This is a product whose use over a wide range of purposes is gaining a great deal of traction: apple cider vinegar.
Apple cider vinegar is one of the most popular ingredients in alternative health circles today and its popularity is growing all the time. It has been used as a natural remedy for a host of ills in cultures all over the world and throughout history.
Now it is credited with aiding in everything from weight loss to increased virility, from skincare to household cleaning: in other words, this humble ingredient is experiencing quite the renaissance.
But is this amount of excitement prudent? Read on to find out.
- What is apple cider vinegar?
- Different types of apple cider vinegar
- Apple cider vinegar: a brief history
- Uses of apple cider vinegar
- Bringing it up to date
- Oral care
- Other uses
- Pet care: apple cider vinegar
- Apple cider vinegar’s nutritional profile
- 5 facts about apple cider vinegar you may not have known
- Health benefits
- Possible risks and downsides of apple cider vinegar use in healthcare
- My top recipes using apple cider vinegar
- Apple cider vinegar: home remedies
- The classic: weight loss
- Digestion: having trouble? Try adding in apple cider vinegar as salad dressing
- Soothe your sore throat with apple cider vinegar and honey
- Are you in need of a natural energy boost? Try an apple cider vinegar tea to start your day right
- Manage your insulin levels by drinking apple cider vinegar
- Making your own apple cider vinegar at home
- Apple cider vinegar 101…done!
What is apple cider vinegar?
Apple cider vinegar, made from fermented apple juice, has a great many uses.
It is made by first crushing apples and then squeezing them for their juice. Yeast and bacteria are then added to the juice to begin the alcoholic fermentation process, during which the sugars are turned into alcohol. The alcohol is then converted into vinegar using acetic acid-forming bacteria.
The acetic and malic acids are what give vinegar its distinctive, sour flavour.
Different types of apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar comes in four main forms:
- Raw apple cider vinegar
- Unfiltered apple cider vinegar
- Filtered apple cider vinegar
- Apple cider vinegar with its mother (find out about the “mother” later in our post)
Unrefined and raw vinegars will typically have a murkier appearance and will often contain the ‘mother’ culture. These versions are better for culinary uses as they contain these healthier cultures and an arguably richer flavour.
Filtered apple cider vinegar doesn’t contain these and so won’t give you the same health benefits. However, these filtered vinegars are often used as cleaning products to great effect.
Apple cider vinegar: a brief history
Vinegar is one of the earliest known fermentation processes. Have you ever heard someone complain that a cheap wine ‘tastes like vinegar?’ Well, wine is the oldest process known to man, and vinegars were made from these early types of wine.
Dating back to the fifth millennia BCE, wine has seen an illustrious history. The Babylonians made wine from date palms whilst the Egyptians made their own versions from barley. During the third millennia BCE, the Aryans – an ancient nomadic tribe – developed a sour tasting apple wine: the forefather of apple cider.
Indeed, the name ‘cider’ has its roots in ‘shekar’, a Phoenician word meaning strong drink, especially wine. We can trace a lineage for apple cider vinegar from the ancient Babylonians to the Phoenicians, via the Persian Aryans and their fermentation of apples.
This apple wine recipe found its way to the Greco-Roman world and, from there, people started to develop apple cider vinegar alongside their soured apple wines.
Uses of apple cider vinegar
Appropriate to a product with such a long history, apple cider vinegar has been used in medicine for thousands of years. It has been employed to treat diverse complaints including, but far from limited to:
- Chronic dandruff
- Various types of poisoning
During both the First World War and the American Civil War, apple cider vinegar was used in combat to treat the wounded. Japanese Samurai warriors are rumoured to have drunk it for virility and physical strength whilst the Ancient Persians drank it to prevent the build-up of fatty tissue in their bodies. The Roman army even used apple cider vinegar alongside fire to help break apart rocks as they marched through the Alps.
Apple cider vinegar is also a preservative and has been used as such for thousands of years. Even Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, is said to have made use of it in the fourth century BCE. He prescribed apple cider vinegar mixed with honey for its amazing natural detox cleansing, healing, and energizing qualities. (1)
Apple cider vinegar has historically also been used for skincare. Cleopatra herself is said to have used it to clean her delicate facial skin. It has very high acidic levels which are thought to balance the pH of the skin when applied as a tonic.
Bringing it up to date
So, these are a few ways in which apple cider vinegar has been used historically. The question remains: how is it used today?
Apple cider vinegar is credited with being one of the more versatile health ingredients currently on the market. It’s loaded with beneficial bacteria and enzymes, as well as pectin and mineral traces that are all very good for your hair and skin. Apple cider vinegar also contains antibacterial properties, making it useful in combating a variety of skin conditions.
But what can it do for you?
