More than likely your parents had a bottle of apple cider vinegar in the pantry as a kid, and even more likely you never saw it get used once in your life. With most recipes that call for ACV including homemade salad dressings, dips and slow cooked meats, it is an easily forgettable ingredient that hasn’t historically made any dish that much better. But little did our younger selves know, this sour, seemingly useless substance might be one of the most beneficial for us inside and out!
First discovered thousands of years ago when grapes were forgotten in a container, broke down into wine and then vinegar, it was quickly discovered that this substance could preserve foods. A little bit farther down the timeline of our ancestors, in the 1700s, doctors would use vinegar from fermented apples to cure rashes, stomach pains and eventually even diabetes. It was said Hippocrates used vinegar to sterilize and heal wounds. By fermenting most any type of carbohydrates (from grapes to coconuts to potatoes to of course apples), the resulting liquid becomes very acidic and rich in healthy substances such as acetic acid, gallic acid, catechins, and many antioxidants. Read on to learn about the amazing health benefits of consuming apple cider vinegar and how you can best add it to your diet!
Apple Cider Vinegar Benefits
Some might be asking, why is ACV the topic of discussion here instead of regular white vinegar? For one simple reason, where they originated from. White vinegar comes from grains and is strained till almost all impurities are gone. Which makes it very good for cleaning and getting out stains on clothes, but when it comes to health benefits for us they just aren’t there. In comes apple cider vinegar, which is fermented from, you guessed it, crushed apples. And anybody who knows the saying “an apple a day” would be correct to assume that just as many unique benefits come with ACV. Besides a (slightly) more bearable taste, ACV contains many types of beneficial acids and antioxidants that our body needs. The rule of thumb for healthfulness is all in the straining, as the more clear an ACV is, the less health benefits it contains. What you want to look for a cloudy, all natural ACV with something called “the mother” still inside. The mother refers to strands of amino acids and enzymes that provide most of the antioxidants, friendly bacteria and many healthy acids.
The main compound found in ACV that we can benefit from is called acetic acid, the component that creates the sour taste of vinegar. Before we even knew that this acid existed, we somehow knew that it could be used to benefit those with diabetes. By slowing the digestion (and sometimes impairing the digestion) of complex carbohydrates, the blood sugar response from a meal will be significantly lowered if two tablespoons of ACV is consumed prior. This also results in a quicker insulin response to lower the amount of blood sugar in the bloodstream. Even those without diabetes can reap this benefit, possibly aiding in weight loss by increasing your insulin sensitivity.
Another type of acid known as chlorogenic acid can help our heart health. We aren’t quite sure why, but this polyphenol has been shown in animal studies to stop the oxidation of LDL (the bad cholesterol) which could lead to heart disease, heart attacks and or strokes. A different study also found that the acids in ACV can even lower blood pressure a slight but noticeable amount.
Adding to the weight loss benefits, ACV when taken before a meal can help suppress your appetite, increase your metabolism and unconsciously help you eat less over time. But of course this won’t do all the work for you. For those who count their calories and know that a deficit of about 300-500 calories a day will result in healthy weight loss, ACV can help buffer any margin of error made when tracking. Sometimes calorie counting apps aren’t 100% accurate and sometimes eating out can make a food much higher in calories depending on how they cook and prepare it. This is where most if not all weight loss supplements/ingredients should be used, to help make sure that a controlled calorie deficit is sustained.
While topical uses aren’t as reliable as internal uses, many claim ACV is quite effective for cleaning hair as well as getting rid of dandruff. For your face it has been said that ACV can help reduce acne, bruises and warts. But I warn against this for anybody with sensitive skin as the acid can burn your skin and possibly make things worse. The same goes for oral uses, which can be a double edged sword. On one hand, ACV has been said to whiten teeth, eliminate bad breath and heal a sore throat. But on the other hand, when not properly diluted the acid can actually damage your tooth enamel and burn your mouth/throat permanently.
Take Home Message
When it comes to benefits/downsides, there is no competition. Apple cider vinegar has a plethora of health benefits we know about and more than likely some we still have yet to discover. What is important to note is that when mixed with food as either a sauce, soup or dressing, the taste isn’t that bad. But when taken by itself (recommended two tablespoons mixed with 8-12 ounces of water), the taste is not pleasant at all. It should never be consumed by itself for the aforementioned reasons of physical damage to your mouth, but when mixed with a glass a water the acidity is enough to bare.
While it might take some getting used to, but along with some nose pinching and chugging it isn’t too difficult to drink it all down. Two tablespoons a day should be your limit, but one will still give you moderate benefits. Anything more could possibly raise your stomach acidity too high and lead to the negative reactions in your body outweighing the positives. And now you are just a little bit smarter! Thank you for reading to the end and I hope you learned something valuable.