October 16, 2021

The Health Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar, Backed by Science

Photography by Aya Brackett

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Apple cider vinegar is a popular home remedy. People have used it for centuries in cooking and medicine.

Many people claim it can relieve a wide range of health complaints, but you may wonder what the research says.

Apple cider vinegar has various healthful properties, including antimicrobial and antioxidant effects.

What’s more, evidence suggests it could possibly offer health benefits, such as:

  • aiding weight loss
  • reducing cholesterol
  • lowering blood sugar levels
  • improving the symptoms of diabetes

However, little research exists, and further studies are needed before it can be recommended as an alternative therapy.

This article looks at the evidence behind 6 possible health benefits of apple cider vinegar.

1. High in healthful substances

Apple cider vinegar is made via a two-step process (1).

First, the manufacturer exposes crushed apples to yeast, which ferments the sugars and turns them into alcohol.

Next, adding bacteria further ferments the alcohol, turning it into acetic acid — the main active compound in vinegar.

Acetic acid gives vinegar its strong sour smell and flavor. Researchers believe this acid is responsible for apple cider vinegar’s health benefits. Cider vinegars are 5–6% acetic acid (2).

Organic, unfiltered apple cider vinegar also contains a substance called mother, which consists of strands of proteins, enzymes, and friendly bacteria that give the product a murky appearance.

Some people believe that the mother is responsible for most of its health benefits, although there are currently no studies to support this.

While apple cider vinegar does not contain many vitamins or minerals, it offers a small amount of potassium. Good quality brands also contain some amino acids and antioxidants.

SUMMARY

Apple cider vinegar is made by fermenting the sugar from apples. This turns them into acetic acid, which is a main active ingredient in vinegar and may be responsible for its health benefits.

2. Can help kill harmful bacteria

Vinegar can help kill pathogens, including bacteria (3).

People have traditionally used vinegar for cleaning and disinfecting, treating nail fungus, lice, warts, and ear infections.

Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, used vinegar to clean wounds more than 2,000 years ago.

Vinegar is also a food preservative. Studies show that it inhibits bacteria like E. coli from growing in and spoiling food (345).

If you’re looking for a natural way to preserve your food, apple cider vinegar could help.

Anecdotal reports also suggest that diluted apple cider vinegar could help with acne when applied to the skin, but there doesn’t seem to be any strong research to confirm this.

SUMMARY

The main substance in vinegar — acetic acid — can kill harmful bacteria or prevent them from multiplying. It has a history of use as a disinfectant and natural preservative.

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