Apple cider vinegar is an ancient remedy for treating a slew of ailments from colds to wounds. But “ACV”, as it’s known among fans, is definitely having a moment right now.
We can thank the “detoxing” trend for some of the current popularity (note that detoxing isn’t really necessary – our bodies get rid of toxins naturally). The apple cider vinegar detox involves drinking an elixir made with vinegar and water every day – even multiple times a day in the hopes of boosting energy and revving metabolism. Some people drink it occasionally for overall health.
Is there anything to the health claims? Possibly, but don’t count on it.
The science is still pretty slim. For instance, most of the studies around ACV and weight loss are either done on animals or involve very few subjects, so it’s hard to draw solid conclusions. In one study, people with obesity who drank ACV daily for 12 weeks lost slightly more weight (about 2-4 pounds) than those who didn’t. Researchers speculate that the acetic acid in ACV may slow stomach emptying (which can make you feel fuller), but it’s also possible that people aren’t hungry after drinking vinegar because it makes them queasy.
There are some small but promising studies around diabetes. In two small studies, people who consumed vinegar (including white vinegar) before a high-carb meal experienced less of a rise in blood sugar and felt fuller than those who didn’t. Another small study found that people with type 2 diabetes who drank ACV before bedtime had a lower a.m. blood sugar than those who didn’t. (But that doesn’t mean you should stop taking your medications in favor of using apple cider vinegar!)
Unfiltered apple cider vinegar may offer some unique health perks. That’s because it contains a “mother” – it’s a cloudy glob at the bottom of the jar – which is rich in bacteria that work as probiotics, populating the gut with healthy bugs. And it’s true that ACV does contain some nutrients like potassium, but not in meaningful amounts considering how much people typically consume.
Overall, I’d say that for most people, apple cider vinegar falls under the category of “it may or may not help, but it probably won’t hurt.”
But if you have any health conditions or take medications, you should talk to your doctor before regularly drinking apple cider vinegar. There’s a possibility it could interact with certain medications or make some conditions (like reflux) worse.
If you don’t have any existing health conditions and want to give apple cider vinegar a try, stick with the real deal instead of popping ACV supplements, so you know exactly what you’re getting. Mix up to two tablespoons of ACV in a cup of water. But remember that because it’s highly acidic, it can erode tooth enamel. So brush or rinse your mouth afterwards. A much tastier way to enjoy ACV: Use it in the kitchen to add a bright flavor to salad dressings, sauces, and marinades.