6 Health Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar

Apples and apple cider vinegar

For centuries, vinegar has been used for various household and cooking purposes. It is also an ancient folk remedy, claimed to help with all sorts of health problems.

The most popular vinegar in the natural health community is apple cider vinegar. Many people claim that this vinegar has all sorts of beneficial effects… some of which are supported by science. These proven effects include weight loss, lower blood sugar levels, and improved symptoms of diabetes. Here are 6 health benefits of apple cider vinegar that are supported by scientific research.

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6 Health Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar

1. Apple Cider Vinegar is High in Acetic Acid, Which Has Potent Biological Effects

Vinegar is made in a two-step process, related to how alcohol is made (1). The first step exposes crushed apples (or apple cider) to yeast, which ferment the sugars and turn them into alcohol.

In the second step, bacteria are added to the alcohol solution, which further ferment the alcohol and turn it into acetic acid—the main active compound in vinegar. In French, the word “vinegar” actually means “sour wine.”

Organic, unfiltered apple cider vinegar (like Bragg’s) also contains “mother,” strands of proteins, enzymes and friendly bacteria that give the product a murky, cobweb-like appearance.

This is what it looks like:

Unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar With Mother

Some people believe that the “mother” is responsible for most of the health benefits, although there are currently no studies to support this. Apple cider vinegar only contains about 3 calories per tablespoon, which is very low.

There are not many vitamins or minerals in it, but it does contain a tiny amount of potassium. Quality apple cider vinegar also contains some amino acids and antioxidants.

Bottom Line: Apple cider vinegar is made by fermenting the sugars from apples. This turns them into acetic acid, the active ingredient in vinegar.

2. Acetic Acid is a Potent Antimicrobial and Can Kill Some Types of Bacteria

Vinegar can help kill pathogens, including bacteria (2). It has traditionally been used for cleaning and disinfecting, treating nail fungus, lice, warts and ear infections.

However, many of these applications have currently not been confirmed by research. Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, used vinegar for wound cleaning over two thousand years ago.

Vinegar has been used as a food preservative, and studies show that it inhibits bacteria (like E. coli) from growing in the food and spoiling it (3,456).

If you’re looking for a natural way to preserve your food, then apple cider vinegar could be highly useful. There have also been anecdotal reports of diluted apple cider vinegar helping with acne when applied on the skin, but I didn’t find any research to confirm this so take it with a grain of salt.

Bottom Line: The main substance in vinegar, acetic acid, can kill bacteria and/or prevent them from multiplying and reaching harmful levels. It has a history of use as a disinfectant and natural preservative.

3. Apple Cider Vinegar May Lower Blood Sugar Levels, Which is Very Useful For Diabetics

By far the most successful application of vinegar to date, is in patients with type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes is characterized by elevated blood sugars, either in the context of insulin resistance or an inability to produce insulin.

However, elevated blood sugar can also be a problem in people who don’t have diabetes; it is believed to be a major cause of aging and various chronic diseases. So, pretty much everyone should benefit from keeping their blood sugar levels stable.

The most effective (and healthiest) way to do that is to avoid refined carbs and sugar, but apple cider vinegar may also have a powerful effect. Vinegar has been shown to have numerous benefits for insulin function and blood sugar levels:

  • Improves insulin sensitivity during a high-carb meal by 19–34% and significantly lowers blood glucose and insulin responses (7).
  • Reduces blood sugar by 34% when eating 50 grams of white bread (8).
  • 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar before bedtime can reduce fasting blood sugars by 4% (9).
  • Numerous other studies, in both rats and humans, show that vinegar can increase insulin sensitivity and significantly lower blood sugar responses during meals (101112131415).

For these reasons, vinegar can be useful for people with diabetes, pre-diabetes, or those who want to keep their blood sugar levels low to normal for other reasons.

If you’re currently taking blood sugar lowering medications, then check with your doctor before increasing your intake of apple cider vinegar.

Bottom Line: Apple cider vinegar has shown great promise in improving insulin sensitivity and helping to lower blood sugar responses after meals.

4. There Are Some Studies Showing That Apple Cider Vinegar Can Help With Weight Loss

Given that vinegar lowers blood sugar and insulin levels, it makes sense that it could help you lose weight. Several human studies suggest that vinegar can increase satiety, help you eat fewer calories and even lead to actual pounds lost on the scale.

Vinegar along with high-carb meals can increase feelings of fullness and make people eat 200–275 fewer calories for the rest of the day (1617). By reducing calorie intake, this should translate to reduced weight over time.

