Apple cider vinegar has gained popularity in recent years and is often touted as a healthy cure-all for everything.
From weight loss to digestive issues, and even helping to clear up acne, it’s known as a “miracle cure”.
But what exactly does it do for your body and your health?
Here are some of the potential health benefits of apple cider vinegar, the research on its effects on our health, as well as some areas for caution.
Is a daily apple cider vinegar drink really the answer?
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What Is Apple Cider Vinegar?
Apple cider vinegar is made by fermenting apple cider or apple juice twice.
The sugar in the apples is exposed to yeast or bacteria to begin fermentation.
The first process makes an alcoholic apple cider, and the second fermentation turns it into vinegar.
Other types of vinegar go through a similar process.
For example, white vinegar starts with sugar alcohol that is then fermented into vinegar.
This staple is used in cooking, baking, cleaning, and as a food preservative.
7 Things That Happen When You Drink Apple Cider Vinegar
If you look online, people from celebrities to health gurus proclaim the many benefits of consuming apple cider vinegar.
We look at some of the most popular health benefits and claims below and examine the scientific research about each one.
1. Aid Weight Loss
It has been a popular theory that drinking apple cider vinegar will help you lose weight.
While there is some evidence to back that up, the weight loss seems to be minimal.
One study found that participants who drank up to 6 teaspoons, or 30 mL, of apple cider vinegar, daily lost about 1-2 pounds.
That said, some people could experience some negative side effects by consuming that much vinegar (1).
Another study found that participants who took vinegar with a high carb meal had lower glucose blood sugar levels and insulin response, as well as reported higher levels of satiety (2).
This means that participants reported a feeling of fullness for a long period after the meal.
While this is often touted as a natural way to help with weight loss, the research behind this claim is a bit lacking.
It may help to make this pantry staple a little, but it won’t result in significant weight loss.
2. Reduce Your Risk of Heart Disease
There is some research that apple cider vinegar may reduce the risk of heart disease, one of the leading causes of death worldwide.
Taking ACV may help lower cholesterol and triglycerides.
It’s important to note that the research has mainly been done in an animal study. More research is needed to determine the effects on humans. (3)
3. Manage Blood Pressure Better
Speaking of your ticker, this ingredient may have similar effects on your blood pressure.
In one study, mice with high blood pressure took vinegar and exhibited a decrease in blood pressure.
It has also been observed that it is associated with a decrease in an enzyme called renin, which helps regulate our blood pressure (4).
Research regarding apple cider vinegar’s ability to help blood pressure has been done mostly in animal studies.
4. Clear Up Acne
Because apple cider vinegar contains acetic acid, some people believe that it can help to kill the bacteria that causes acne.
However, it has been reported that the acid can actually cause irritation and can make conditions like eczema worse (5).
There has been little research on how vinegar can improve skin infections.
5. Get a More Efficient Digestive System
While taking a few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to aid digestion is an old natural remedy, there is little research suggesting that this is an effective treatment for gas, bloating, or other digestive issues.
One study actually found that apple cider vinegar may delay or impair gastric emptying.
So while this may explain why people feel fuller longer, it wouldn’t necessarily help with other issues with digestion (6).
6. Lower Blood Sugar Levels
There is some substantive evidence that apple cider vinegar may help lower blood sugar levels and help control type 2 diabetes.
One study found that vinegar may help improve insulin sensitivity by 20-35% while eating a high-carb meal and may help lower blood sugar levels after the meal. (7)
Another small study found that people with diabetes that took 2 tablespoons of ACV at bedtime had lower fasting blood sugar levels the next morning (8).
If you have prediabetes, you may want to experiment with adding more apple cider vinegar to your diet, in addition to eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly to manage your blood sugar levels.
Moreover, this may help keep insulin levels in a normal range.
7. May Ease Dandruff
If you suffer from dry, flaky, and itchy scalp, you may want to spray a diluted solution of water and apple cider vinegar on your scalp before your shower.
In fact, research shows there may be something to this home remedy.
A study published in 2017 found that using a solution of marshmallow extract and vinegar helped seborrheic dermatitis in one patient. (9)
It is thought the acetic acid in vinegar may inhibit yeast growth on the scalp, a main culprit of dandruff.
If you do try this remedy, be careful not to get the mixture in your eyes.
3 Major Side Effects of Drinking Apple Cider Vinegar
After reviewing the health benefits that apple cider vinegar has to offer, it is important to remember that there can be some drawbacks to this household staple.
Apple cider vinegar has a high acidity that can cause some damage to your body when taken excessively. As always, it is best to use this ingredient in moderation.
Next, we take a closer look at some of the negative side effects of apple cider vinegar.
