Apple cider vinegar — made from crushed, distilled and fermented apples — has been touted for helping with weight loss and containing antibiotic qualities. But many of these claims have not been medically proven and caution should be taken with apple cider vinegar interactions with medications.
Apple Cider Vinegar Benefits
Fans of apple cider vinegar claim that it has numerous health benefits, including the ability to lower blood pressure and cholesterol, help with heartburn and be a factor in weight loss. Some believe that drinking a small amount before meals helps curb appetite and burn fat. Apple cider vinegar contains acetic acid, which has been found to reduce absorption of starches and slow digestion, which can lead to a sensation of a full stomach.
But the Mayo Clinic states outright that apple cider vinegar isn't likely to be effective for weight loss, citing a lack of scientific support for these claims. Studies of apple cider vinegar for weight loss, mostly done on mice, also have not borne out the weight loss belief. Likewise, apple cider vinegar antibacterial properties have not yet been proven.
There is also some claim that apple cider vinegar, because it is a fermented food, may aid in restoring the gut after taking a course of antibiotics, although it is not considered a true probiotic. It is important to note that apple cider vinegar should not be taken in place of antibiotics.
Apple Cider Vinegar Uses
Pick up a bottle of apple cider vinegar and you may see words like "raw," "unfiltered" and "the mother". Apple cider vinegar is essentially made from fermented apples and it has a faint apple flavor. Regardless of whether apple cider vinegar has any proven health benefits, it adds a unique flavor to vinaigrettes for salad. It is also called for in numerous baking recipes, especially those that do not use eggs.
You can easily make your own apple cider. Fill a sterilized quart jar with clean apple peels and cores or apple scraps. Fill the jar with filtered water to completely cover the apples. Cover the filled jar with a circle of muslin cloth or coffee filter and secure it with a rubber band. Place the jar out of direct sunlight in a warm place.
After two weeks, strain out the apple scraps and pour the liquid into a clean quart jar. Cover as you did again with cloth or coffee filter and a rubber band; store on a pantry shelf. After another four weeks the fermentation process should be complete, with a residue inside the bottom of the jar and a tangy taste to the vinegar (it may need to sit longer). When finished, cap the jar and store in a cool dark place.
Read More: Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar and Weight Loss
Apple Cider Vinegar Side Effects
When it's consumed in large quantities, apple cider vinegar should be diluted. Vinegar's high acidity can damage tooth enamel when sipped straight from the bottle; it's better to use it as a drink made with water or in a salad dressing.
Other side effects of ingesting a lot of vinegar, according to Harvard Health Publishing, can be that it causes lower potassium levels. If you take diuretics, such as in blood pressure medication, you should be particularly careful about eating too much vinegar. In addition, vinegar can potentially alter insulin levels, which is especially concerning to diabetics.
As a topical application, the National Capital Poison Center cautions against using it to treat wounds and states that it is not effective at inhibiting the growth of many bacteria that cause wound infections.
Vinegar may exacerbate acid reflux, and if you have chronic kidney disease, your kidneys may not be able to process the excess acid that comes along with drinking apple cider vinegar. Another side effect of drinking too much vinegar is that it could cause or worsen nausea.
In general, it's best to speak with your doctor before consuming large quantities of apple cider vinegar — particularly if you are already taking medication.
- University of Chicago Medicine: "Debunking the Health Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar"
- National Capitol Poison Center: "Vinegar, Not Just for Salad"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Apple Cider Vinegar… for Heartburn?"
- Harvard Health Publishing: Apple Cider Vinegar Diet: Does it Really Work?"
- Mayo Clinic: Drinking Apple Cider Vinegar for Weight Loss Seems Far-Fetched. Does it Work?"
- Harvard School of Public Health: "Vinegar"
- Penn State Extension: "Making Cider Vinegar at Home"