Below are a few ways in which you might be able to incorporate it into your daily life:
A skin brightening toner
This one is particularly easy. We’ve all been flabbergasted when out shopping for beauty products at how expensive they can be, and none more so that branded skin toners. Why not try out apple cider vinegar as a cheap and healthy, self-made alternative?
Apple cider vinegar contains naturally occurring acetic and alpha-hydroxy acids. Both of these help to stimulate blood flow and minimise the appearance of large pores. (2, 3)
Use apple cider vinegar as a toner to take advantage of these natural properties. Combine one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar with two cups of water, mixing well. Then simply use a piece of cotton wool or a cotton pad to apply the mixture over your face after cleansing. Take care not to rinse the mixture from your face – and, don’t worry, the smell will disappear soon enough!
This is of particular use if you suffer with dry skin, as apple cider vinegar can help with this as well. Before applying your toner, fill your sink up with warm water and add two to three tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, mixing well. Use this to wash your face, helping to seal in any moisture in the skin.
This will leave your skin fully hydrated, especially during the brutal winter months
A delicate aftershave for sensitive skin types
Aftershave is designed to tighten your pores after shaving. However, many people find themselves too sensitive to apply it straight after. If this sounds like you, don’t worry, this remedy could be just what you need.
Simply take a capful of apple cider vinegar and rub it into your face after your shave.
It will help to calm your irritated skin and will leave your face soft and smooth as it dries. If the vinegar is too much, always feel free to dilute it slightly in warm water before applying.
Remedy your shaving bumps with a little apple cider vinegar
Shaving bumps are itchy and annoying and, at the same time, can also make you feel self-conscious. If you suffer from shaving bumps, apple cider vinegar may well be a godsend.
When your skin feels aggravated post-shave, dry your legs thoroughly before applying undiluted apple cider vinegar using a cotton wool pad or ball. The anti-inflammatory properties in the vinegar will help to sooth your irritated skin whilst simultaneously softening the area.
If you have a tendency towards ingrown hair, apple cider vinegar can also encourage them to grow out.
After-sun care with apple cider vinegar
Have you over indulged in the UV department? Well, apple cider vinegar could be your new best friend. It can bring a great deal of relief, healing that irritable sunburn with a gentle application.
Add half a cup of apple cider vinegar to four cups of warm water. Using a towel or flannel, soak up the solution and gently dab onto the affected areas. It may sting at first, but leave it on for as long as you can bear it.
The apple cider vinegar will help to balance your skin’s pH levels and encourage the healing process to speed up, leading to longer term relief.
Heal those sore bruises
Apple cider vinegar’s anti-inflammatory properties can help to calm damaged skin: this is never so important as when you’re healing from a bruise. In addition, the acetic acid in it can help to increase circulation, promoting faster recovery.
Soak a cotton wool pad or ball in undiluted apple cider vinegar and apply it to the bruised skin area. Use a bandage to secure it to your skin and leave it in place. You should start to notice a difference after an hour or so.
Treat your pesky acne
If your skin is prone to acne, no doubt you will have tried everything and more to try to reduce breakouts, calming them as much as is humanly possible. Well, one thing you might not have tried is apple cider vinegar.
With its natural antibacterial and antiseptic properties, apple cider vinegar can help fight the spot-causing bacteria that sits beneath your skin’s surface. As mentioned above, when used as a daily skin toner, it can help to balance your skin’s pH levels, further aiding in the prevention of spot breakouts.
Diminish cellulite and signs of aging
Apple cider vinegar contains certain minerals that promote circulation, including magnesium, calcium and potassium. Using it on areas covered in cellulite may well improve circulation, oxygen supply and, therefore, collagen production enough to help in diminishing the appearance of cellulite over time.
Mix a cup of apple cider vinegar with two cups of water. Apply to your affected, trouble areas and leave for half an hour before rinsing clean with warm water. Do this daily to see the improvement in the appearance of your cellulite.
Apple cider vinegar can also work much the same way for your age spots. Apply the same solution to these using a cotton wool ball or pad, repeating daily for a few weeks. You should start to see the difference, looking and feeling younger day by day.
Give your hair a healthy shine
Product build up is a common problem with shampoo and conditioner usage. Have you ever found that your shampoo stops working so well a few months in, causing you to constantly shift from one product to another?
This is due to the build up as the product clogs your hair follicles, affecting your hair’s appearance and health.
Apple cider vinegar is widely reported as being able to help remove product builder. It has been used to great effect as a hair rinse.
Simply mix two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar with a cup of warm water and rinse your hair with it after shampooing. Then rinse thoroughly and apply a light conditioner to the ends. It will help to keep your hair soft and shiny.
Treat that annoying dandruff
Apple cider vinegar’s natural antifungal properties make it useful for combating dandruff: in fact, it can stop it from forming at all. Aside from this, the acidity levels found in ACV can help to balance pH levels and restore the protective acid mantle layer of your scalp (a defensive layer of skin.) This will further help to frustrate fungal growth.
