study done in the UK concluded that apple cider vinegar can suppress the growth of several bacteria including E.coli, S. aureus and C. albicans, which cause infections in humans.

Similar observations were made in a recent study, where the scientists noted the potent antimicrobial effects of apple cider vinegar on MRSA (methicillin-resistant S. aureus) and a drug-resistant variety of E. coli.  

According to a study published in Natural Product Research,  ACV is a strong antibacterial even at 25% concentration. However, the activity against fungi like Candida, may not be as potent. Also, the vinegar is highly cytotoxic (toxic to living cells) The study authors pointed that more research is still needed to weigh the benefits and side effects of regular ACV usage. 

(Read more: Infectious diseases symptoms)

Apple cider vinegar for diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is a condition characterised by abnormally high blood sugar levels. Diabetics often look for remedies and ways to keep their blood sugar in check. 

The most effective way to regulate blood sugar would be to avoid refined carbohydrates and sugar, but apple cider vinegar can also have a very powerful effect to keep the blood sugar levels under check.

A research study showed that having vinegar post-lunch or dinner has significant effects in reducing blood sugar levels. Further studies also proved that having vinegar at bedtime decreases fasting glucose levels by 4% in diabetic people.

In a study done in Iran, about 70 people with diabetes type 2 were either given a placebo or 20 mL ACV per day for a period of 8 weeks. The researchers found a reduction in fasting blood glucose levels in all patients who took ACV. 

However, overconsumption may lead to side effects. So, if you are a diabetic, it is best to consult your doctor before adding ACV to your daily routine.

(Read more: Diabetes diet)

Apple cider vinegar for weight loss

Daily intake of vinegar might be useful in the prevention of obesity and reduction of body fat.

Acetic acid (AcOH), the main component of apple cider vinegar, was recently found to suppress fat accumulation in the body. A research was conducted to analyse the effects of vinegar intake on the reduction of body fat in obese Japanese people. It was inferred that body weight, BMI, waist circumference, visceral fat area, and serum triglyceride levels were significantly lower in people who consumed apple cider vinegar.

More clinical studies had similar results with regular use of apple cider vinegar with or without a calorie-restricted diet.

Apple cider vinegar is said to be helpful in suppressing appetite, which leads to weight loss. However, a study reported that ACV may not be tolerated well as an appetite suppressor because of the amount of nausea it causes.

(Read more: 7 common weight loss mistakes)

However, despite the research researchers say that ACV might not be a good way to lose weight in the long term, especially since the right dosage and timing for consumption is not well known.

(Read more: Diet chart for weight loss)

Apple cider vinegar anticancer properties

Cancer is a disease characterized by an uncontrolled growth of body cells.

Various studies show that vinegar possesses anticancer properties and can kill cancer cells and shrink tumours. It is also indicated that topical application of acetic acid may be a possible approach for the treatments of gastric cancer and possibly other cancers. However, all the studies and researches conducted so far have been in laboratory-based or animal models.

One study even indicated that the acidic pH of ACV may make certain cancer cells more invasive.

Due to the absence of clinical studies, it is hard to confirm the anticancer efficiency of apple cider vinegar in humans.

(Read more: Difference between tumour and cancer)

Apple cider vinegar for bad breath

Bacteria don't grow in acidic conditions, so a vinegar mouthwash may help reduce the growth of bacteria in the oral cavity. Acidity is measured in pH. Environments with pH values below 7.0 are considered to be acidic, whereas those with pH values above 7.0 are known to be basic. Bacteria are generally neutrophiles, which means they grow best at a neutral pH level close to 7.0. Since vinegar is acidic in nature, it creates an unsuitable environment for the bacteria to grow. This may help reduce or get rid of bad breath.

Though there isn't any study to show the effects of ACV on bad breath, this vinegar is shown to have potent antimicrobial properties, which may be helpful in reducing oral bacterial load. Also, a study indicated that rinsing the mouth with vinegar for about 5 seconds may help reduce the bacterial load from teeth. This may in turn aid in getting rid of bad breath.

Add 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to 1 cup of water to make a vinegar mouthwash at home.

(Read more: How to get rid of bad breath)

Apple cider vinegar for heart health

Most premature deaths in the world are caused due to heart diseases. Numerous biological factors like obesity, lifestyle, and diet are generally linked to these heart diseases. An animal-based study demonstrated that dietary acetic acid reduces serum concentrations of total cholesterol and triacylglycerols in a cholesterol-rich diet. 

