Apple cider vinegar — popularly referred to as ACV — is one of the most widely recognized plant-based natural remedies. Many people swear by its magical powers! It all stems from the main ingredient — nutrient-dense apples — and the fermentation process, which results in apple cider vinegar. Apples are rich in vitamins A, C, K, and folate, as well as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and natural sugar. Plus, apples are a rich source of a special type of fiber called pectin, which is great for your digestive system and gut health. What does apple cider offer health benefit-wise? Take your pick! From lowering your cholesterol to reducing belly fat, apple cider vinegar has worked wonders since ancient times.
With that said, with the surge in popularity comes a surge in miseducation. While ACV is very healthy, there are safe ways to consume this highly acidic beverage without causing damage or further health issues.
Want to know how you should consume ACV to absorb all its incredible benefits? Keep reading!
What is Apple Cider Vinegar?
Apple cider vinegar is a truly simple product: apples, sugar, and water. Take these three ingredients, add them together, and allow them to ferment. Yes, that’s right, ACV is one of those wonderfully fermented products that you hear buzzing around the health world.
In more scientific terms, “apple cider vinegar is a liquid produced during the fermentation of apple cider,” in which “the sugar in apples is fermented by yeast and/or bacteria added to the cider, which then turns it into alcohol and, finally, into vinegar.” Apple cider vinegar is rich in acetic acid, “lactic, citric, and malic acids, and bacteria.”
There are many benefits — both for the body and for your home — in consuming and using apple cider vinegar. From a natural preservative to aiding in weight loss, let’s dive in and get to know a bit more about apple cider vinegar!
How is Apple Cider Vinegar Different?
Apple cider vinegar not only has more health benefits than other kinds of vinegar — think distilled white, white wine, and red wine vinegar — but it’s also used in more creative ways.
One of the main differences is that apple cider vinegar is an “unfiltered product which is brownish to yellow in color … [and] … it contains what they call ‘mother of vinegar’ which is responsible for most of its health benefits.”
While apple cider vinegar is most popularly consumed (as well as used as a natural beauty product), “commercial or distilled clear vinegar is … made from ethanol or laboratory-produce acetic acid and then mixed or diluted with water,” making it better for natural cleaning products or used for pickling instead of consuming. This rings true for white vinegar as well which is “mainly used in house cleaning, cooking, and food preservation,” along with other varieties which are “used mainly for salad dressings and baking.”
Apple cider vinegar is the only vinegar generally consumed raw and with such a long list of health benefits. It’s far more versatile and is super easy to make at home!
Health Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar
When it comes to apple cider vinegar, the list of purported health benefits is long and robust. Yet, how many of these are substantiated by science? For instance, many people swear by ACV for treatment of their heartburn, yet it was discovered that ACV can make heartburn worse when used long-term. How do you decide whether ACV is right for your diet regarding health benefits? Here are a few science-substantiated health benefits of ACV to help you out!
Kills Harmful Bacteria
Vinegar is an ancient tool for wound cleaning — documented in use over two thousand years ago — due to its ability to kill pathogens. Apple cider vinegar shares this special ability with other types of vinegar. This is what makes ACV such a great natural ingredient for “cleaning and disinfecting” mixtures, but, due to its all-natural design, it can also be used for “treating nail fungus, lice, warts, and ear infections.”
Outside of the body, vinegar can be used to preserve food with studies showing “that it inhibits bacteria (like E. coli) from growing in food and spoiling it.
Lowers Blood Sugar
When it comes to the health benefits of apple cider vinegar consumption, the most promising is in type 2 diabetes patients. In particular, apple cider vinegar (as well as other types of vinegar) has been shown to have incredibly positive effects on both blood sugar and insulin levels, two main factors in the development of pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes. ACV has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity and insulin responses while also “significantly [lowering] blood sugar” levels. This has been deduced through, ACV’s ability to “lower blood sugar levels after meals.”
Aids in Healthy Weight Management
If you’re looking to lose a bit off your waistline or are simply trying to manage a current healthy weight, apple cider vinegar may be the ticket to help you achieve either of these goals!
First off, vinegar has been shown to “increase satiety,” which helps you “eat fewer calories and lead to actual pounds lost on the scale.” A study performed at Lund University in Sweden found that if “people take vinegar along with a high-carb meal, they get increased feelings of fullness and end up eating 200–275 fewer calories for the rest of the day.”
Along with promoting satiety, apple cider vinegar aids in weight loss by the aforementioned blood sugar and insulin level-stabilizing effects. When the body’s blood sugar and insulin levels are working appropriately to use and distribute glucose, then it’s easier to maintain a healthy weight or lose unwanted pounds.
Consuming and Cooking with Apple Cider Vinegar
You may be geared up and ready to get apple cider vinegar into your diet and rightfully so! Before buying that bottle of apple cider vinegar, pouring it into a glass, and drinking it, it’s important to understand that there is a safe way and safe quantities in which to consume your ACV. While ACV has many health benefits, some downsides can be circumvented by proper ACV practices.
How to Safely Consume ACV
First off, it’s important to dilute apple cider vinegar with water to avoid the acidic shock it can have on your stomach and esophagus. Depending on why you are consuming apple cider vinegar — blood sugar, weight loss, heart health, etc. — the amount of ACV versus water will change. Healthline has provided a wonderful guide to help you deduce the appropriate dosage amounts regarding the health benefits you wish to gain.
It’s also important to note that the acidity levels in ACV can “damage tooth enamel with regular use,” therefore diluting with water, drinking through a straw, and rinsing your mouth after consuming ACV are all important steps. On top of that, if you consume large amounts of ACV (let’s say 8 ounces) daily for years, it can cause low blood potassium levels and osteoporosis.
One of the best ways to consume ACV is via recipes, where the acidity is subdued by other nutrient-rich ingredients.
How to Make Your ACV
While you can easily buy organic apple cider vinegar at any grocery store these days — it’s a hugely popular mainstream food item — it’s also super easy to make your own! Plus, this gives you total control over the quantity and quality of all the ingredients. All you need is three ingredients: organic apples, raw organic sugar, and filtered water. Get yourself a wide-mouthed gallon jar, breathable cloth (such as cheesecloth), and a rubber band. Essentially, all it takes is some slicing and dicing, mixing, and waiting. It will take about a week for the cider to fully ferment and then you’re ready to start using!
How to Cook with ACV
The safest way to consume apple cider vinegar is through cooking. By mixing this liquid with other ingredients, you dull the powerful and harmful effects that the high acidity may have on sensitive systems. Plus, there are countless ways that apple cider vinegar can be enjoyed when it comes to cooking! Integrate it into beverages such as this Real Vitality Tonic or this Peach and Lemongrass Shrub. Create delicious desserts such as these Unicorn Chocolate Cupcakes, these Green Tea Donuts With Crunchy Coconut Glaze, or this Tri-Layer Chocolate Cheesecake. Bake it into a recipe such as this Healthy Banana Bread. Even use it as an integral ingredient for texturizing and flavoring complex dishes such as this Mushroom Fettuccine Alfredo or this Roasted Cauliflower and Sweet Potato Salad.
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