A study in obese individuals showed that daily vinegar consumption led to reduced belly fat, waist circumference, lower blood triglycerides and weight loss (18):

  • 15mL (1 tablespoon): Lost 2.6 pounds, or 1.2 kilograms.
  • 30mL (2 tablespoons): Lost 3.7 pounds, or 1.7 kilograms.

However, keep in mind that this study went on for 12 weeks, so the true effects on body weight seem to be rather modest. That being said, just adding/subtracting single foods or ingredients rarely has a noticeable effect on weight.

It’s the entire diet/lifestyle that counts; you need to combine several effective methods to see results. Overall, it seems like apple cider vinegar may be useful as a weight loss aid, mainly by promoting satiety and lowering glucose and insulin levels. But it won’t work any miracles on its own.

Bottom Line: Studies suggest that vinegar can increase feelings of fullness and help people eat fewer calories, which can lead to weight loss.

5. Apple Cider Vinegar May Have Some Benefits For Heart Health

Cardiovascular disease (heart disease and stroke) is currently the world’s biggest cause of death (19). It is known that several measurable biological factors are linked to either a decreased or increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

Several of these “risk factors” have been shown to be improved by vinegar consumption, but all of the studies were done with rats. These rat studies showed that apple cider vinegar can lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels (2021).

Apple cider vinegar may also contain the antioxidant chlorogenic acid, which has been shown to protect LDL cholesterol particles from becoming oxidized, a crucial step in the heart disease process (2223).

There are also some studies showing that vinegar reduces blood pressure (a major risk factor) in rats (2425). Unfortunately, what works in animals doesn’t always work in humans.

The only human evidence is an observational study from Harvard showing that women who ate salad dressings with vinegar had a reduced risk of heart disease (26). But this type of study can only show an association, it can not prove that the vinegar caused anything.

Bottom Line: Several animal studies have shown that vinegar can reduce blood triglycerides, cholesterol and blood pressure, but this needs to be confirmed in human studies.

6. Vinegar May be Protective Against Cancer

Cancer is a terrible disease, characterized by uncontrolled growth of cells. There is a lot of hype online about the anti-cancer effects of apple cider vinegar.

Some studies have shown that vinegar can kill cancer cells and shrink tumors (27282930)

However, all of the studies on this were done in isolated cells in test tubes, or rats, which proves nothing about what happens in a living, breathing human.

Additionally, most of the studies were done on rice vinegar, not apple cider vinegar. That being said, some observational studies (which don’t prove anything) have shown that vinegar ingestion is linked to decreased esophageal cancer in China, but increased bladder cancer in Serbia (3132).

Overall, it is possible that apple cider vinegar may help to prevent cancer, but it is definitely premature to make any recommendations based on the current research.

Bottom Line: Some studies in test tubes and rats have shown that rice vinegar can slow the growth of cancer cells and shrink tumors.

Side Effects, Dosage and How to Use it

There are a lot of wild claims about apple cider vinegar on the internet. Some say that it can increase energy levels and have all sorts of beneficial effects on health. Unfortunately, many of these claims are not supported by science.

Of course, absence of proof isn’t proof that something isn’t happening and anecdote often ends up becoming supported by science down the line. That being said, I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for more studies, since research on natural health products like these are both few and far between.

From the little evidence available, I think that apple cider vinegar may be useful and is definitely a good candidate for some self-experimentation if you’re interested in it.

Safe Dosage

At the very least, apple cider vinegar seems to be safe. There are no side effects noted with normal consumption. The best way to incorporate it into your diet is to use it in your cooking—for salad dressings, and that sort of thing.

Some people also like to dilute it in water and drink it as a beverage. Common dosages range from 1–2 teaspoons (5–10 mL) to 1–2 tablespoons (15–30 mL) per day. Definitely don’t go above that, because excess consumption may have harmful effects.

It is also possible to take it in pill/tablet form, but I don’t recommend that because a 2005 study showed that the true vinegar content of these supplements was highly questionable (33).

There is also a report of a woman having an apple cider vinegar tablet stuck in her throat, which led to esophageal burns. It is recommended to use organic, unfiltered apple cider vinegar with the “mother.”

Alternate Uses

Apple cider vinegar also has various other non-health related uses like hair conditioning, skin care, dental care, pet use and as a cleaning agent (to name a few).

These can be highly useful for people who like to keep things as natural and chemical-free as possible. At the end of the day, apple cider vinegar appears to be very healthy.