High cholesterol is a known risk factor for heart disease. Accumulation of fats in blood vessels leads to a condition called atherosclerosis. The latter, if not treated on time, can lead to heart attack and stroke.

(Read more: Foods to reduce and control high cholesterol)

Furthermore, ACV is suggested to possess antioxidant properties, which may be beneficial in reducing the risk of metabolic problems such as obesity and high blood pressure - two more risk factors for cardiovascular diseases. 

Studies also show that apple cider vinegar can lower blood sugar levels, improve insulin sensitivity and help fight diabetes. These factors also lead to a reduced risk of heart diseases.

But these studies only show an association and are not proof enough. 

(Read more: Best cardio exercises for heart health)

Apple cider vinegar for acne

Vinegar is traditionally used as a home remedy for acne. However, currently there is no evidence to prove this claim. ACV does have antimicrobial properties and succicnic acid present in it has been shown to inhibit the growth of the acne causing bacteria Propionibacterium acnes (P. acnes). Succinic acid has also been shown to be helpful in reducing the redness and swelling associated with acne and in reducing acne scarring. 

However, it is also indicated that direct topical application of ACV may lead to skin burns.

So, it is best to check in with your doctor before using ACV for acne.

(Read more: Home remedies for acne)

Apple cider vinegar for hair

There has not been enough research to prove that apple cider vinegar is good for hair. A study on the pH levels of various shampoos' has proved that highly alkaline shampoos can cause hair friction, dryness, and breakage resulting in damage to the hair follicles. The study argued that most shampoos tend to be alkaline. Apple cider vinegar, on the other hand, is acidic and may not cause damage to hair. It is said to be helpful in providing shine, smoothness, and strength to the hair by increasing the acidity and lowering the pH level of scalp and hair.

Apple cider vinegar also possesses antimicrobial properties. It can help keep the scalp free from bacteria and fungus, thereby preventing itching. Again, there is not enough research to prove that apple cider vinegar can prevent dandruff or dry scalp.

(Read more: Home remedies for thicker hair)

Apple cider vinegar for digestion

In its raw form, apple cider vinegar is said to be an excellent digestive tonic. The main ingredient in apple cider vinegar is acetic acid which enables the first step of digestion to work effectively. Stirring up those digestive juices helps with the rest of the digestive processes. However, there is no evidence to prove the benefits of ACV for digestion. 

On the contrary, ACV consumption is shown to increase the time food takes to empty out of the gut, which may lead to gas and bloating.

(Read more: How to improve digestion) 

The following are some of the side effects of apple cider vinegar that you should know:

  • Whether apple cider vinegar is consumed in the tablet form or the liquid form, its overuse can damage or corrode the oesophagus, tooth enamel and stomach lining due to its high acidic content. Besides giving a yellowish tinge to the teeth, apple cider vinegar can increase tooth sensitivity as well. Moreover, direct application of undiluted apple cider vinegar on the skin can cause rashes, irritation and a burning sensation.
  • Studies show that the high acetic acid content of apple cider vinegar causes low potassium levels in your blood. This condition is called hypokalemia. This situation may cause ailments such as weakness, cramps, nausea, cramps, frequent urination, low blood pressure, changes in heart rhythm and paralysis.
  • Apple cider vinegar can easily react with some drugs such as laxatives (relieves constipation), diuretics (expels extra water and salts from the body), and insulin because of its acidic nature. Since apple cider vinegar has a direct effect on the insulin levels and blood sugar, it may prove to be highly hazardous when taken with blood pressure and diabetes medications. 
  • Excessive use of apple cider vinegar can lower the mineral bone density making the bones brittle. Hence, people suffering from osteoporosis should never go overboard with apple cider vinegar.
  • Due to the high level of acetic acid present in apple cider vinegar, overuse can lead to face swelling, difficulty in breathing, pain in the throat and soreness.

Consuming apple cider vinegar regularly can help keep diseases at bay. But no food is perfect and too much of anything has side effects. Drinking apple cider vinegar directly is harmful because its acid content can damage your oesophagus and the vinegar itself can react with various medications. So it is best to consume apple cider vinegar in moderation to reap its full health building potential.

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