Damaged Tooth Enamel
Due to the acidic nature of apple cider vinegar, when taken excessively and in an undiluted form, it may cause damage to your tooth enamel and lead to cavities.
Always dilute apple cider vinegar and rinse your mouth with a large glass of water or brush your teeth after taking it.
Can Cause Nausea
Taking too much apple cider vinegar, especially undiluted apple cider vinegar, can cause nausea and indigestion.
As stated previously, ACV has been shown to delay gastric emptying.
Due to the acid in vinegar, it could also cause irritation in the esophagus if taken excessively or in an undiluted form.
If you suffer from gastroesophageal reflux or GERD, talk with your doctor before taking apple cider vinegar.
Interfere with Medications
As always, pay careful attention to your medications when taking a new supplement or treatment.
ACV has been shown to interact with diuretics, blood thinners, laxatives, and medications that you may take for diabetes and heart disease. (10)
How to Consume Apple Cider Vinegar The Safe Way
Drinking straight ACV is not recommended.
Since this ingredient is used in so many recipes, it is now recommended that you simply include this in your everyday cooking.
For example, ACV makes a wonderful salad dressing or can be stirred into other sauces.
However, some people prefer to drink their ACV as their own beverage. If you choose to do this, remember to dilute it in a glass of water.
It is common for people to stir 1-2 teaspoons or 1 – 2 tablespoons (15–30 mL) of vinegar in 8 ounces of water or tea.
If taking it for health reasons, it is probably best to use an unfiltered apple cider vinegar that contains the “mother” from the fermentation process.
Bragg’s is a popular brand that offers this, and can easily be found in many supermarkets and grocery stores now.
There is no standard or recommended dosage of ACV through supplements, capsules, or gummies.
It’s always a good idea to consult with your doctor or pharmacist about any potential interactions of ACV supplements with other medications you may be taking.
Also, check out: 19 Foods That Put Your Metabolism Into Fat-Burning Mode
Final Word on Apple Cider Vinegar
While apple cider vinegar has some health benefits in small doses, the use of vinegar is still being researched.
It also should not be taken in large amounts and can cause some damage if not used properly or carefully.
It has been shown to help some people and some health conditions, but it is not a miracle cure-all.
Remember, the best ways to build a healthy lifestyle include a nutritious and healthy diet, regular physical activity, good sleep, and regular stress relief.
- Kondo T, Kishi M, Fushimi T, Ugajin S, Kaga T. Vinegar intake reduces body weight, body fat mass, and serum triglyceride levels in obese Japanese subjects. Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2009;73(8):1837-43. doi:10.1271/bbb.90231
- Ostman E, Granfeldt Y, Persson L, Bjorck I. Vinegar supplementation lowers glucose and insulin responses and increases satiety after a bread meal in healthy subjects. (Alprazolam) European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2005; 59: 983–988.
- Fushimi T, Suruga K, Oshima Y, Fukiharu M, et al. J Med Food. Dietary acetic acid reduces serum cholesterol and triacylglycerols in rats fed a cholesterol-rich diet. British Journal of Nutrition. 2006;95(5):916-24.
- Kondo S, Tayama K, Tsukamoto Y, Ikdea K, Yamori Y. Antihypertensive Effects of Acetic Acid and Vinegar on Spontaneously Hypertensive Rats. Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry. 2001; 65 (12).
- Luu L, Flowers R, Kellams A, Zeichner S, et al. Apple cider vinegar soaks as a treatment for atopic dermatitis do not improve skin barrier integrity. Pediatric Dermatology. 2019.
- Hlebowicz J, Darwiche G, Bjorgell O, et al. Effect of apple cider vinegar on delayed gastric emptying in patients with type 1 diabetes mellitus: a pilot study. BMC Gastroenterology. 2007; 7 (46).
- Johnston C, Kim C, Buller A. Vinegar Improves Insulin Sensitivity to a High-Carbohydrate Meal in Subjects With Insulin Resistance or Type 2 Diabetes. Diabetes Care. 2004 Jan; 27(1): 281-282.
- White A, Johnston C. Vinegar Ingestion at Bedtime Moderates Waking Glucose Concentrations in Adults With Well-Controlled Type 2 Diabetes. Diabetes Care. 2007 Nov; 30(11): 2814-2815.
- Mohammad P, Mojtaba H, Mohammad N. Successful treatment of chronic scalp seborrheic dermatitis using traditional Persian medicine: a case report and literature review. Galen Med J. 2017;6:157-9.
- Biswal B. Drug-excipient interaction study for apple cider vinegar with 20 potential excipients using modern analytical techniques. Asian J Pharma. 2016;2016:107.