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Learn five health benefits you can get from apple cider vinegar, used since time immemorial for a range of therapies, from wound healing to shedding excess pounds
There isn't a shortage of stories around the therapeutic effects of apple cider vinegar (ACV), from weight management to disease prevention and treatment. This popular home remedy has also been used for hundreds of years in the kitchen as a cooking ingredient.
Vinegar, after all, has had colorful uses recorded throughout history. Hippocrates used it medicinally for wound healing, while Hannibal of Carthage used it to dissolve boulders blocking the path of his army.[i] Sung Tse in the 10th century wasn't any different: he was said to promote hand washing with sulfur and vinegar to prevent infection during autopsy. Let's dig deeper into the science backing the benefits of apple cider vinegar.
1. Aids in Weight Loss and Maintenance
Several human studies show that vinegar may increase feelings of fullness, which can lead to eating fewer calories and losing weight. In a study, taking vinegar with a high-carbohydrate meal resulted in increased feelings of fullness, leading subjects to eat 200 to 275 fewer calories throughout the day.[ii], [iii]
ACV may also be helpful in suppressing obesity-induced oxidative stress in animal models fed a diet high in unhealthy fats, mainly through facilitating antioxidant defense systems.[iv] It can also reduce the risk of obesity-related illnesses by lowering atherogenic risk.
Similar benefits have been seen in fruit vinegars like apple, pomegranate and prickly pear vinegars, helping prevent obesity and related cardiac complications due to their potent anti-inflammatory and anti-adiposity properties.[v]
2. Fights Harmful Bacteria
Vinegar has demonstrated strong anti-pathogen action, including fighting bacteria.[vi] Using organic acids as supplements has, in fact, been deemed safe and effective in eliminating harmful bacteria in the intestines.
A study probed the antimicrobial ability of ACV against pathogens including E. coli, S. aureus and C. albicans.[vii] The results showed that the vinegar had multiple antibacterial potential, with the concentration of ACV required to inhibit microbial growth varying for each species. Follow-up research showed that ACV can also successfully eradicate methicillin-resistant bacteria.[viii]
3. Assists in Managing Diabetes and Blood Sugar Levels
Among healthy subjects who ate a bread meal, supplementing with vinegar lowered glucose and insulin responses, as well as increased fullness.[x] "The results indicate an interesting potential of fermented and pickled products containing acetic acid," the researchers wrote. In a separate small study, subjects with diabetes reported that consuming 2 tablespoons of ACV before bedtime decreased their fasting blood sugar by 4% the next morning.[xi]
4. Helps Control Candida Infection
A 32-year-old woman with chronic vaginal candida infection[xiii] who failed to respond to other therapies also recovered with the application of ACV, which can be considered for patients who are unresponsive to conventional medical therapies for this condition.
5. Helps Improve Heart Health
Vinegar may also have acute effects on some risk factors of atherosclerosis, with significant changes seen in LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol between low and high doses of vinegar.[xvi] Researchers pointed to "a probable protective value" for its use.
Cooking with vinegar or consuming it alone remain the best ways to incorporate ACV into your diet. You can also dilute vinegar with water and drink it as a beverage.
If you're wondering about the "right" amount of apple cider vinegar to take, a 2016 review stated that consuming a drink with 15 milliliters, or about 1 tablespoon, of vinegar every day was typically enough to see potential health benefits.[xvii] Experts also recommend getting organic, unfiltered apple cider vinegar that retains the "mother," or a cloudy, murky appearance, for optimal health benefits.
[ii] Ostman E et al "Vinegar supplementation lowers glucose and insulin responses and increases satiety after a bread meal in healthy subjects" Eur J Clin Nutr. 2005; 59:983-8.
[iii] Johnston C et al "Vinegar and peanut products as complementary foods to reduce postprandial glycemia" J Am Diet Assoc. 2005 Dec;105(12):1939-42. doi: 10.1016/j.jada.2005.07.012.
[iv] Halima B et al "Apple Cider Vinegar Attenuates Oxidative Stress and Reduces the Risk of Obesity in High-Fat-Fed Male Wistar Rats" J Med Food. 2017 Nov 1. Epub 2017 Nov 1.
[v] Bounihi A et al "Fruit vinegars attenuate cardiac injury via anti-inflammatory and anti-adiposity actions in high-fat diet-induced obese rats" Pharm Biol. 2016 Sep 5:1-10. Epub 2016 Sep 5.
[vi] Yagnik D et al "Antimicrobial activity of apple cider vinegar against Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus and Candida albicans; downregulating cytokine and microbial protein expression" Sci Rep. 2018 Jan 29 ;8(1):1732. Epub 2018 Jan 29.
[vii] Yagnik D et al "Antimicrobial activity of apple cider vinegar against Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus and Candida albicans; downregulating cytokine and microbial protein expression" Sci Rep. 2018 Jan 29 ;8(1):1732. Epub 2018 Jan 29.
[viii] Tagnik D et al "Antibacterial apple cider vinegar eradicates methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus and resistant Escherichia coli" Sci Rep. 2021 Jan 20 ;11(1):1854. Epub 2021 Jan 20.
[ix] Gheflati A et al "The effect of apple vinegar consumption on glycemic indices, blood pressure, oxidative stress, and homocysteine in patients with type 2 diabetes and dyslipidemia: A randomized controlled clinical trial" Clin Nutr ESPEN. 2019 Oct ;33:132-138. Epub 2019 Jul 9.
[x] Ostman E et al "Vinegar supplementation lowers glucose and insulin responses and increases satiety after a bread meal in healthy subjects" Eur J Clin Nutr. 2005 Sep ;59(9):983-8.
[xi] White A et al "Vinegar Ingestion at Bedtime Moderates Waking Glucose Concentrations in Adults With Well-Controlled Type 2 Diabetes" Diabetes Care. 2007 Nov; 30(11): 2814-15.
[xii] Mota A et al "Antifungal Activity of Apple Cider Vinegar on Candida Species Involved in Denture Stomatitis" J Prosthodont. 2015 Jun ;24(4):296-302. Epub 2014 Sep 14.
[xiii] Ozen B et al "Vaginal Candidiasis Infection Treated Using Apple Cider Vinegar: A Case Report" Altern Ther Health Med. 2017 Nov 7. Epub 2017 Nov 7.
[xiv] Fushimi T et al "Dietary acetic acid reduces serum cholesterol and triacylglycerols in rats fed a cholesterol-rich diet" Br J Nutr. 2006 May;95(5):916-24.
[xv] Halima B et al "Apple Cider Vinegar Attenuates Oxidative Stress and Reduces the Risk of Obesity in High-Fat-Fed Male Wistar Rats" J Med Food. 2018 Jan;21(1):70-80. Epub 2017 Nov 1.
[xvi] Setorki M et al "Acute effects of vinegar intake on some biochemical risk factors of atherosclerosis in hypercholesterolemic rabbits" Lipids Health Dis. 2010; 9: 10. Epub 2010 Jan 28.