Apples are known to provide many health benefits. One of its derived products, apple cider vinegar (ACV), has grown in popularity as a health remedy to treat a number of conditions and ailments including weight loss.
So, does ACV live up to the hype of health and weight-loss claims? BistroMD has the in-cider scoop on the details of apple cider health benefits and if ACV truly does help with weight loss.
7 Health Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar
ACV is associated with many health benefits, some valid and some may be a stretch. Here is a closer look at the health benefits of ACV that have research supporting these claims.
1. Apple Cider Vinegar for Weight Loss
One of the most common and hopeful apple cider vinegar uses relates to weight loss. And while ACV may not be the magic elixir to lose weight, some research suggests it may play a role.
A 2018 study found when following a low-calorie diet (250 calorie deficit) along with taking 30 mL of ACV for 12 weeks, participants had significantly lowered body weight, BMI, hip circumference, and appetite score compared to the group who just followed a lower calorie diet.
So, how does apple cider vinegar help with weight loss? ACV contains acetic acid, a component believed to prevent body fat accumulation, subsequently combatting weight gain, and is helpful for weight loss.
However, only consuming apple cider vinegar daily, without other healthy lifestyle shifts, is not a magic bullet for quick weight loss.
2. Apple Cider Impacts Blood Sugar
Alongside weight loss, diabetes management is another widely explored and researched health benefit of apple cider vinegar. Its acetic acid can be effective in blocking starch, successively reducing blood sugar levels in individuals who manage type 2 diabetes, are prediabetic, and are even considered to be healthy.
Furthermore, consuming the vinegar before meals and at bedtime has shown to lower post-meal and fasting glucose levels, according to a 2018 post from Diabetes Self-Management.
If you have diabetes or are on medication to regulate blood sugar, speak with your doctor before increasing ACV or taking an ACV supplement. Apple cider vinegar may cause interactions with blood sugar medications and may impact the release of carbohydrates into the blood after digestion which may be problematic for those taking insulin.
3. Apple Cider Vinegar May Protect from Heart Disease
Apple cider vinegar may also support heart health, as animal studies have shown its use can lower LDL (or bad) cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Additionally, ACV contains chlorogenic acid, an antioxidant shown to protect against LDL cholesterol oxidation, a noted risk factor for developing heart disease.
In the 2018 study, participants consuming ACV had significantly lower plasma triglyceride and total cholesterol compared to the control group. Additionally, the high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL) was significantly higher compared to the control group.
And not to mention, ACV’s potential role in aiding weight loss can help lessen the overall risk of experiencing a heart attack and stroke.
4. Apple Cider Vinegar May Promotes Skin Health
Consider replacing harsh cleaners with irritating fragrances, dies, and other chemicals with apple cider vinegar. Though full-strength use is discouraged, a diluted apple cider vinegar mixture of 50 percent ACV and 50 percent water can help soothe and exfoliate the skin, combat oily skin, fight and reduce acne, protect against age spots, and relieve sunburns.
Applying AVC on skin warts may also dry out and treat the affected area.
5. Apple Cider Vinegar May Protect Foodborne Bacteria
While most food preservatives and additives are often synthetic and artificial, apple cider vinegar offers a more natural approach to food preservation. The high acidity in ACV can inhibit bacterial growth (including Salmonella and E. coli) and lower the risk of food spoiling.
In fact, research has shown both lemon juice and ACV can lower Salmonella from leafy greens to safe levels. While this is a benefit of apple cider, keep in mind you there still needs to be common sense and food safety when adding ACV to foods.
6. Apple Cider Vinegar Is a Good Source of Antioxidants
Apple cider vinegar supplies protective antioxidants that defend against cell damage. Protecting the cells and body ultimately guards against health conditions, such as cancer, along with slowing down the aging process. In fact, a 2020 review suggests the antioxidants from ACV may play a role in lowering the risk for Alzheimer’s disease.
A 2018 study with rats found ACV given to rats after being fed a high-fat diet for six to nine weeks. Researchers found the antioxidants from ACV were able to lower obesity-induced oxidative stress in the rats caused by the high fat diet.
7. Apple Cider Vinegar Acts as a Natural All-Purpose Cleaner
Though not a direct benefit to physical health, apple cider vinegar is often used as an all-purpose cleaner to clean kitchen and bathroom counters, sinks, cabinets, and other household surfaces.
Mix equal parts of water with apple cider vinegar for a natural, chemical-free, natural disinfectant and cleaner.
Cautions and Dosing Recommendations for ACV
WebMD warns apple cider vinegar may cause moderate interactions with diabetes medications and diuretics, which may subsequently increase the risk of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and hypokalemia (low potassium levels).
Additionally, apple cider vinegar can irritate the esophagus lining, erode tooth enamel, and place strain on the kidneys and bones. Therefore, people with kidney or bone health concerns may benefit from limiting ACV in the diet.
ACV can also delay gastric emptying. This is important for those with gastroparesis, a medical condition characterized by delayed gastric emptying.
Dosage recommendations are undetermined at this time, though an appropriate dose of apple cider vinegar depends on several factors such as age, health, and compounding health conditions.
Before using any sort of alternative therapy or supplement, consult with your primary care provider or other healthcare professional. Also follow expert advice and relevant directions on product labels.
Ultimately, while there is some evidence regarding the health benefits of apple cider vinegar, ACV should not entirely displace more established treatments and be used with caution.
In Summary: Apple Cider Vinegar Health Benefits
Apples are known to be a good source of antioxidants. Since apple cider vinegar is made from apples, those antioxidants are found in ACV as well. In addition, acetic acid provides unique health benefits that could benefit heart health and provide anti-microbial properties.
ACV has been shown to potentially add weight loss benefits in addition to following a low-calorie, healthy diet. However, any weight loss benefit does not negate following healthy lifestyle habits.
Outside of the body, ACV may benefit skin health and serve as a natural cleaner in place of harsher chemicals.
McDonald IV E. Debunking the health benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar. UChicago Medicine. Published August 23, 2018. https://www.uchicagomedicine.org/forefront/health-and-wellness-articles/debunking-the-health-benefits-of-apple-cider-vinegar.
Spero D. Apple Cider Vinegar and diabetes - Diabetes Self Management. Published October 3, 2018. https://www.diabetesselfmanagement.com/blog/apple-cider-vinegar-and-diabetes/.
Tripathi S, Mazumder PM. Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) and their pharmacological approach towards alzheimer's disease (AD): A Review. Indian Journal of Pharmaceutical Education and Research. https://www.ijper.org/article/1197.