Fact Checked By Leah Goebel, MS, RDN
August 11, 2021
You may have recently heard some buzz about apple cider vinegar and its potential benefits.
While this may seem to be a new trend in the health world, apple cider vinegar has been used for centuries for cooking and various health ailments.
So, is it worth the hype, or is it too good to be true?
Let’s discuss the benefits, potential side effects, and best uses for this basic pantry Staple!
As the name suggests, apple cider vinegar is a vinegar made from fermented apple juice.
It contains many antimicrobial and antioxidant properties which may provide different health benefits when consumed.
The major areas studied when it comes to apple cider vinegar and our health are digestion, weight loss, blood sugar control, and heart health.
When it comes to apple cider vinegar, one major area of focus is its potential effects on weight loss.
Apple cider vinegar is thought to contribute to weight loss by promoting satiety and fullness, lowering blood sugar levels, and reducing insulin levels (1).
For example, one study showed that taking 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar daily was associated with weight loss of 2.6 pounds over 3 months (2).
Two tablespoons was shown to be even more effective, associated with weight loss of 3.7 pounds.
That being said, there are a lack of studies showing these results over longer periods of time.
Additionally, these findings show a very modest amount of weight loss in comparison to other interventions and dietary changes.
Research on the relationship between apple cider vinegar consumption and satiety is mixed (3).
Studies that showed higher rates of satiety after consuming apple cider vinegar also attributed this to feelings of nausea, so were not found to be a sustainable way to promote fullness.
Apple cider vinegar is often marketed as an aide for digestive problems.
There are some studies suggesting that consuming apple cider vinegar can help to slow down the rate our stomach empties food, which in turn may help to reduce bloating (4).
More research is needed to determine this relationship.
Another potential health benefit of consuming apple cider vinegar relates to blood sugar control and type 2 diabetes.
Having chronic high blood sugar is a serious health concern and can lead to many complications, including damage to our eyes, kidneys, nerves, and heart (5).
For those with type 2 diabetes, controlling blood sugar is especially hard due to their lack of insulin or insulin resistance.
A few studies have shown that consuming apple cider vinegar after a meal may help to lower blood glucose levels faster, from 19-34% (6).
It is thought that the acetic acid found in apple cider vinegar helps to slow down how fast our stomach empties the food we eat, which causes a more gradual incline and decline of blood sugar.
That being said, these studies have been very small and need to be replicated in order to verify findings.
Additionally, those with type 2 diabetes would very likely need to rely on other nutrition interventions in order to control blood sugar levels.
If you are on certain medications or other interventions for diabetes and blood sugar control, talk with your doctor before stopping or adjusting your plan.
Lastly, apple cider vinegar has been used to improve lipid levels.
Our doctors can take lipid profiles to see the level of triglycerides and cholesterol we have in our blood.
This can be used to gauge our risk for certain heart conditions, like atherosclerosis.
Studies have shown that taking apple cider vinegar daily over 8 weeks may be an effective and cost-efficient way to improve lipid profiles, including lowering cholesterol and triglyceride levels (7).
It is important to note that many of these studies evaluating lipid profiles and apple cider vinegar were conducted on animals.
More human studies are needed to determine if this relationship is also found in human subjects.
Like any other type of vinegar, apple cider vinegar can also be used to wash and preserve foods due to its antimicrobial properties (8).
For example, using apple cider vinegar in pickling liquids helps to create a high acidity environment to prevent bacterial growth.
It can also be used as a safe way for cleaning fruits and vegetables by mixing 2 tablespoons of vinegar in about 8 cups of water.
While there have been many studies completed to evaluate the health benefits of apple cider vinegar, most of these studies are still very small and preliminary.
More research is needed to determine if these results can truly be attributed to apple cider vinegar intake.
Additionally, there can be some side effects associated with ingesting too much apple cider vinegar (or any type of vinegar, for that matter) (9).
For example, drinking apple cider vinegar straight can start to erode tooth enamel and the lining of your esophagus.
It can also cause stomach irritation, nausea, and vomiting. Because of this, vinegar should never be drunk by itself, but rather diluted in water.
If you experience any of these symptoms, stop taking apple cider vinegar.
Apple cider vinegar can also interact with certain medications. Talk to your doctor if you are concerned about this (10).
How Should I Take Apple Cider Vinegar?
In order to avoid potential side effects, general guidelines are to mix 1-2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in a large glass of water (at least 8 fluid ounces!).
You can dilute the mixture more, if desired, to have a more subtle taste.
Apple cider vinegar can also be a great ingredient in cooking and baking.
Try using apple cider vinegar in your next marinade or salad dressing!
While apple cider vinegar has been used for centuries, it has gained recent popularity due to potential health benefits.
Preliminary research has shown that consuming diluted forms of apple cider vinegar is a safe practice and may support an array of health benefits, including helping to control blood sugar and lipid levels.
More research is needed to determine a stronger relationship between apple cider vinegar and various health benefits
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