10 Truths (and Lies) You Should Know About Apple Cider Vinegar

While you may be familiar with the uses of white vinegar around your house for cleaning, or you may find yourself using a little bit of balsamic vinegar on your salad, there is one vinegar that you should start paying particular attention to. If you’re constantly looking for the best way to give your body a health boost and detox, adding a tablespoon or two of apple cider vinegar to your water each day may be beneficial — but you should also be wary of false health claims. While apple cider vinegar can be great for some ailments, it is not necessarily the miracle worker that it’s often advertised as.

Not all apple cider vinegars are created equal, either. Apple cider vinegar is made from fermented apples as the name suggests, and you’ll want to ensure that your particular brand of vinegar contains “the mother.” As Dr. Mercola states, mother is an amino-acid based accumulation that is only found in vinegars that have been fermenting for longer periods of time. It shows that the vinegar has been unprocessed and unfiltered, giving you the most health benefits that you can possibly gain — pasteurized apple cider vinegar will not have the same benefits.

Here are 10 facts about apple cider vinegar that can help you determine if you should be adding more of this ingredient into your diet.

1. True: Helps clear troubled skin

Apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar may help your skin. | iStock.com

If you have acne woes or dandruff, look no further than your local grocery store for the perfect remedy. While prescription medication can be tough on the skin and cause you flaking, dryness, and bigger skin issues than you had before, a little bit of apple cider vinegar mixed with water on a cotton swab makes for an excellent natural toner. Dr. Karen Hammerman, cosmetic dermatologist at Vanguard Dermatology in New York City, told InStyle, “Skin is naturally acidic but when vinegar is used as a toner, it helps skin find the ideal balance between dry and oily.” To try using apple cider vinegar to treat your skin, InStyle recommends diluting one tablespoon of it with a few drops of water before applying.

2. True: Strengthens the immune system

apples

You could give your immune system a boost. | iStock.com

An apple a day may keep the doctor away, and a tablespoon of apple cider a day might have the same effect. Livestrong.com states that combining a small amount of apple cider vinegar in with your water every day may be the key to curing your gastrointestinal issues and ultimately boosting your immune system.

If you’re consuming apple cider vinegar that’s unfiltered and unprocessed, this is even better for your immune system, as the mother can benefit your lymphatic system. If you’re prone to sinus congestion and allergies in the spring, apple cider vinegar may help alleviate those symptoms. There are also probiotics found in unfiltered apple cider vinegar that support a healthy digestive system.

3. True: Helps your digestive system

Apple cider vinegar can improve your digestion

Apple cider vinegar can improve your digestion. | iStock.com

Proper digestion is key to an overall healthier you — it’s the way we obtain nutrients from our food, and if your digestive system is not adequately processing the foods you eat, you certainly are not taking in as many nutrients as you should be. Branch Basics describes how hydrochloric acid is incredibly important to our stomach cells, as it is responsible for protein digestion and the absorption of carbohydrates, fats, and certain vitamins and minerals. Without an adequate amount of this stomach acid, you aren’t fully digesting your food and taking these nutrients in.

So, how does apple cider vinegar help? Drinking a glass of water with a few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar mixed in before a meal can help you digest your proteins, which can help your HCl stay at a healthy level. Also, marinating your meats in apple cider vinegar can help you digest them better. Be sure to drink this mixture around 20 minutes before you plan on eating. This can assist your digestive system immensely, and you’ll be absorbing even more nutrients than you were before.

4. True: Helps control blood sugar levels

elements of blood pressure

ACV might help control blood sugar. | iStock.com

If you’re a diabetic and looking for a natural way to control your blood sugar levels, apple cider vinegar may be your ticket. Carol Johnston, Ph.D., director of Arizona State University’s nutrition program, states in a WebMD story that apple cider vinegar is comparable to certain medications when it comes to its effects on blood sugar. This vinegar has an anti-glycemic effect that can block some starch from being digested. Starch can raise your blood sugar significantly once digested, so even blocking a bit of the starch is helpful in controlling blood sugar levels.

For this reason, apple cider vinegar may be of particular use for diabetics, but don’t ditch your medication for this holistic approach just yet. While apple cider vinegar is helpful in keeping blood sugar levels balanced, its affect on the increased production of stomach acid can still put a strain on your kidneys and bones. Focus on your overall diet to help with your diabetes at first. Then, consult your doctor to see if consuming this vinegar is a good idea for you.

5. True: Keeps the heart healthy

doctor in a white coat holding a symbol to indicate heart health

Apple cider vinegar can keep your heart healthy. | iStock.com

Good news for those looking for a natural way to lower cholesterol — taking just one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar diluted with water a day may lower your cholesterol. A study published in the British Journal of Clinical Nutrition and presented on Dr. Axe’s page shows apple cider vinegar can increase bile production and offer liver support, which has an overall effect on your cholesterol levels.

