Apple Cider Vinegar: 5 Evidence-Based Health Benefits


Apple cider vinegar is a centuries-old natural remedy that has a range of uses. For over 2000 years, apple cider vinegar (ACV) has been used to flavor and preserve foods, heal wounds, fight infections, clean surfaces, and even manage conditions such as diabetes. (1)

Today, apple cider vinegar is one of the most affordable and versatile natural remedies out there. However, its longstanding popularity and lack of large-scale clinical trials make it difficult to draw the line between fact and internet folklore.

That’s why we’ve laid out 5 impressive health benefits of apple cider vinegar that also have the research to back them up. Continue reading below to find out more!

But first, what exactly is apple cider vinegar?

Apple cider vinegar comes from the fermentation of apple cider.

Yeast digests the sugars in apples and converts them into alcohol. A bacteria, acetobacter, then turns the alcohol into acetic acid. (2)

The “mother” refers to the combination of yeast and bacteria created through the fermentation process. Chances are if you’ve ever looked at the bottom of an apple cider vinegar bottle, you may have noticed there are little “mother” strands floating around.

Many integrative medical experts attribute some of apple cider vinegar’s effects to the “mother.” There is some accuracy to this because the mother does count as a probiotic. But, the importance of the mother has not been well established with sound analysis.

Aside from probiotics, it also contains other substances such as citric, lactic, and malic acids, and bacteria. But the high levels of acetic acid in apple cider vinegar are thought to be the main ingredient behind most of its supposed health benefits. (3)

Taking apple cider vinegar & ACV dosage

ACV can be consumed in food, small diluted quantities can be taken in liquid form, or it can be taken as a supplement. Like other naturally distilled vinegar varieties, the key component of ACV is acetic acid.

One to two tablespoons per day is the commonly recommended dosage by alternative health experts. (4)

While most people are generally open to adding apple cider vinegar to their daily routine, there are a few formal warnings from physicians to note:

  • Vinegar should be diluted if you aren’t taking it in supplement form. Its high acidic nature can be damaging to tooth enamel when sipped “straight.” Consuming it in, for example, vinaigrette salad dressing or in diluted form with warm water are better options.
    (5)
  • According to some experts, ACV may cause or worsen low potassium levels. That’s particularly important to note if you are already on medications that may lower potassium levels. (6)
apple sliced up with two clear glasses of apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar comes from the fermentation of apple cider.

Five scientifically-backed apple cider vinegar health benefits

Lowers Heart Disease Risk Factors

Multiple animal studies suggest that ingesting apple cider vinegar regularly can help lower triglyceride levels and cholesterol, as well as several other critical heart disease risk factors.

  • ACV has been found to have an acute effect at combating the hardening of arteries. (7)
  • A recent 2018 study with male rats with high-fat content (i.e. fat rats) also found that ACV lowers cardiovascular risk factors when taken daily. (8)

Did you know?
Heart disease is currently the world’s most common cause of premature death. (9)

Acts as a Natural Disinfectant

Apple cider vinegar has historically been used as a disinfectant. And recent research has shown that ACV does, in fact, have antibacterial properties that help kill pathogens. (10)(11)

Lowers Blood Pressure

ACV has been shown to be very effective at reducing blood pressure in animal studies. (12, 13) The only human evidence so far is an observational study from Harvard showing that women who ate salad dressings with vinegar were better protected from heart disease. (14)

Improves Insulin Function and Blood Sugar Levels

According to recent research, apple cider vinegar has shown great promise for helping lower blood sugar levels and improving insulin levels after meals, making it notably beneficial for people with Type 2 diabetes. (15, 16, 17, 18, 19)

Promotes Weight Loss

Human studies suggest that ACV can increase feelings of fullness and help people eat fewer calories, which leads to weight loss. (20) One study conducted over a three month period with 175 people showed notable weight loss and reduced belly fat in the subjects while ingesting apple cider vinegar daily. (21)

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

Is apple cider vinegar a natural cancer treatment?

There is a lot of online-hype in the natural health community about the anti-cancer effects of taking apple cider vinegar. And there have been some studies to back up vinegar’s cancer-combating properties, though none of them have been done on humans or have been large-scale clinical trials with ACV.

While apple cider vinegar could be a viable natural option for treating cancer, much more research needs to be done before any recommendations can be made.

  • Various types of naturally fermented vinegar were shown to kill and shrink cancer cells in a study on rats. (22)
  • Another study done on isolated human cells in a lab found that sugarcane and rice vinegar inhibits the proliferation of human cancer cells. (23)
doctor cloak with stethoscope and pens in pocket

Ask your doctor about using apple cider vinegar, so that they can optimize the usage for you specifically.

Ask your doctor about taking apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar has a broad range of proven health benefits for certain conditions but it is still not recommended to be used medicinally without professional guidance. While recent research has been promising, experts say there need to be more large-scale clinical trials before apple cider vinegar can be recommended as a treatment option. If you’re considering using apple cider vinegar as an alternative remedy, it is best to check in with your doctor or dietician first.

Apple cider vinegar is not a “miracle” or a “cure-all” like some people claim, but it does clearly have a range of proven health benefits. It is very valuable for people who like to keep things chemical-free and as natural as possible.

If you have questions about any claims have read or heard about apple cider vinegar, talk to your doctor or dietician about adding apple cider vinegar to your diet. Apple cider vinegar may very well become the “mother” of flavorful benefits in some of your favorite recipes!