It’s not a “miracle” or a “cure-all” like some people seem to believe, but it does clearly have some important health benefits, especially for blood sugar and weight control.

This article was originally published on Authority Nutrition.

*This post contains affiliate links. If the product is purchased by linking through this review, VegKitchen receives a modest commission, which helps maintain our site and helps it to continue growing!

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  • Reply
    October 29, 2014 at 12:16 pm


  • Reply
    acupuncture reviews
    December 30, 2014 at 10:11 pm

    it looks very delicious, thanks for sharing !

  • Reply
    April 11, 2015 at 5:45 pm

    I need 2 loss 22 pounds by June do u think drinking apple cider vinegar will help me loss it.

  • Reply
    July 26, 2015 at 4:02 pm

    I think Bragg’s seems best, has 5.14% acetic acid which is more than others. Since it contains chromium it helps reduce blood sugar and improves insulin sensitivity. So good for weight loss and good for reducing diabetes.

  • Reply
    January 2, 2016 at 2:07 pm

    I am now taking advantage of this very helpful product

  • Reply
    February 19, 2016 at 12:57 pm

    How much and how often should I take it?

  • Reply
    Sylvester Truesdell
    July 28, 2016 at 6:48 pm

    Can Apple cider vinegar and help me lose weight by the end of September and how much should I take a day

  • Reply
    Marilyn Alvizo
    September 4, 2016 at 12:53 am


  • Reply
    December 12, 2016 at 10:35 am

    I have high blood pressure, can I drink Apple Cider Vinegar?

  • Reply
    Patti Gilmore
    January 12, 2017 at 6:38 pm

    My Grandmother made an after school drink with
    vinegar and honey–very refreshing on a hot afternoon. Wise lady.

  • Reply
    Linda Harrell
    January 30, 2017 at 4:43 pm

    I tried it today, 2 tbs with a little regular sugar and a glass of water. I really like the taste. I normally drink sweet tea but thought I would give it a try, will stay with it.

  • Reply
    February 4, 2017 at 2:02 pm

    Been taking apple cider vinegar for a few months it has improve my blood sugar and Blood pressure has stabilized better I take it 3 times a day mixed with honey lemon juice and Turmeric has also improve my skin age spots.

  • Reply
    February 7, 2017 at 9:38 am

    I just started this. I’m trying it for weight, high blood pressure and osteoarthritis. I need to loose 70 pounds. I take Turmeric for the arthritis inflammation. Our Son has lost 30 pounds by doing this. Crossing my fingers!

  • Reply
    Dawn Hagen
    February 18, 2017 at 11:10 pm

    I am concerned about my teeth and how this might strip them. If I brush right after I eat (I like putting Apple Cider Vinegar on some of my food) will that be sufficient? I did read that if I am going to put it in a drink to use a straw, that is a Great idea.

  • Reply
    Vicki Miller
    February 20, 2017 at 2:16 pm

    Why does it have to be the brand Bragg?

  • Reply
    Pennie D Morgan
    March 2, 2017 at 10:26 am

    I’m excited to lose weight. And get healthy

  • Reply
    March 28, 2017 at 1:34 pm

    When is the best time to take apple cider vinegar

  • Reply
    Glenn Jobe
    June 5, 2017 at 12:17 pm

    I have been drinking green tea (1 cup)once or twice a day for about 3 or 4 weeks. I add 1 teaspoon of honey. I have lost 18 lbs. but I can’t tell it has done anything for my blood sugar. As a matter of fact my blood sugar has increased some but that could be due to my diet which I have not been paying close attention to carbs.

  • Reply
    Marguerite Moore
    August 6, 2017 at 3:59 pm

    I would like the help with apple cider vinegar to lose weight, however I need to know if there is any danger health wise that I need to be concerned with.

  • Reply
    August 11, 2017 at 5:11 pm

    I drink green tea just making sure I can put apple cider vinegar and honey in it as a drink

  • Reply
    Kausar khan
    January 6, 2018 at 9:26 am

    Can acv cure thyroid

  • Reply
    Lisa Jensen
    March 27, 2018 at 1:32 pm

    Has raw vinegar caused Strep Troat?

  • Reply
    Harvey Lee
    July 24, 2018 at 3:37 am

    Apple cider vinegar is very beneficial for health and skin care. The apple cider vinegar diet is a probiotic, and has many additional health benefits, and can assist in weight loss and well-being. Thanks for sharing the great article.

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