superfoods

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is nothing new. In fact, it has been used for centuries in cooking and for household and beauty purposes, as well for its wide variety of medicinal benefits. In recent years, apple cider vinegar (also known as ACV) has made a comeback in the world of health and nutrition, and for good reason. This superfood provides some incredible nutritional and healing properties, many of which have been backed by scientific studies. Just a few of ACV’s impressive benefits include weight loss support, blood sugar regulation and treatment of digestive issues, such as heart burn and GERD.

If ACV isn’t already stocked in your kitchen cabinet, it should be! Read on to learn more about this superfood.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Nutritional Information

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

Apple Cider Vinegar Benefits

1. Apple cider vinegar acts as a powerful anti-bacterial agent

ACV has potent anti-bacterial properties, and has traditionally been used to treat infections (such as ear infections, fungal infections and as a topical), to get rid of warts, lice and much more. While most of these remedies have not been scientifically proven, they have been effectively used as folk remedies for many years, and are completely safe. While no specific studies have been done on ACV as an anti-bacterial, we know that vinegar in general works very well as a food preservative, and can prevent the growth of dangerous bacteria such as E-coli (1). Some people even use ACV to treat acne in a solution diluted with water.

2. Apple cider vinegar is an excellent digestive aid

Contrary to popular belief, acid reflux and other common digestive problems are actually a result of too little stomach acid instead of too much stomach acid. Conventional treatment of these conditions involves suppressing stomach acid production, which often worsens the problem over time. ACV (along with fresh lemon juice) stimulates HCL (stomach acid) production, allowing us to more effectively digest our food (particularly proteins). Mix 1-2 tbsp. of ACV in room temperature or warm water, and drink 20 minutes before a meal for digestive support. You might need to start with a bit less at first, and work your way up.

3. Apple cider vinegar can help you lose weight

ACV has been proven to lower blood sugar (more on this in a moment), thus also being useful in supporting weight loss efforts. Interestingly, studies also show that including vinegar with meals (especially carbohydrate-heavy meals) can increase our satiety levels and cause us to eat far less calories (up to 250 calories less in one meal, to be exact) (2). One Japanese study also showed that individuals who consumed vinegar daily over a long period of time lost body mass, waist circumference and experienced lower blood triglyceride levels (3).

4. Apple cider vinegar can lower cholesterol levels

Rat studies have shown that ACV can lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels in the blood, dramatically lowering our risk of cardiovascular disease (4). Furthermore, ACV contains the antioxidant chlorogenic acid, which is thought to prevent LDL cholesterol particles from oxidization, which can also protect us from developing heart disease (5). So, incorporating a habit as simple as using apple cider vinegar in your salad dressings can have some seriously beneficial long term effects.

5. Apple cider vinegar lowers blood sugar levels and helps to treat diabetes

Type 2 diabetes involves the development of extremely high blood sugar levels and insulin resistance, and ACV has been proven to improve this debilitating condition. It also supports any other blood sugar related condition, not only diabetes (blood sugar dips and spikes are common in many people, so most everyone can benefit from taking measures to balance blood sugar). Obviously, a low carb diet model is ideal, but ACV has been proven to improve insulin sensitivity by up to 34% during a high carbohydrate meal (6). Multiple other studies have shown that taking ACV before bed can improve fasting blood sugar, and that vinegar in general improves our blood sugar response to carbohydrates during meals.

Uses of Apple Cider Vinegar

1. Use as a digestive aid before meals

If you struggle with heartburn, acid reflux, or general trouble digesting, try 1 tablespoon of ACV mixed with 4-6 oz. of water, 20 minutes before a meal. This can help promote HCL (stomach acid) production, allowing you to better digest your food, and particularly proteins.

2. Make a chemical free, all purpose household cleaner

Apple cider vinegar makes an excellent and totally safe all purpose clear due to it’s antibacterial properties. Simply mix together 1 part ACV to 1 part water, and include 2-3 drops of your favorite essential oil (optional). You can use this cleaning solution to successfully clean bathrooms, kitchen counters, floors and most other surfaces. If you can small children, this is a great, chemical free alternative.

3. Use in a salad dressing

Instead of balsamic or another kind of vinegar with less medicinal properties, substitute raw apple cider vinegar in any sort of salad dressing. A tasty and quick dressing includes 1-2 cloves of minced garlic mashed together with sea salt, then whisked or shaken together with 1 tbsp. olive oil and 2-3 tbsp. ACV. Adjust the quantities as needed for how much dressing you’d like to make.