The best and easiest way to use apple cider vinegar to combat dandruff is as a hair rinse, as mentioned above. This one may need to be a bit stronger, however. Mix half and half apple cider vinegar and warm water in a large glass and then slowly pour it over your head, massaging into your scalp as you go.
Repeat this weekly as part of your normal hair care routine and watch as your flaky scalp disappears.
Deal with those corns and calluses
Corns and calluses are caused by uneven pressure and rubbing on the feet. There are many ways to deal with them, removing the hard skin and replacing it with a soft, new layer. One of the best and simplest aids for this is apple cider vinegar. (4)
Soak a small towel or flannel in ACV and secure it over the callus or corn overnight. In the morning, the skin should be much easier to work with.
Combat athlete’s foot
Though most prevalent in sporty types, athlete’s foot can hit anyone. The warm, moist environment in our shoes is a breeding ground for the fungus which lies behind this unpleasant condition.
As with dandruff, apple cider vinegar’s natural fungicidal and pH rebalancing properties are very useful for dealing with athlete’s foot. Simply soak your feet in a solution of fifty-fifty vinegar and warm water. Repeat daily before bedtime. You should start to notice the symptoms start to diminish after a few days, leaving your feet feeling and looking much better.
Get those pearly whites shining
Apple cider vinegar can help to whiten your teeth.
Try gargling a capful every morning for a couple of minutes, then spit and rinse. This should help lift off any surface stains, leaving your teeth shining and clear.
For a gentler alternative, trying mixing 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar with a cup of water.
Freshen your breath with a cider vinegar mouthwash
If you’ve been reading our handy Garlic 101, you’ll no doubt have been trying out the health-giving bulb yourself. You’ll also no doubt have noticed the pongy breath that comes with it.
Never fear! Gargling apple cider vinegar isn’t just good for whitening your teeth: it can help to freshen your breath, too. The vinegar can immediately kill any odour causing bacteria, helpfully neutralising any lingering, nasty smells.
Note: There is some evidence that suggests ACV may erode the enamel on your teeth (more on this below), so these treatments should only be used for short periods of time, not on a regular basis.
Apple cider vinegar has applications beyond your beauty and hygiene regime, however. It is first and foremost a tasty ingredient in cooking, which I will go into in much greater detail later on in my recipes section.
All vinegars are useful as a household cleaning product due to their acidity, and apple cider vinegar is no exception to this rule.
Because of the acidic nature of vinegar, it can counteract many unpleasant build ups, can dissolve away soap scum and grease, and can wash off brines left by hard water. You can use it to clean sinks, windows, bathroom and kitchen counters, cabinets… almost all hard surfaces, really.
Mix equal parts apple cider vinegar with water and use to scrub.
You can also keep your drains clean and fresh smelling by pouring a half cup of baking soda into them, followed by a cup each of apple cider vinegar and warm water.
Pet care: apple cider vinegar
Another great use people put apple cider vinegar to is with regards to pet care.
There are very few, if any, credible scientific studies that either prove or disprove the benefits of ingesting apple cider vinegar for pets. Of course, a lack of scientific data doesn’t necessarily mean that remedies don’t work, but research published in scientific journals is always nice. Such data give us a quantifiable way of describing the uses of a given chemical or product.
However, just as it is good for your hair, apple cider vinegar is gaining traction as a great product for your pet’s shaggy coat. It will help in fighting off fleas, and will leave your pet’s fur looking like new. (5)
Fans of apple cider vinegar recommend using a mixture of one part vinegar to one part water. Apply using a spray bottle, squirting it into your pet’s fur.
Alternatively, you could mix a dash of apple cider vinegar into your pet’s next bath. They might not thank you, but it could keep their coat glossy, fresh and pest free.
Obviously, you should be extremely careful not to get the solution in your furry friend’s eyes.
Apple cider vinegar’s nutritional profile
As far as nutrition goes, apple cider vinegar is by no means a heavy hitter in its macronutrient profile.
In fact, apple cider vinegar provides a mere three calories per tablespoon, with no fat, protein or fibre in it at all. This makes it a very good way to bring flavour to a dish without having to add extra, unwanted calories.
Apple cider vinegar’s micronutrient profile is more involved, however. As we have seen above, it is made from the fermented juice of crushed apples. Like apple juice, therefore, apple cider vinegar will likely contain the following:
- vitamins B1, B2, and B6;
- folic acid;
- pantothenic acid;
- and vitamin C.
It will also provide you with small amounts of the minerals iron, phosphorous, potassium, sodium, calcium, and magnesium. (6)
In addition, apple cider vinegar will provide amino acids (the building blocks of protein) and antioxidants, especially when taken with the ‘mother.’ These all help to slow the process of cell degeneration and damage.
Not bad for three calories!
Does quality matter?
In apple cider in particular, the type and quality of the product can have quite a major impact.
