The Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar

Written by: Christine VanDoren, Nutritionist

Fact checked by: Jessica Guht, M.Eng. Biomedical Engineering

The Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar has surged in popularity as a holistic remedy for various health issues. It's been a staple in kitchens for centuries but is now also celebrated for its potential health benefits. So, what exactly is apple cider vinegar, and why has it become a popular holistic remedy?

Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is a type of vinegar made from crushed fermented apple juice, yeast, and sugar. It undergoes a two-step fermentation process, transforming the sugars in the juice into alcohol and then into acetic acid, the compound responsible for vinegar's distinctive tangy flavor.

It is often used in salad dressings and marinades, but more recently, ACV has shown that it can benefit human health.

So, is there evidence to back the health claims associated with ACV? Can it really aid with weight management, blood sugar, cholesterol levels, and digestion? Also, does it actually have cleansing properties?  

Overview of claimed health benefits

Weight management

Apple cider vinegar has garnered attention for its potential role in keeping unwanted weight off. While it's no magic bullet in the fight, research suggests that it may contribute to weight management.

Some studies have indicated that ACV can help manage appetite. Individuals who consumed ACV with a high-carb meal reported feeling fuller, resulting in the need for less food intake, leading to fewer daily calories.

ACV may not only be an appetite suppressant, but it is thought to also have a positive impact on metabolism. It is believed that acetic acid, the primary component of vinegar, may enhance fat oxidation and energy expenditure.

Acetic acid has also been recently found to suppress the accumulation of body fat in animals, and other trials have suggested that the same results have been obtained in some human subjects, even though more research and more human trials are needed.

Blood sugar 

The effect of apple cider vinegar on blood sugar levels has garnered significant interest.

Research suggests it may also have beneficial impacts on insulin levels. This effect is attributed to acetic acid's ability to promote insulin's effectiveness in muscle and liver cells and to the way apple cider vinegar may change how foods are absorbed in the gut.

Therefore, it can be argued that ACV might help mitigate post-meal blood sugar fluctuations, leading to a healthy blood sugar level following a high-carb meal.


Maintaining healthy cholesterol levels is vital for heart health, and some limited research suggests that apple cider vinegar may play a role in cholesterol management.

Studies have indicated that ACV consumption can help with healthy levels of total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides. These changes are associated with an improvement in overall health.

ACV contains antioxidants that can have a positive effect on lipid profiles, including protecting LDL cholesterol from oxidation. By reducing oxidative stress, ACV may contribute to improved cardiovascular health as well.

Improved digestion 

Apple cider vinegar has a long history of use as a digestive aid, with some limited scientific evidence supporting its potential benefits.

ACV's acidity may aid digestion and alleviate bloating in some instances, especially when a diluted ACV solution is ingested before a meal. However, it is important to dilute apple cider vinegar, as taking it neat can have the opposite effect and create digestive upset in sensitive individuals.

It is thought that ACV contains probiotics that can support and balance gut flora. A healthy and balanced gut bacteria is crucial for efficient digestion and nutrient absorption.

Risks and potential side effects 

Although apple cider vinegar has gained popularity in recent years for its potential health benefits, it's essential to be aware of the risks and potential side effects associated with its use.

ACV is highly acidic and can erode tooth enamel when consumed undiluted or used as a mouthwash. To minimize this risk, ACV should always be diluted with water or consumed through a straw.

Some people may experience digestive discomfort like heartburn or upset stomach when consuming ACV, especially in large amounts. Starting with a small dose and monitoring bodily reactions before gradually increasing it to reach the desired or required daily dose is the best way forward.

While some studies suggest ACV may help manage blood sugar levels, it can also significantly lower blood sugar levels in some individuals, leading to hypoglycemia. Therefore, diabetics should exercise caution and consult a healthcare professional.

ACV may interact with certain medications, such as insulin or diuretics, potentially affecting their effectiveness. A healthcare provider should be consulted if such medications are taken regularly.

Applying undiluted ACV directly to the skin can cause irritation or burns. It is best to always dilute it before using it for topical applications.

High levels of acetic acid in ACV can potentially leach calcium from bones, negatively impacting bone health if consumed excessively over time.

Rarely, individuals may be allergic to components in ACV, leading to allergic reactions like itching, swelling, or hives.

