Apple cider vinegar is a store cupboard essential, with many uses in cooking and across the home. However, apple cider vinegar is also a popular home remedy, with people using it to treat a wide range of ailments.
Made by fermenting apples in sugar and filtered water, it's amazing what studies claim it can do.
So just what are the health benefits of apple cider vinegar?
1. Lower blood sugar levels
One of the most studied areas of apple cider vinegar is its effect on high blood sugars, which is of particular interest for those with Type 2 Diabetes. However, high blood sugars can be a contributing factor to chronic diseases and ageing in those without Type 2 Diabetes also. Studies have shown that apple cider vinegar can help to lower both blood sugar and insulin levels.
One study found that apple cider vinegar can lower blood sugars by 35% when consumed after eating 50 grams of white bread. Another study focused on fasting blood sugar, where this level was reduced by 4% when two tablespoons of the vinegar were consumed before bedtime. Other studies have found that vinegar can be helpful in lowering blood sugar after mealtimes.
Due to the effect that apple cider vinegar can have on lowering blood sugar, people who are taking blood-sugar-lowering medication are advised to consult their GP before consuming vinegar.
2. Weight loss aid
Another potential benefit of apple cider vinegar is that it may help with weight loss. One study in obese adults in Japan found that consuming one to two tablespoons of vinegar a day showed a positive effect on weight loss, even when usual diet and activity levels stayed the same.
It is believed that vinegar can help to increase your metabolism, while others theorise that vinegar helps to reduce water retention. Some think the weight loss benefits are due to the vinegar interfering with the digestion of starch, which means fewer calories enter the bloodstream.
3. Heartburn and acid reflux
Certainly more of an anecdotal remedy, rather than a science-backed study. However, some claim that unfiltered apple cider vinegar can help to prevent heartburn. This is likely to be effective for those with low stomach acid. However, those with high stomach acid who take apple cider vinegar may find that their symptoms become worse.
For those with too little stomach acid, sipping warm water with one teaspoon of apple cider vinegar diluted in it before eating can help to promote healthy digestion. Some also add a teaspoon or two of honey to make the drink a little more pleasant.
4. Decongest your nose
Apple cider vinegar may be able to help reduce sinus congestion. It helps to thin the mucus to drain the nose and, therefore, encourage the body to get rid of bacteria and infection. This is because apple cider vinegar has antimicrobial properties, which can help to halt the growth of bacteria.
There are two ways that apple cider vinegar can help in this instance. The first is to sip diluted apple cider vinegar throughout the day until symptoms improve. Alternatively, you can form a nasal rinse solution with a teaspoon of vinegar in a glass of warm filtered water and then using a sinus rinse bottle to help improve your condition.
5. Aid a sore throat
Another potential symptom that apple cider vinegar can help to alleviate is a sore throat. While it cannot magic the symptoms of a sore throat away, apple cider vinegar may help to reduce the duration of a sore throat. The antiviral and antimicrobial properties of the vinegar can help to fight back against the virus or allergy that is causing the sore throat.
As soon as you notice a sore throat, start gargling warm water with apple cider vinegar. You can also add raw honey and lemon to the solution for extra virus-fighting power.
6. Restless legs
If you suffer from restless legs at night or painful cramp, it may be because there is a pH imbalance in your body, or perhaps your body is not metabolising a certain mineral. Apple cider vinegar can help to readdress a pH imbalance so that the body can then metabolise the minerals that can help to keep cramp at bay. One tablespoon of vinegar in a large glass of water can be all you need to improve the symptoms of cramp.
7. Address an upset stomach
While the thought of vinegar may be the last thing you want when you have an upset stomach, it can actually work as a remedy for symptoms of an upset stomach. The apple cider vinegar contains something called acetic acid which can help to reduce bloating and gas, while malic acid in the vinegar has antiviral, antifungal and antibacterial properties which can help to shorten the lifespan of a stomach bug.
Furthermore, apple cider vinegar helps the digestive process by maintaining the body’s correct pH levels and helping to breakdown food.
8. Improve heart health
While not studied with human evidence, animal studies have shown that apple cider vinegar can help to lower cholesterol and other heart disease factors. A study in rats also found that the vinegar can help to reduce blood pressure, which can be a risk factor in heart health.
Currently, there is no science-backed study that shows that apple cider vinegar is proven to improve heart health. There is only anecdotal evidence that women who had salad dressing with vinegar had a reduced risk of heart disease. However, this only shows an association and is not proof.