Consuming apple cider vinegar may also reduce your blood pressure — while studies are currently showing that vinegar reduces the blood pressure in rats, some scientists think this may also translate to humans, though more studies are necessary for a concrete conclusion. When rats were given apple cider vinegar, the acetic acid in the vinegar significantly lowered their blood pressure compared to the rats that were not given the substance.

If you suffer from acid reflux or heartburn and you’re concerned about the acidity when drinking apple cider vinegar, you can combine your apple cider vinegar and water mixture with a teaspoon of baking soda. This vinegar is also available in capsule form if you would rather ingest it this way.

6. False: Great for whitening your teeth

Man brushing his teeth

It could help give you a whiter smile, just be careful. | iStock.com

While scrubbing your teeth with vinegar may seem like the perfect way to remove those coffee stains, you may want to reconsider. The Huffington Post explains that while brushing with apple cider vinegar may seem like a healthy and natural alternative to toothpaste, you’re ultimately doing serious damage to the enamel.

Apple cider vinegar is about as acidic as lemon juice, and even drinking this vinegar is likely to do damage to the teeth. If you are choosing to drink apple cider vinegar as part of a healthy diet, be sure to wait at least a half hour before brushing your teeth, even if you’re using toothpaste. The acidity from the vinegar being in your mouth combined with the brushing is likely to wear away at your enamel. Brush twice daily and use mouthwash recommended by your dentist, but do not rinse with apple cider vinegar.

7. False: Contains many vitamins and minerals

golden apple

Whole apples are a better choice for this. | iStock.com

Many fans of love apple cider vinegar also claim that it boasts a heavy dosage of vitamins, minerals, fiber, complex carbs, and amino acids, and this is why the vinegar has such an incredible ability to heal the body. While this is a nice idea, it’s not based in any truth — Sandy Szwarc, a registered nurse, debunks the idea that apple cider vinegar is full of vitamins and minerals. In fact, apple cider vinegar has only trace amounts of any nutrients.

When looking at an analysis of what’s really in a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, there is no protein or fiber and only a minuscule amount of carbs, and there are only trace amounts of calcium, iron, zinc, and manganese. With the average adult needing 1000 milligrams of calcium a day, the mere 1 gram that apple cider vinegar offers will not be helpful in reaching that goal. The multiple helpful acidic properties of the vinegar are what offer the health boost, but if you’re looking for a way to add more nutrients into your diet, you’ll want to look elsewhere.

8. False: Will worsen your heartburn

hands showing red heart

Your stomach is already acidic, so vinegar isn’t going to make things worse. | iStock.com

When your chest aches with the familiar feeling of heartburn, you probably think that fighting acid with vinegar will never work, right? Actually, apple cider vinegar can be a safe natural remedy for heartburn, even though it is highly acidic. Though more research needs to be done Healthline reports a dose of apple cider vinegar may be useful for those dealing with heartburn, but it also depends on what’s causing the problem.

Apple cider vinegar works to fight heartburn by restoring acidity to your stomach. Drinking a tablespoon diluted in water will work better than any antacid, because it does exactly the opposite of an antacid — it provides your stomach with what it naturally needs to work properly.

9. False: Works best when undiluted

apple cider vinegar in a vial surrounded by apples

Don’t drink it straight. | iStock.com

Though you may be tempted to reap all of apple cider vinegar’s benefits by drinking it straight up, you could be doing serious damage to your esophagus. Livestrong.com suggests a small amount of this vinegar (from a teaspoon to a tablespoon depending on personal preference) should be diluted in a full 8-ounce glass of water before drinking. The water will help protect your esophagus from the acidic burn.

Don’t go above the recommended dosage, either — though apple cider vinegar has its benefits, drinking too much can cause potassium levels to drop and it can interfere with certain medications like blood-thinners, diuretics, or insulin.

10. False: Fights cancer

A doctor and patient looking at cancer images

There are emerging cancer treatments, but apple cider vinegar isn’t one of them. | American Cancer Society/Getty Images

There are various studies that have tested to see if apple cider vinegar could possibly be a natural cancer fighter, but these studies are inconclusive, and they yield slightly conflicting results. Worldhealth.net notes that while consuming apple cider vinegar could lead to a reduced risk of developing esophageal cancer, another study found that this vinegar can lead to an increased risk of bladder cancer. The acidic properties of apple cider vinegar could mean that your digestive tract is cleaner and the chances of colon cancer and prostate cancer are slimmer, but this has yet to be proven as well.

Overall, it is suggested that regularly adding apple cider vinegar into your diet could help prevent cancerous cells from forming, but if you have a history of bladder cancer in your family, then it may be best to avoid it altogether.

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