You will usually want it with the ‘mother’- the complex structure of beneficial acids that seem to have health benefits which I will talk about further at the end of this article. Unrefined vinegars will typically have a murkier appearance and will contain this mother culture.
Raw, unfiltered and unrefined versions are better for use in cooking as they contain these healthier cultures.
Clear and pasteurized vinegars don’t contain these and so won’t give you the same health benefits. However, these more refined, clearer vinegars are better put to use as cleaning products, as they will not leave behind any residue.
5 facts about apple cider vinegar you may not have known
It is getting famous for its promotion of weight loss
A study in Japan showed that those who regularly used apple cider vinegar as a supplement lost slightly more weight on average than those who didn’t take any. Theories revolve around the idea that some components of apple cider vinegar may activate certain genes which are involved in the breakdown of fats. (7)
It helps to balance blood sugar levels
Apple cider vinegar appears to have an anti-glycaemic effect and can block starch digestion in some cases. These factors both help to keep blood sugar levels even. Of course, keeping your blood sugar balanced on an even keel is very important for your long term health and can help in the treatment of conditions such as diabetes. (8)
It can soothe your upset stomach
Unfiltered apple cider vinegar contains helpful probiotics which help in the cultivation of a healthy balance of good bacteria. These good bacteria are vital in fighting whatever unpleasantness is going on in your gut. Regular ingestion of apple cider vinegar can help to promote overall gut and digestive health.
It’s a good cleaner, outside as well as in
We’ve all heard our grandmothers tell us to wash the windows with vinegar… well, they are right!
Aside from apple cider vinegar having many purported detox benefits for the body, it can also be used as a non-toxic cleaning agent. It makes a good odour absorbing, antibacterial alternative to harsher chemical cleaning products.
Just mix 1 part apple cider vinegar to 1 part water and get ready with the elbow grease.
Apple cider vinegar can be used as a safe herbicide
That’s right – put away those bottles of neon-coloured chemicals you might find at the local store. Apple cider vinegar kills garden weeds as well as being a good herbicide for plants that thrive in more acidic soils.
I have hinted at a few of these already, but now it’s time to get down to business.
What are the health benefits, if any, of apple cider vinegar: does it deserve its popularly touted superfood status?
Fans of apple cider vinegar claim all sorts, advertising it nearly as a cure all panacea. From weight loss to digestive complaints and skin issues, it is the bees’ knees.
But, is it?
Well, bad news, in part. There are actually very few scientific studies that support these claims.
By all means, add apple cider vinegar to your diet or your supplement regime, but let’s not get carried away. It is not the answer to everything.
That being said, there is plenty of anecdotal evidence for apple cider vinegar’s potency in various spheres, and I have compiled a list of these below:
Possibly the main way in which apple cider vinegar is a good tool for weight loss is that, as I mentioned above, it has very few calories (remember, 3 per tablespoon) in comparison to the amount of flavour that it brings to food. Use it as a healthy seasoning and your meals’ caloric impact can be greatly diminished.
However, apple cider vinegar has gained traction as a ‘fat burner.’ Claims persist that a daily shot of apple cider vinegar will stimulate your body’s fat burning potential. The fact is, however, that taking apple cider vinegar like this will do very little – if anything – to actually change either your body composition or your basal metabolic rate. (9)
As registered dietician Katherine Zeratsky says, there is no scientific evidence to back this claim. The only way to lose weight is through the implementation of a generally healthy diet in conjunction with a regular fitness work. (10)
Although this advice might be less enticing than the thought of a miracle cure like apple cider vinegar, unfortunately, in the real world, it is what works best in the long run.
Although there is an absence of hard scientific data on the subject, there has been some interesting preliminary research which suggests that apple cider vinegar might be beneficial for your health.
One animal study has shown that obese rats who took apple cider vinegar on a daily basis saw a reduction in both total and LDL (‘bad’) cholesterol as well as triglyceride levels, due to its antioxidant properties. (11)
It is important to note that these findings have only been documented on rats, so, as with all animal research, it’s hard to know whether they will apply to humans.
Weight loss aside, however, apple cider vinegar does have some seemingly proven health benefits. It has been shown to possibly help people suffering with type 2 diabetes.
A study in the Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism found that taking two teaspoons of vinegar with a meal made up of complex carbohydrates can reduce postprandial glycemia (an after-meal spike in blood sugar levels) by up to 20% compared to a placebo.
A study in Diabetes Care found that people who drank two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar before bed, alongside an ounce of cheese, had reduced fasting glucose levels the following morning, compared to a control group who ate the cheese alongside a glass of water. (12)
However, as this study used data from only eleven participants, it is a long way from being conclusive – this is a particularly small sample group for such an experiment – and, of course, isn’t much use for us vegans anyway.
It is important to remember, therefore, that apple cider vinegar should not be taken as a remedy for diabetes.