How to take safely 

It's crucial to start with a small dose and gradually increase to assess how the body responds. A common dosage recommendation is one to two tablespoons (15-30 mL) per day. However, some people may prefer to start with one teaspoon (5 mL) and work their way up to avoid any digestive discomfort.

ACV is highly acidic and can be harsh on the teeth and digestive system when consumed undiluted. To take it safely,  it should be diluted with water before ingestion. The ideal ratio is typically one to two tablespoons of ACV in eight to ten ounces (240-300 mL) of water. A teaspoon of honey for flavor can be added if desired. ACV gummies are another option.

Many people find it helpful to take ACV about 15 to 30 minutes before a meal. Some believe this can aid in digestion, reduce appetite, and potentially help with weight management.

Some individuals prefer to start their day with a glass of diluted ACV. It's a personal preference and can provide a gentle energy boost for some.

Others choose to take ACV before bedtime. This may help balance blood sugar levels, but caution is needed if individuals are sensitive to acidic foods, especially if consumed close to bedtime, as it could lead to acid reflux and heartburn.

If digestive discomfort is experienced after a meal, then a diluted ACV solution can be taken to alleviate symptoms.

Recipes for health 

Apple cider vinegar is a versatile vinegar that has its origins in food preparation, especially when used in salads and salad dressings. 

  1. A traditional ACV salad dressing consists of a mixture of vinegar and extra virgin olive oil. 

Some may like to add dried mint to this mixture or even mustard, maple syrup, and honey, depending on individual taste. Salt and black pepper are also commonly added to flavor such dressings.

Salad dressings are simple and quick to make and complement most vegetables, such as lettuce, cucumber, cabbage, etc, that regularly make up a typical salad that accompanies a main meal.

  1. An apple cider vinegar detox drink is another popular way of consuming vinegar daily. Because this recipe is drunk straight, it is best to be more precise with the amounts of vinegar used, unlike the more relaxed approach that can be taken with salad dressing as they are mixed with vegetables.

A glass of warm water is the basis for a typical apple cider vinegar detox drink. To the water, add two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar. Lemon juice and honey can also be included. 

However, for those with a sensitive stomach, it is best to limit lemon juice to a tablespoon. This can help to avoid heartburn and indigestion. The concoction should be stirred well and drunk in the morning before breakfast. Homemade is better than the products sold in stores.

  1. Apple cider vinegar chicken marinade is a simple way of enhancing a chicken dish. ACV goes surprisingly well with chicken, whether it is going to be roasted or grilled.

The basis for such a recipe is similar to a salad dressing, with vinegar and olive oil making up the bulk of the marinade. To this can be added salt, pepper, turmeric, and other spices. Whether it is chicken breast, thighs, wings, or drumsticks, it is best to leave the meat in the mixture overnight before cooking.

FAQ - common questions and concerns related to health benefits

Q: Is apple cider vinegar an effective weight management aid?

A: Apple cider vinegar has been touted as a weight loss aid, but its effectiveness varies among individuals. Some studies suggest that it may help with weight management by promoting a feeling of fullness and reducing calorie intake. However, the effects are generally modest, and it should not be relied upon as a sole weight solution. It's essential to maintain a balanced diet and exercise regularly for sustainable weight management.

Q: Can apple cider vinegar help blood sugar levels? 

A: Apple cider vinegar may have a modest impact on blood sugar levels. Some research indicates that it can promote insulin activity and reduce the post-meal fluctuations in blood sugar. However, individuals with diabetes should consult their healthcare provider before using apple cider vinegar as a supplement, as it can interact with diabetes medications. It should not replace prescribed treatments. 

Q: Is it safe to consume apple cider vinegar daily? 

A: Consuming apple cider vinegar in moderation is generally safe for most people. However, undiluted apple cider vinegar is highly acidic and can erode tooth enamel and irritate the throat and stomach. 

To minimize these risks, diluting it with water before consumption is best. Starting with one to two tablespoons in a large glass of water and gradually increasing the amount, if desired, is the most effective way to take this vinegar.

It's also important to monitor body response and discontinue use if adverse effects like stomach discomfort or throat irritation are experienced. Pregnant or nursing women and individuals with certain medical conditions should consult a healthcare professional before regular use.

While apple cider vinegar may offer some health benefits, it is not a cure-all, and its effects can vary from person to person. It's advisable to incorporate it into a balanced and varied diet rather than relying on it as a sole health remedy. 

Always consult a healthcare provider for personalized advice on using apple cider vinegar or any other dietary supplements.


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