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Created for Greatist by the experts at Healthline. Read more
Anyone on #WellnessInstagram will tell you: Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is a whole mood. So why is everyone so obsessed with it?
Apple cider vinegar is made from fermented apples, and its main active ingredient is acetic acid.
Acetic acid is the reason for ACV’s rise to fame as a wellness darling. Animal studies point to tons of its benefits:
- Lowers blood sugar: A 2005 study on rats showed that acetic acid improved the capacity of the liver and muscles to take in sugar from the blood.
- Decreases insulin levels: That same study found that acetic acid decreased the ratio of insulin to glucagon.
- Boosts metabolism: A 2006 study on mice showed that exposure to acetic acid increased certain enzyme levels and increased fat burning.
- Suppresses appetite: A 2014 study found that acetate might help suppress the parts of your brain that control your appetite.
- Reduces fat storage: Research in 2016 found that treatment with acetic acid or acetate prevented rats with high body weight and diabetes from gaining weight.
- Burns body fat: In a 2009 study, researchers fed mice a high-fat diet supplemented with acetic acid and saw an increase in genes that facilitate fat burning.
It’s exciting stuff! But more research needs to be done on humans to back it all up.
Apple cider vinegar might decrease your appetite and help you feel full longer.
One small 2005 study with 11 participants found that those who took vinegar with a high carb meal had a 55 percent lower blood sugar response after eating. They also took in 200 to 275 fewer calories for the rest of the day.
Another small study from 1998 showed that when taken with a starch-heavy meal, vinegar slowed down the process of stomach emptying. This led to lower blood sugar, lower insulin levels, and a longer-lasting feeling of fullness.
When to block ACV from your feed
Gastroparesis, or delayed stomach emptying, is a type 1 diabetes complication that ACV can make worse. Peeps with T1D, proceed with caution!
The internet loves to gush about using apple cider vinegar for weight loss. If weight loss is a goal for you, ACV can have an effect on both weight and body fat.
Wanting to lose weight is fine, but remember — you’re a perfect ray of #WokeUpLikeThis awesomeness just as you are. That said, here’s the DL:
A Japanese study from 2009 divided a group of adults with obesity into three groups. For 12 weeks, one group took 1 tablespoon (15 milliliters) of ACV each day, the second group took 2 tablespoons (30 milliliters) of ACV, and the third group took a placebo.
The average benefits observed from the first group (who consumed 1 tablespoon of ACV per day) were:
- 2.6 pounds of weight lost
- 0.7 percent decrease in body fat
- 0.5-inch decrease in waist circumference
- 25 percent decrease in triglycerides
The average benefits for the second group (who consumed 2 tablespoons of ACV per day) were:
- 3.7 pounds of weight lost
- 0.9 percent decrease in body fat
- 0.75-inch decrease in waist circumference
- 26 percent decrease in triglycerides
The placebo group gained an average of 0.9 pounds, and their waist circumference increased slightly.
Only a few human studies have looked into ACV’s relationship to weight loss, so while this study is significant, we need more research to feel great about it.
In another 2009 study, mice were fed a high fat, high calorie diet for 6 weeks. Similarly to the human study, they were divided into three groups: a group that received a low dose of ACV, a group that received a high dose of ACV, and a control group.
At the end of 6 weeks, the group receiving a high dose of ACV had gained 10 percent less fat than the control group. They’d also gained 2 percent less fat than the group that received a lower dose of ACV.
These results are pretty rad, but we’ll need more conclusive info before breaking out the ticker tape.
Weight loss is just the tip of the iceberg. Apple cider vinegar is also linked to:
- Improved insulin sensitivity. A 2004 study on people who had insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes found that consuming ACV with a high carb meal improved insulin sensitivity by 34 percent.
- Improved symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). A small study of women with PCOS found that among participants who took 15 grams of ACV each day for 90 to 110 days, 57 percent of them resumed ovulating. This is probably because of increased insulin sensitivity.
- Fewer bacteria and viruses. Vinegar is known to fight bacteria, including some that can lead to food poisoning, like the notorious and gnarly E. coli. A 2003 study found that vinegar reduced amounts of some bacteria on strawberries by 90 percent and some viruses by a whopping 95 percent.
