There is so much buzz about apple cider vinegar in the wellness world—sometimes it seems like if you don’t have a bottle stashed in your pantry so that you can take an ACV shot every morning, you’re not really living your healthiest life. There are a huge variety of claims about the many supposed health benefits of ACV, and if you haven’t tried it yet, you might be wondering what you’re missing out on. It’s supposed to help heal your gut health, boost your immunity during cold and flu season, aid digestion, and more. It seems like ACV is a miracle supplement for every condition under the sun, right?
But are all these claims about the benefits of ACV just hype? Or is there really something to it? Sure, there are plenty of people who will sing the praises of ACV, but what does the science say? Let’s dig in to it.
First of all, let’s explore what ACV actually is. It’s quite similar to apple juice, but the addition of yeast turns the fruit sugar into alcohol—this is the product of the fermentation process. Bacteria turns this alcohol into acetic acid, which is the source of vinegar’s strong, sour taste and smell. Acetic acid is also supposed to be behind all of these ACV health benefits. After all, fermented foods are legitimately good for your gut health, and people are all about probiotics these days.
So how ACV stack up against all the purported benefits? There are some promising studies that show that ACV may help with weight loss. In combination with a small daily calorie reduction, consuming ACV on a daily basis can also help further decrease cholesterol. In both of these cases, it’s not just drinking ACV that causes the positive changes—basically, combining ACV with dietary changes has shown to be more effective for weight loss and decreasing cholesterol than dietary changes alone.
Specifically, consuming ACV has been shown to help improve insulin levels in people with Type 2 diabetes. However, this may not be the case for everyone. A study of Type 1 diabetics found that consuming ACV actually made it harder to control blood sugar and slowed digestion, which in turn would make it harder to lose weight. It seems that the effects of ACV on someone’s digestion, blood sugar, and weight might be linked to their individual health and previous medical conditions, so it’s best to keep this in mind if you plan to include it in your diet.
ACV does contain lots of B-vitamins and antioxidants. However, if you feel like you can’t stomach ACV, you’re not going to miss out on those vitamins or antioxidants. Fruits and veggies are packed with antioxidants, and you can get plenty of B-vitamins from staple foods that you probably already have in your pantry, like whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds.
Here’s one benefit of ACV that isn’t as well known: using it on your meals can actually help protect you from food poisoning. Researchers tested a dressing made of ACV and lemon juice on a salad that had been exposed to Salmonella. The dressing decreased the amount of Salmonella to undetectable levels. This doesn’t mean that ACV is a forcefield against food poisoning, but with all these lettuce recalls, it can’t hurt to use a little on your greens if you enjoy the flavor.
So far, researchers have not found anything exceptional about the probiotic benefits of ACV. Eating fermented foods like kimchi and sauerkraut, making sure you get plenty of fiber on a daily basis, and reducing your intake of refined sugar and alcohol, along with taking a probiotic if your doctor recommends it, are your best bets when it comes to improving your gut health. And don’t put too much stock in the bigger claims about anti-cancer properties of ACV—yes, it contains antioxidants, and consuming lots of antioxidants is a great preventative measure against all kinds of diseases. But ACV doesn’t seem to have any exceptional preventative effects.
There is one major drawback of ACV: the negative effects on your teeth. Drinking ACV on a daily basis can erode your tooth enamel, and it can also irritate your throat—after all, it is acidic. If you already have any issues with dental health, stay on the safe side and don’t bother with ACV for now.
In conclusion, if you like using ACV, and you’ve found that it helps you with weight control and maintaining your blood sugar levels, go for it! But if you can’t stand the taste? Don’t bother trying to force it down. It’s not the ultimate key to overall wellness.