If you have type 2 diabetes, you should always consult a registered medical practitioner on the best way to handle your healthcare requirements, rather than relying on ACV or any other supplement.
Beyond weight management and diabetes, apple cider vinegar may yet contain some interesting surprises.
The medical journal Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine featured a case study in which doctors cured a 32 year old woman’s yeast infection using topically applied apple cider vinegar. The paper’s authors noted that other integrative treatments were not successful. (13)
Of course, experts would caution against applying anything to your vagina, or any other sensitive part of the body. It could upset its natural pH balance: do not try this on your own without first consulting a relevant healthcare professional!
Possible risks and downsides of apple cider vinegar use in healthcare
Consumed in moderation, apple cider vinegar is most often safe. However, it’s not just available in its raw, liquid form. It can also be bought in tablet form for use as a supplement.
The companies who produce these supplements market them as a good source of vitamins and minerals, as ways to lose weight (as mentioned above) or as cleansing support (often remaining rather vague about what that actually means.)
Whatever you choose to use these supplements for, however, it’s important to remain cautious when taking more potent forms of ACV. Too much can definitely be a bad thing: excessive amounts of vinegar consumption can decrease potassium levels to a hazardous degree.
This is dangerous, especially for those suffering with high blood pressure.
Many supplements might also contain several times the amount of acid found in regular apple cider vinegar. This can lead to burns when swallowing. In extreme cases these supplements can be toxic. This is one instance where heightened consumer vigilance is not just wise, but necessary.
Apple cider vinegar can also interact with medications (more on this below) so, once more, it is always advisable to consult your doctor before beginning a programme of supplementation.
Aside from the downsides, there is also the risk of the upsides of apple cider vinegar being overblown to a dangerous degree: people might believe that apple cider vinegar can do things that haven’t been proven.
For example, there is a longstanding online rumour that vinegar can be used to treat cancer. It can’t. Of course it can’t – it’s vinegar!
These rumours largely stem from a body of research in which Japanese scientists used vinegar to inhibit the growth of cancer cells. However, this was in a petri dish in laboratory conditions, a long way removed from actual people with actual cancer. The researchers acknowledged that there are no studies in humans. (14, 15)
If you or anyone you know is worried about cancer, seek medical help from a doctor.
These are all general downsides to the use of medical apple cider vinegar, or its use as a health supplement. Read on for five specific reasons to avoid overdoing consumption:
Digestive and stomach concerns
Apple cider vinegar helps to prevent blood sugar spikes, as mentioned above, by reducing the rate at which food leaves the stomach and enters the digestive tract. This slows down how quickly it can be absorbed into the bloodstream.
However, many people with type 1 diabetes suffer from gastroparesis. With gastroparesis, the nerves in the stomach don’t work as they should. Food stays in for too long as a result and is not emptied at a normal rate.
For those with type 1 diabetes who suffer from gastroparesis, timing insulin with meals is very challenging because it is hard to predict how long food will take to digest and be absorbed. Apple cider vinegar can worsen this condition.
Symptoms of gastroparesis include nausea, uncomfortable bloating and chronic heartburn.
Aside from this, apple cider vinegar may cause some people without pre-existing conditions to experience unpleasant digestive symptoms.
Both animal and human studies have shown that acetic acid intake may decrease appetite and promote feelings of fullness, leading quite naturally to a reduction in caloric intake. (16)
However, ACV has also been found to increase instances of indigestion and nausea, which has been used to explain a lot of why people decrease their caloric intake. Rather than being satiated, they are suffering with indigestion or are else just plain feeling sick. (17)
Bone loss and low potassium levels
There are as yet no controlled studies on the effects on blood potassium levels and bone health with regards apple cider vinegar.
There is, however, a well-known case study documenting low blood potassium and bone loss. It was attributed to extensive use of apple cider vinegar supplementation. (18)
A 28 year old woman consumed roughly 250ml of apple cider vinegar diluted in water on a daily basis, for six years. She was admitted to hospital after she was found to have abnormalities in her blood chemistry alongside chronically low potassium level. Further, she was diagnosed with osteoporosis, a bone condition rarely associated with someone so young.
Admittedly this is a particularly large amount of apple cider vinegar, over a particularly long period of time. However, doctors involved in the woman’s treatment cited the regular taking of apple cider vinegar as the cause of her condition: it seems to have leached minerals from her bones to buffer the acidity in her blood produced by the vinegar.
They also noted that such high acid levels are a factor in reducing new bone formation.
Erosion of the enamel on your teeth
Acidic foods and drinks have been shown to be highly damaging to tooth enamel. (19)
Though fizzy drinks and fruit juices have been looked at more widely and in greater depth, research shows that the acetic acid in apple cider vinegar may also be a significant factor in the erosion of tooth enamel.
