8 Reasons to Love Apple Cider Vinegar
By KIM MCDEVITT
The vinegar that typically lives in your kitchen cabinet next to the oils and spices now has a place outside the pantry. Made from fermented organic apples, apple cider vinegar contains a number of health-boosting nutrients, including essential enzymes, potassium, calcium, magnesium and iron .
Be sure to buy a raw, unfiltered, organic apple cider vinegar to reap all of the benefits.
1. It aids in digestion
A main component of gastric fluid, hydrochloric acid (HCL ) is produced in the stomach to break down proteins that we eat. Without enough HCL, we feel discomfort, excessive gas, constipation and indigestion. Acidic foods like apple cider vinegar can help stimulate the production of HCL. For optimal activity, try drinking one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar before a meal or incorporating it into a salad dressing with your meal.
[Video: The Benefits of Drinking Vinegar]
2. It’s a good source of prebiotics
Prebiotics promote the growth of beneficial microorganisms in the intestines, making them an essential factor for optimizing gut health. Within your unfiltered bottle of vinegar you should see a cloudy residue at the bottom of the bottle as well as a cobweb-like congealed substance known as "the mother." It is within this residue and mother that the active prebiotics live.
3. Helps control blood sugar
Preliminary research suggests that apple cider vinegar has the potential to manage your blood sugar. Research participants who combined one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar with eight ounces of water prior to eating had lower and more regulated glucose levels after eating .
Scientists theorize that the acetic acid in apple cider vinegar is responsible for this because it interferes with your body's digestion of starches and increases the metabolism, which results in fewer calories entering your bloodstream.
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4. You can use it as a household cleaner
The antibacterial properties of apple cider vinegar make it a great natural disinfectant and cleaner. Combine one part apple cider vinegar with one part water in a spray bottle. Use the mixture in place of common cleaning sprays and wipes -- from your kitchen to the bathroom -- as a nontoxic, odor-absorbing, all-natural option.
5. Use it as a weedkiller
Apple cider vinegar is just as good outside the house as it is inside. Fill a spray bottle with concentrated apple cider vinegar (not diluted with water) and spray directly on weed-infested areas of your garden.
You can also mix apple cider vinegar with water (adding one ounce of vinegar per gallon of water) and spray as a natural fertilizer, feeding acid-loving plants like gardenias, azaleas and blueberry bushes through their natural growth cycles.
6. It calms itchy skin and soothes scalps
The acidity of apple cider vinegar changes the pH of the scalp and skin, making it harder for yeast and bacteria to grown. For effective results, combine equal parts apple cider vinegar with water in a spray bottle and massage into scalp and let sit for at least one minute (and up to one hour) before rinsing.
For itchy and irritated skin, pour apple cider vinegar onto a cotton ball and rub directly on irritated area. Alternatively, you can take a soothing bath with it: Add one cup of vinegar to warm water and soak for up to 10 minutes.
7. Use it in salad dressings
You can get all the health benefits of apple cider vinegar by incorporating it into a simple and delicious recipe. Salad dressing, while the most common, should not be overlooked. You can combine apple cider vinegar with oil and a little salt and pepper for a simple dressing, or get a little more creative with additional herbs, spices and ingredients -- like the one in this turmeric dressing recipe.
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8. Use it as a baking substitute
Buttermilk, with its characteristic flavor, texture and leavening power, can be easily substituted with apple cider vinegar and nondairy milk in any recipe.
The key to substituting the buttermilk taste and flavor profile is to consider the acid. It's the acid that's responsible for the magic of buttermilk, making apple cider vinegar the perfect addition to a nondairy milk.
To replicate buttermilk, combine one cup of nondairy milk with one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and let stand for five minutes prior to use. Try it out with this brunch recipe:
* 1 1/2 cups all-purpose gluten-free flour
* 2 teaspoons baking powder
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/4 cup coconut oil, solid
* 5 tablespoons cooked quinoa
* 1 tablespoon polenta
* 1/2 cup nondairy milk
* 1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
* 3 tablespoons maple syrup
* 1/4 cup dried berries of your choice (soaked overnight)
1. Preheat oven to 400°F and line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
2. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Rub in the coconut oil until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the quinoa and polenta.
3. In a separate bowl, combine nondairy milk, apple cider vinegar, maple syrup and dried berries. Add in dry ingredients and stir until you get soft dough.
4. Drop 10 spoonfuls of dough onto baking sheet, leaving space between. Smooth out each scone's top.
5. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden and a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool on the baking sheet.
6. Serve with nondairy butter and chia jam.
(For full nutritional information, here is a link to the recipe in MyPlate)
* 1 cup frozen raspberries
* 2 tablespoons chia seeds
* Optional: sweetener, as desired
1. In a small saucepan, combine raspberries and sweetener (if using) over low heat for five minutes or until defrosted.
2. Mash with a fork, then add in chia seeds.
3. Cook for an additional five to 10 minutes or until a jam texture has formed.
4. Place in a jar and refrigerate to set.
For more brilliant ways to use apple cider vinegar, check out this video from LEAFtv:
Readers -- Do you use apple cider vinegar outside of the kitchen? How do you use it in your cooking? Are there any other kitchen ingredients that you use for more than just cooking? Leave a comment below and let us know!
Kim McDevitt, M.P.H., RD, is a Vega educator, runner, cooking enthusiast and plant-focused flexitarian. Kim has passionately built her career in nutrition. Noticing that her running performances were closely tied to what she was eating, Kim decided to study nutrition and pursued advanced degrees in dietetics and public health to better understand the power of food in performance. Today Kim specializes in sports nutrition to enhance athletic performance and focuses on realistic and approachable ways for improving health through educated dietary choices within an active lifestyle.
2. Johnston, CS, Kim, CM, Buller, AJ. 2004. Vinegar improves insulin sensitivity to a high-carbohydrate meal in subjects with insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care. 27: 281-282. Accessed on 11/10/14.