While we’ve only started hearing about the power of apple cider vinegar over the last few years, raw organic apple cider vinegar dates back to the days of the pharaohs, where it was documented by Egyptian cultures for its myriad health benefits.
However, although it may have many beneficial properties, you shouldn’t think of it as a silver bullet or miraculous healing solution.
Nevertheless, given its lengthy history – including a mention from Hippocrates, considered the father of modern medicine – it’s likely the health benefits are as steeped in truth as those behind tea. Fads pass quickly, but apple cider vinegar has centuries of supporters giving it the thumbs up.
Why it is effective
Born from the apple – one a day, they say, can keep the doctor away – apple cider vinegar is bursting with beneficial nutrients including phytochemicals such as quercetin – a flavonoid that has been linked to the reduced risk of various health conditions.
Apple cider vinegar is produced when apple juice is fermented into hard apple cider in a process similar to making wine. It is then oxidized, and the alcohol in the hard cider turns to its vinegar state.
In that form, it has been shown in multiple studies to have benefits far beyond flavoring your favorite vinaigrette.
Cider and diabetes
According to some experts, apple cider vinegar may help control blood sugar, lessening the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and helping to alleviate symptoms in those who have already been diagnosed.
Dr. Carol Johnson, director of Arizona State University’s nutrition program, compares the effects of apple cider vinegar on blood sugar to some diabetes medications.
“Apple cider vinegar’s anti-glycemic effect is very well documented,” Johnston told WebMD.com, adding that it blocks the digestion of some carbohydrates, preventing them from elevating blood sugar levels as they are turned into glucose. (Ref. 1)
Heart health boost
With cardiovascular disease reigning as the world’s leading cause of death, natural ways to help control the risk factors that contribute to the disease can go a long way toward lowering those numbers.
In addition to quercetin, apple cider vinegar is rich in acetic acid and chlorogenic acid as well. All of these nutrients have been linked to healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
In several rat studies conducted in Iran, Turkey and Japan, apple cider vinegar has also been shown to help lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels as well as blood pressure, all of which are risk factors that can contribute to heart disease.
Weight loss aid
Studies have shown that supplementing your diet with apple cider vinegar – 2 teaspoons per day added to 16 ounces of water – could help weight loss.
A 2009 study that appeared in the journal Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry found that study participants who consumed acetic acid for 12 weeks saw significant declines in body weight, abdominal fat and waist circumference compared to those who did not supplement with it.
Human studies have shown that vinegar can help you feel full – likely due to its fiber content – making it more likely you’ll eat fewer calories and lose weight.
Helps maintain healthy pH balance
Apple cider vinegar can help promote a healthy alkaline pH balance in the body, important for maintaining optimum health.
Research also shows that lower acid levels lead to higher energy and less risk of infection.
Building better muscles?
As a good source of amino acids, apple cider vinegar might play a role in helping building and repair muscles, so you may get more benefits from your workouts.
It also offers potassium, so not only can apple cider vinegar help alleviate feelings of fatigue during a workout, it can also help muscles heal faster during recovery periods after exercise.
The most important thing to note is that the apple cider vinegar you find at the grocery store is not the same as raw organic apple cider vinegar, which is cloudy and contains what is known as the mother, a collection of cobweb-shaped strands at the bottom of the bottle that contain raw enzymes and good bacteria that can help boost the immune system as well.