In one study, wisdom tooth enamel was immersed in a range of different vinegars, all with pH levels between 2.7 to 3.95. These vinegars caused a 1-20% loss of minerals from the teeth after just four hours. (20)
Of course, this study was conducted in a lab. In reality, saliva would help to protect against acidity. However, it is still a rather damning indictment: there is persistent evidence that vinegar in large quantities may cause dental erosion.
Skin and throat burns
Ingesting apple cider vinegar has the potential of causing both topical skin and oesophageal burns.
A retrospective study conducted in 1994, looking at an array of harmful liquids accidentally swallowed by children, found that acetic acid from vinegar was the most common acid which caused such throat burns. (21)
The researchers concluded that vinegar should be considered a potent caustic substance.
Due to this strong, acidic nature, ACV can also cause burns when applied directly to the skin. Cases of erosions appearing after the application of apple cider vinegar have been reported. There are many online anecdotal reports online of burns caused by topical application of apple cider vinegar to the skin, as well as several case studies. (22, 23)
As ever, use with caution and apply small amounts when first trying any topical skincare product. While these cases may be rare, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Finally, as with so many supplements, apple cider vinegar may interact with certain medications. A few of these include:
- Digoxin (Lanoxin): this is a medication used to lower your blood potassium levels. Using apple cider vinegar alongside digoxin could cause potassium levels to drop too far.
- Diabetes medication: those on insulin or insulin stimulating medications should beware of apple cider vinegar. They might experience dangerous, low blood sugar levels if combining their medication with vinegar supplements.
- Various diuretic drugs: certain diuretics cause the body to excrete potassium. Similar to those on digoxin, taking apple cider vinegar alongside these medications could drop the body’s potassium levels to dangerously low levels.
As ever, be advised that you should always consult a relevant healthcare professional before supplementing, especially if you are on any pre-existing medical regime.
My top recipes using apple cider vinegar
Despite all of the above, ACV is still a great pantry staple that can be used in a variety of different ways. Here are a few favorites:
Apple cider vinaigrette
Apple cider vinegar, like many of its vinegar cousins, is fantastic as a dressing for all your favourite salads. There is no reason not to try this simple, tasty recipe to jazz up any normally mundane leaves or vegetables. What’s more, it’s gluten free, paleo and a sugar-free version is easily made.
Spicy ginger switchel
Vinegar drinks are far more appetising than they might first sound, and this is a perfect one for those long winter evenings (or for your summer barbie – whenever, really!)
This spicy ginger switchel is an old fashioned drink, dating back to the early American colonies. The combination of vinegar and ginger became known as the haymaker’s punch during the nineteenth century, when it was served during the harvest as a delightful refreshment.
For a fun twist at a cocktail party, why not try adding a dash of rum? Your friends will all thank you.
Vegan cheese recipes can be… a little hit and miss, if we’re all honest.
Not this one, though. This creamy vegan queso recipe with apple cider vinegar is a delight;, far and away as good (if not better!) than the real thing.
Fully loaded with scrummy cashew nuts, tasty veggies, and a great deal of spice, this is one dip that will have people coming back for more.
Apple cider vinegar: home remedies
For all that the scientific community has yet to reach any consensus over apple cider vinegar, with research being so scarce, there is however plenty of anecdotal evidence to suggest that its use in home remedies can be very worthwhile.
As mentioned at the beginning of this article, its medicinal use in reasonable quantities has been documented over the centuries.
How then might apple cider vinegar be incorporated into your health regime in a safe, productive fashion? Despite the medicinal downsides mentioned above, there are a good few home remedies that might be worth trying out.
Read on for a list of my five top home remedies:
The classic: weight loss
Apple cider vinegar has long been used as an appetite suppressant. According to many leading nutritionists, it can be very useful in a calorie controlled diet, when you are trying to eat less to lose weight.
Studies have found that apple cider vinegar might suppress the areas of your brain responsible for controlling appetite. Of course, this would make it easier for you to consume fewer calories over time.
As mentioned above, the acetic acid in apple cider vinegar may help with fat storage. Acetic acid has been shown to help reduce fat storage in studies using rats. Following the preliminary data, a study in 2009 looked at 122 obese people and found that daily consumption of vinegar helped in aiding weight loss. (24)
Try diluting 15ml of apple cider vinegar in 500ml of water. Drink this every day for 12 weeks.
Remember, too much apple cider vinegar, over time, can cause health complications, so stick to the recommended dose and consult a doctor or registered dietician before you begin.
Digestion: having trouble? Try adding in apple cider vinegar as salad dressing
Apple cider vinegar is very helpful in aiding digestion, according to experts.
There are a few ways in which it can do so. One of the main ways, however, is due to its antibacterial properties. These can help overcome common gut concerns which are often caused by bacteria: diarrhoea is one of the most often experienced of these complaints.
As a fermented food source, apple cider vinegar also contains probiotics – especially when taken with the ‘mother.’ Probiotics help in the regulation of overall digestive health.