4. Use as a hair rinse

Many beauty and cosmetic products are full of potentially dangerous chemicals. And remember, the skin is our biggest organ, so avoiding as many toxins as possible applied to the skin is important for optimal health. ACV is known to remove toxic build-up from your hair and scalp, and is best used in the ratio of 1/3 cup ACV to approximately 4 cups of water. Use this rinse weekly, or if you have dandruff, spray a 1/2 ACV, 1/2 water solution directly to the scalp, and allow to sit for 1 hour, twice per week.

5. Use apple cider vinegar as a tooth-whitening mouth wash

Mix together 1 tbsp. of apple cider vinegar with water, and use as an anti-bacterial mouth wash. ACV can be quite effective in eliminating bacteria of the mouth, and whitening teeth. However, if you have particularly week tooth enamel to begin with, or you notice any sort of decay beginning or worsening, discontinue use. Vinegar is highly acidic, and could potentially cause problems for some.

Possible Side Effects of Apple Cider Vinegar

The good news is, apple cider vinegar is thought to be generally safe if used in normal amounts. While some studies are lacking to back up the many claims found on the vast benefits of ACV, there also appears to be no major side effects of experimentation. However, do consider the following:

  • Irritation: ACV is very acidic, and consuming it in large quantities and/or without diluting it with water will likely cause throat irritation. To prevent this, be sure to dilute the vinegar before use to protect the esophageal wall.
  • Tooth Enamel: Due to the vinegars acidity, too much apple cider vinegar can damage tooth enamel. Dilute the vinegar before use, and speak with your dentist about using this as a natural remedy. When drinking it, use a straw, as this makes a huge difference in preventing tooth decay.
  • Blood Sugar: Since apple cider vinegar can help to lower blood sugar levels (a good thing in many people), those with extremely low blood sugar levels may find using apple cider vinegar problematic. If you have low blood sugar issues, speak to your doctor before use.
  • Potassium Levels: Apple cider vinegar may cause low potassium levels for those taking certain medications like insulin and diuretics (5).
  • Avoid in pill or tablet form: It is best to stick to ACV consumption in foods and beverages. Pills or tablets are questionable in terms of safety, and much more research is needed before these can be deemed safe.

Apple Cider Vinegar FAQs

Q: What is apple cider vinegar good for?

A: Apple cider vinegar is excellent for digestive support, blood sugar management (particularly in type 2 diabetics), lowering cholesterol and triglyceride levels, preventing cardiovascular disease, weight loss and appetite control, and potentially even for preventing certain types of cancer (although more studies are needed). Aside from consumption, ACV makes a great, chemical free alternative to many commonly used health, beauty and household cleaning products.

Q: What is the shelf life of apple cider vinegar?

A: According to the FDA, apple cider vinegar has a shelf life three to five years after the bottling date. Most people who keep their kitchen stocked with ACV feel that the product is safe and usable for an indefinite period if kept out of direct sunlight (6).

Q: What is natural apple cider vinegar?

A: Natural apple cider vinegar differs from distilled or refined vinegars because it is made from fresh and organically grown apples and matured in wood barrels. This process allows for the natural fermentation process to occur, which is the part that is largely responsible for many of ACV’s benefits.

Q: Where should I store my apple cider vinegar?

A: Due to it’s acidic properties, apple cider vinegar does not need to be refrigerated. Store the bottle in a cool, dark place.

Q: Should I dilute my apple cider vinegar?

A: If you plan to drink the vinegar straight, always dilute the vinegar in water to prevent tooth decay and other potential irritation.

Q: What type of apple cider vinegar is best?

If you go to any health food or grocery store, you will likely see various options of ACV, and it’s important to know what to look for. The best type to purchase due to its increased medicinal properties is raw apple cider vinegar. Braggs is by far the most popular and widely used, and can be ordered online or found at most health food stores.

Q: Why does ACV need to be raw? Is that dangerous?

The pasteurization process of vinegar is meant to remove any potentially harmful bacterias. However, this process also kills many of the delicate and important enzymes and nutrients found in ACV that make it a superfood. Raw ACV is considered safe, as the acidity of the vinegar itself naturally kills harmful bacterias. Of course, buying a trusted brand (like Braggs), is a good idea.

Q: I’m pregnant, can I still use ACV in cooking?

Absolutely! ACV is considered totally safe (in food amounts) for pregnant and lactating women.

Q: I hate the taste, what can I do?

No problem, and this is common. ACV has a very acidic taste, so drinking it alone with water can be challenging for some. If using for digestive purposes, it is best to simply take it with a little bit of water, kind of as a shot. That way, it’s over quickly, but the acidic taste itself helps to boost stomach acid production. Aside from this, feel free to mix it with honey to sweeten the taste.

Q: Is ACV gluten free?

Yes, apple cider vinegar is 100% gluten free and safe for those with Celiac Disease and other gluten sensitivities.

 

 




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