- Decreased cholesterol. A 2008 study on rats with and without diabetes found that ACV increased HDL cholesterol (the “good” kind) and reduced LDL cholesterol (the “bad” kind) and triglycerides.
- Lower blood pressure. A 2001 study on rats suggested that vinegar could decrease blood pressure by inhibiting the enzyme that constricts blood vessels.
- Lower fasting blood sugar. A 2007 study conducted on people with type 2 diabetes found that those who took ACV with a high protein nighttime snack experienced twice as much of a decrease in fasting blood sugar as those who didn’t.
ACV can have some not-so-fun side effects. It can leave some people feeling like 🤢, with nausea and indigestion. Be sure you’re staying within the recommended dose to avoid more intense side effects.
ACV may have negative interactions with diabetes medications, like the blood potassium lowering drug digoxin (lanoxin), and diuretics that cause your body to excrete potassium.
The most popular way to consume apple cider vinegar is to drink it mixed with water. The recommended dosage to support weight loss is 1 to 2 tablespoons (15 to 30 milliliters) per day, mixed into a hefty glass of H2O.
If that’s not working for you, there are other options. Some people like to mix it with olive oil to use it as a salad dressing, and others like to use it for pickling veggies.
You can cook with it!
If you can’t stand the taste of straight-up ACV, try cooking with it instead.
- Slow-cooked cider beans: Imagine eating these beans alongside a hot dog at a backyard barbecue. Match 👏 made👏 in👏 heaven.
- Creamy vegan queso dip: For the queso lovers. You’re welcome.
- Baby kale, butternut squash, and chicken salad with cider dressing: This yummy salad can boost your energy through the roof.
Last but not least, you can always pop a supplement. Research is super limited on the effectiveness of ACV supplements, so it’s unclear if they provide the same health perks as the liquid form.
The FDA doesn’t regulate supplements, so it’s difficult to know exactly how much ACV is in each pill and whether they contain unlisted ingredients. Injuries such as burned throats from ACV pills have been reported.
If you’re going to take ACV pills, it’s probs a good idea to consult a healthcare provider to evaluate the risks and compatibility with your health situation.
Not all apple cider vinegar batches are created equal. Here are some deets that can vary based on brand.
Some apple cider vinegar says “made with the mother.” This simply means it’s unrefined, unpasteurized, and unfiltered. The mother is a colony of healthy bacteria, similar to the SCOBY found in kombucha.
The mother looks like a brown or white, fibery fluff. It sounds gross, but it’s full of healthy bacteria, enzymes, and proteins. Some people believe that the majority of ACV’s benefits come from the mother, but this hasn’t been confirmed with research.
Organic apple cider vinegar is unpasteurized, and the mother is left inside. Nonorganic apple cider vinegar is pasteurized and sold without the mother.
Apple cider vinegar itself is made entirely from apples, but some bottles of ACV have preservatives or added flavors.
Most apple cider vinegar will have an acidity of 5 percent. Make sure you dilute it with water so you don’t burn your throat!
Let’s be honest with ourselves: ACV kinda tastes strange. But if all this science is correct, then it’s worth it.
ACV tends to be sold in either glass or plastic containers.
Experts suggest 1 to 2 tablespoons (15 to 30 milliliters) of liquid apple cider vinegar per day. Just make sure to dilute it with water first! Space it out into 2 or 3 doses throughout the day, and aim to drink it before meals.
There’s no standard dose for apple cider vinegar pills since there hasn’t been enough research on them.
- Animal studies have shown that acetic acid, the star ingredient in apple cider vinegar, might reduce appetite, boost your metabolism, and improve your blood sugar. But more research needs to be done on humans.
- ACV may decrease your appetite and therefore reduce the amount of calories you take in each day.
- ACV has other health perks, like lowering blood pressure, cholesterol, and fasting blood sugar, and it improves insulin sensitivity.
- To enjoy ACV’s health benefits, take 1 to 2 tablespoons per day, divided into 2 or 3 doses.