For a gut-healthy salad dressing, try mixing a dash apple cider and French mustard in a pan. Simmer, then add olive oil to the mix. Drizzle it over some of your favourite, high fibre vegetables to get the most out of both the lovely, tart flavours involved and the stomach healthy benefits.
Soothe your sore throat with apple cider vinegar and honey
Apple cider vinegar’s antibacterial and antiviral properties can make it a potentially beneficial aid in helping to clear up a sore throat, especially when drunk as a tea.
The theory runs that apple cider vinegar works to fight the bacteria causing the sore throat.
However, as with much else surrounding apple cider vinegar, there isn’t much in the way of scientific evidence surrounding the claim that vinegar tea will do much to get rid of your sore throat.
Use it as a relief, by all means, but consult your doctor if your condition persists for more than a couple of days.
3 ways to try apple cider vinegar for sore throat relief
- Mix a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar with two teaspoons of maple syrup in a cup of hot water. This makes a good, basic tonic for your sore throat.
- To spice it up a little, try boiling fresh ginger into a tea, adding two teaspoons each of apple cider vinegar, syrup and coconut oil at the end. Stir well and enjoy.
- Gargle it. Take two teaspoons of apple cider vinegar, mix with warm salt water and then gargle for 30 seconds, three times per day. Important: spit it out afterwards. Too much salt water and apple cider vinegar will bring their own health problems.
Are you in need of a natural energy boost? Try an apple cider vinegar tea to start your day right
A nice cup of tea with apple cider vinegar can make a delicious alternative to calorie laden, caffeinated drinks like cappuccinos or energy drinks.
Acetic acid has been shown in animal trials to boost the way in which muscles refuel on their energy sources, notably ATP. It is suggested that this could work similarly for humans as well.
Try combining a teaspoon each of apple cider vinegar, lemon juice and cinnamon in a glass of warm water. Then add a dash of cayenne pepper or paprika. In addition to the energy boosting effects of apple cider vinegar, cayenne pepper and cinnamon spice both contain therapeutic properties which may help to boost your metabolism and reduce inflammation.
This is not a meal replacement, however, as some might have you believe. Do not use this as a substitute or as an attempt at detox: it’s best when drunk alongside a healthy, nutritious vegan breakfast.
Manage your insulin levels by drinking apple cider vinegar
Drink apple cider vinegar with water and a meal or snack to manage insulin levels. As previously mentioned, it can help to better regulate insulin and blood sugar levels.
For people managing diabetes or pre-diabetes, ACV may be a helpful addition as a means of managing the condition. It’s thought that acetic acid may help in slowing down the conversion of complex carbohydrates into sugar in the bloodstream.
This in turn allows for more time for the sugar to be removed from the bloodstream, allowing the body to keep blood sugar levels more stable, limiting spikes.
However, once more there is little research to back this up. And remember, if you are on insulin medication already, adding apple cider vinegar may be an unnecessary or even unwise complication.
Always check with your doctor and follow their advice.
As apple cider vinegar is an unproven treatment, representing a relative scarcity of scientific data on the ingredient, there are as yet no official recommendations on how to use it. (25)
Suggestions range from a teaspoon or so to several tablespoons, with some people even recommending drinking whole glasses of apple cider vinegar. However, remember the cases I cited above: too much really can cause some nasty health complications.
As also mentioned above, tablets containing dehydrated apple cider vinegar are also widely available. These can be preferable if you want to take apple cider vinegar but are put off by the vinegar’s overpowering taste, smell or acidity.
The amount of apple cider vinegar to be found in these tablets will vary by brand, but typically one capsule will contain about 500mg, roughly equivalent to the 10ml found in two liquid teaspoons.
There is even less research on the effects of apple cider vinegar in tablet form than there is in its raw, liquid state, though.
The supposed benefits of apple cider vinegar tablets are all drawn from studies which look at liquid vinegar, or acetic acid itself. Whilst these studies might be useful for extrapolating the predicted effect of apple cider vinegar pills, it is still very difficult to gauge whether they have the same effects as the liquid.
As with any supplement, it is recommended that the raw form of an ingredient be relied upon as much as possible. If you want to include apple cider vinegar in your diet or health routine, look for the source: ingest actual apple cider vinegar, relying only on supplements where you’re unable to take in the full amount from liquid form vinegar.
Always remember the possible cons from taking apple cider vinegar. These are all detailed above, of course, but just to remind you:
- Small amounts of apple cider vinegar may be safe enough, but larger doses, or longer term dosing, can come with risks. It can erode tooth enamel and cause burning to the mouth and throat.
- For people suffering with diabetes, apple cider vinegar supplementation may worsen digestive problems and negatively influence insulin sensitivity.
- Those suffering with osteoporosis should be cautious of apple cider vinegar supplementation. Over time, with regular use, it could reduce bone density by leaching nutrients.
