The Effectiveness of Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar, a staple ingredient in many healthy kitchens, is claimed to be useful for weight loss, lowering blood sugar and cholesterol levels, and treating everything from dandruff to acne. But while some of these claims are supported by scientific research, others are not. It’s also important to note that vinegar is very acidic and can damage tooth enamel, so it should always be used in moderation.

The main active compound in apple cider vinegar is acetic acid, which has been shown to kill bacteria and inhibit their growth. Vinegar has long been used as a natural preservative and cleaning agent. Some lab studies have found that undiluted apple cider vinegar can help reduce blood triglycerides, cholesterol and blood pressure in animals, but similar results from human studies have been mixed.

Some of the health benefits touted for apple cider vinegar are linked to its ability to lower blood glucose (sugar) levels after a meal, but more extensive studies are needed before these findings can be confirmed in humans. However, a 2021 study did find that daily consumption of 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar could improve glycemic control in people with type 2 diabetes, suggesting that the vinegar may play a role in preventing high blood glucose levels after meals. (1)

Another popular use of apple cider vinegar is to promote good digestion by helping break down food in the stomach. ACV is believed to work as a natural remedy for indigestion and has even been shown to reduce bad breath, thanks to its antibacterial properties.

Vinegar is also often used to make foods taste more flavorful. It can be added to salad dressings, soups, sauces and even used in hot beverages, such as tea or coffee. It’s also an easy and inexpensive way to add some tanginess to bland canned foods, like beans or corn.

While some people use diluted apple cider vinegar as a mouthwash, there’s no scientific evidence that it can help remove plaque or whiten teeth. However, some anecdotal reports have suggested that diluted apple cider vinegar can be used to treat mild cases of dandruff. The acetic acid in apple cider vinegar is thought to help rebalance the skin’s natural pH and improve the protective barrier against moisture, making it more effective than some harsher commercial products (2, 3).

If you want to try using apple cider vinegar for its health benefits, the best option is to buy an organic variety that has been unfiltered, which means it still contains “The Mother” and other beneficial bacteria. It’s also best to dilute the vinegar appropriately, in order to reduce its acidity and protect teeth, and to start with a small amount each day, gradually increasing it based on tolerance. It’s important to talk with your doctor before consuming any vinegar, especially if you have existing health issues or are taking medication for diabetes or high blood pressure. The National Centers for Complementary and Integrative Health recommends that you not replace any prescription medications with vinegar, as this could be dangerous.