What Is Apple Cider Vinegar?
Apple cider vinegar, otherwise known as cider vinegar or ACV, is a type of vinegar made from apple and has a pale to medium amber colour.
Organic (unpasteurised) vinegar contains mother of vinegar - a natural sediment which contains beneficial bacteria, trace material, pectin and enzymes.
Which Apple Cider Vinegar Should I Buy?
Nutritional Therapist Catherine Arnold told The Huffington Post UK: “Traditionally, apple cider vinegar undergoes a long fermentation process which makes it rich in antimicrobial, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory properties.
“Always choose an unpasteurised, unfiltered, organic apple cider vinegar with ‘mother’ to ensure you are getting one with all the benefits of fermentation.”
Does Apple Cider Vinegar Have Health Benefits?
British Dietetic Association [BDA] spokesperson and dietitian, Aisling Pigott, told HuffPost UK: “Health claims around cider vinegar are not currently recognised or supported by the British Dietetic Association due to insufficient evidence... although it can make a tasty salad dressing.”
But others have claimed that it can be helpful for the following reasons:
Susan Curtis, Natural Health Director at Neal’s Yard, said: “Vinegar is also a powerful cardiovascular protective compound through its effects on lipids, cholesterol, and blood pressure. A 2006 animal study found that acetic acid had ‘significantly lower values for serum total cholesterol and triacylglycerol’ as well as having other health benefits.”
“In a human study a reduced risk of fatal ischemic heart disease was observed amongst participants who ate vinegar and oil salad dressings frequently, while animal studies have shown a lowering of blood pressure.”
Neal’s Yard recommend apple cider vinegar to alleviate the pains of arthritis.
“Apple cider vinegar and honey is a traditional remedy for arthritis as the overall effect of apple cider vinegar and honey is alkalizing.”
BDA spokesperson Pigott said: “There were some studies done in the 1980’s, which demonstrated that cider vinegar was helpful for arthritis in rats. There is insufficient evidence to suggest it is helpful in humans at present.”
“Promoting healthy flora in the gut may help with eczema,” said Arnold “although there is no research that I could find to back this up. However, I have seen improvements in my clients with eczema when we optimise gut health. So either take it as above to improve gut health, or use it topically.”
Type 2 Diabetes
Curtis says: “It has also been shown to benefit those suffering from or at risk for type-2diabetes, as well as benefit healthy individuals. It is likely that the acetic acid in vinegar may prevent the complete digestion of complex carbohydrates by either delaying gastric emptying or by increasing the uptake of glucose by tissues resulting in reduced blood glucose levels.”
Is Apple Cider Vinegar Good For Digestion?
Many people claim that the fermentation of apple cider vinegar means it contains useful probiotic bacteria which can contribute to healthy flora in the human gut.
Katie Clare, a nutritional therapist told The Huffington Post UK: “Apple cider vinegar helps with the gastric phase of digestion - the acidity in it supporting our stomach acid to break down foods, particularly proteins. People like to drink a little in hot water before meals, it can also be nice to add cinnamon, lemon and/or turmeric to it to make a little tonic.
Nutritionist Francesca Mastrojanni, told HuffPost UK: “Apple cider vinegar is beneficial for digestion as it can promote production of stomach acid which is necessary for breaking down proteins. Taken 15-20 minutes before a meal it can stimulate digestion, and in cases where gastro-oesophageal reflux is caused by a lack of stomach acid rather than an excess of it, apple cider vinegar can help relieve these symptoms.”
Arnold said: “As a nutritional therapist I often recommend it to clients who I suspect have low hydrochloric acid levels in the stomach.”
But if you have suffered with stomach ulcers then exercise caution and avoid apple cider vinegar, advises Mastrojanni. “Equally, if you suffer from severe heartburn or stomach pains,” she adds, “check with your doctor to rule out any ulceration before starting regular use of apple cider vinegar.”
BDA spokesperson Pigott explained to HuffPost UK: “There are insufficient research trials on humans which clearly demonstrate this. Whilst anecdotally, some people may find this helpful, most people may find it worsens digestion/reflux because of acidity.”
What Else Can I Use Apple Cider Vinegar For?
Anyone who has a bottle of apple cider vinegar in the cupboard will know that it has a wide ranging variety of uses. And if you don’t, here’s a few...
1. Vegetable Wash
Catherine Arnold said: “Vinegar may help remove pesticides from vegetables. Soak them in a solution of 90% water to 10% vinegar, then rinse thoroughly.”
2. Blood Sugar Balance
Arnold said: “A 2004 study found that taking apple cider vinegar before meals improves insulin sensitivity – reducing the glucose and insulin spike after a meal, effectively keeping blood sugar balanced.”
“A 2007 study on people with type 2 diabetes found that taking 2 tbsp of apple cider vinegar before bed lowered blood sugar levels by 4-6% by the morning.”
3. Mosquito Bites
Arnold said: “Dab on apple cider vinegar to help take away the ‘itch’.
4. Makeup Remover
Use a small amount of apple cider vinegar on a cotton pad to remove your make up in a natural way.
“Use as an effective antimicrobial gargle for a sore throat or to support oral hygiene as a mouth wash. Mix 3 tbsp of apple cider vinegar with water and gargle/swish around your mouth – ensuring you spit it out afterwards,” says Arnold.
Susan Curtis says: “Try using it as a hair rinse to wash away product build-up or steep a generous sprig of rosemary in vinegar overnight (or simply add a few drops of rosemary essential oil) and use it to help combat dandruff.”