- People taking diuretics, laxatives and medication for heart disease, in particular, should check with a doctor before beginning a course of apple cider vinegar supplementation. In general, it is always a good idea to check with your doctor, regardless of your current health concerns, before commencing a supplementation regime with such an untested product.
Whilst many sites might push you to experiment with supplements based solely on their use in alternative medicine, or as natural remedies, here at Happy Happy Vegan we want the best for you.
Where there is little scientific data, we always council caution: by all means, try different products, apple cider vinegar amongst them, but go in with your eyes open!
Making your own apple cider vinegar at home
A lot of the apple cider vinegar you might find in the shops is pasteurized and filtered. Though these versions are still effective as cleaning products, they are not the best in terms of their purported health benefits and culinary use. The ‘mother’ will have been removed, as will most of the benefits along with it.
Of course, there are a few brands available which still have the ‘mother’ – most notably Bragg’s (see below) – meaning that the beneficial good bacteria developed during the fermentation process is still in there.
However, there is one sure fire way to ensure that you keep all the goodness in your apple cider vinegar: make your own.
Read on for my handy ‘how to’ to create your very own apple cider vinegar from home:
Equipment you will need:
- A clean jar
- A fermentation weight and a cheesecloth or coffee filter
- A strong elastic band
- Filtered water
- Organic apple scraps – enough to three quarters fill your clean jar
- Cane sugar – two tablespoons
First, clean your jar with boiling water and let it dry. When it is fully dry, fill your jar three quarters full with your apple scraps. If you are using whole apples, dice them roughly into manageable sized pieces before using them
Next, dissolve one tablespoon of the cane sugar in one cup of filtered water. Pour this sugar water over your apples in the jar until they are fully submerged. Feel free to add a little extra filtered water to make sure the apples are entirely covered.
Place your fermentation weight on top of the apples, weighing them down. If you don’t have a fermentation weight, feel free to use a smaller glass jar- anything that will keep them compressed and sealed.
NOTE: Any apples which remain exposed to the air are liable to grow mouldy.
Cover the large jar with your cheesecloth or coffee filter, securing it with a rubber band.
Find a nice, dark spot at room temperature in which to store your jar of apples. Leave the jar here for about three weeks. Check on it every couple of days to make sure that your apples are still fully under water, topping them up if needs be.
Make sure that no mould is growing.
At the three week mark, your mixture should have started to smell quite sweet. This is the beginning of your apple cider vinegar!
At this point, strain the apple pieces out and discard them for compost, then return the liquid to the jar. Cover it once more and put the jar back for another three to four weeks, remembering now to stir every few days.
After these three to four weeks, your apple cider vinegar should have begun to turn tart. At this point, when it reaches the tartness you want, transfer the mixture to a different, clean jar. It’s now ready to use!
What is the ‘Mother’ in Bragg’s apple cider vinegar?
Let’s finish on one of the most common questions surrounding ACV – namely, What is the ‘Mother’ in Bragg’s apple cider vinegar?
Apple cider vinegar with the ‘mother’ is in its unrefined, unfiltered and unpasteurized form. The ‘mother’ here is a colony of beneficial bacteria that helps the vinegar to go through its fermentation process.
These beneficial bacteria may be useful for good gut health and immune support.
Apple cider vinegar with the ‘mother’ has a long history of use for immune support. Some accounts state that thieves during the bubonic plague survived the deadly disease by making an herbal vinegar, using herbs such as lavender, rosemary and thyme. (26)
The ‘mother’ also allows the vinegar to grow stronger over time, maintaining its beneficial properties.
Click here to buy yourself some Bragg’s.
Apple cider vinegar 101…done!
That’s us finished with apple cider vinegar for the time being. Hopefully we have covered everything you need to know to make an informed choice about this potent acid.
It is a product whose popularity continues to rise, though doubts persist as its acceptance outstrips academic research (whose value with regards to consumables cannot be overstated.)
Is it the cure all that people claim? Unlikely.
But is it at least a beneficial addition as a supplement to your diet? Possibly, if you remain cautious and read other online literature on the subject with a touch of healthy cynicism.
Either way, it is a tasty culinary ingredient and seems to work wonders as a beauty product.
Will you try it, or have you already? Why not try and find your favourite way of using apple cider vinegar in a safe, responsible way, and let us know your findings.
Don’t forget to share in the comments down below and thanks for reading.
About The Author:
James Dixon lives, works, and trains in Glasgow, Scotland.
He is an active freelance health and fitness writer, fully qualified personal trainer and veggie athlete. He holds several black belts and is currently training in both strength/barbell athletics and kickboxing. He has had an interest in animal welfare all his life, having been raised vegetarian, and has trained numerous athletes on plant based diets to great effect in recent years. Writing on vegetarian and vegan lifestyles and training is a passion for him.
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