Despite it not really containing any vitamins or minerals – other than a very small amount of potassium, calcium and magnesium – foodies and athletes all swear by it. But, why?
Referred to those in the know as 'ACV', apple cider vinegar is a common ingredient in salad dressings, marinades, smoothies and even homemade facial cleanser.
To make it, apple juice is fermented with bacteria and yeast – converting the sugar to alcohol – which is then converted into vinegar by way of acetic acid forming.
The end product is rich in organic acids such as acetic acid, citric acid and lactic acid as well as phenolic compounds (gallic acid, catechin, epicatechin, and chlorogenic acid), which are bioactive compounds that have antioxidant, anticarcinogenic, and anti-inflammatory effects. The bacteria and yeast cultures are also said to be rich in enzymes and gut-friendly probiotic bacteria.
So, why doesn't everyone drink it?
Essentially, it's because of the taste. Akin to swilling a glug of malt vinegar, the aftertaste is definitely something that takes a while to get used to.
However, for those of you who can stick it – a daily tablespoon mixed into a glass of water or into salad dressings can have the following benefits:
1. Blood sugar levels
Reports show that apple cider vinegar has anti-glycaemic properties, resulting in a very positive effect on blood sugar levels. It reduces glucose and insulin responses. This is thanks to its acetic acid content which can help to prevent the complete digestion of complex carbohydrates by speeding up the rate at which food leaves the stomach.
2. Heart health
There are many ways in which apple cider vinegar can support your heart health. It is high in polyphenols which help to prevent cardiovascular disease. Studies also note improvements in both cholesterol and blood pressure as a result of apple cider vinegar consumption.
3. Weight loss
Research has observed that the acetic acid levels in apple cider vinegar also help to increase our feelings of fullness from the food we eat, thus reducing the amount of food and calories consumed.
Just one tablespoon of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar can help to improve the acid content of your stomach, as acid reflux is usually a symptom of having too little stomach acid. Digestive issues, such as intestinal spasms may also be soothed thanks to the pectin content.
Potassium and amino acids found in apple cider vinegar can help to improve energy levels.
6. Skin health
Apple cider vinegar is a common remedy for skin conditions like dry skin and eczema. Using topical apple cider vinegar could help rebalance the natural pH of the skin, improving the protective skin barrier. Some people use diluted apple cider vinegar to wash the skin and clear blemishes. The idea is that it can kill bacteria and prevent spots.
So, how does one use it?
According to Holland & Barrett, the best ways to incorporate ACV into your diet are the following:
As a daily drink
Stir two teaspoons of apple cider vinegar into a large glass of water before bedtime. But remember, always dilute it before drinking. On its own, vinegar’s acidic nature means it can be harsh on your throat and damage your teeth.
As an alternative to salt
Trying to cut down on your sodium intake? Swap salt for a dash of apple cider vinegar to enhance the flavour of your usual meals.
As a salad dressing
Whisk it together with olive oil, honey and lemon juice trickled over crisp salad leaves.
As a steam facial treatment
Facial steaming opens your pores and helps to clear impurities. To take the treatment to the next level, simply add two teaspoons of apple cider vinegar to a bowl of hot, boiled water. Cover your head with a towel and sit over the steam for up to 15 minutes. When you’re done splash your face with cool water and gently pat your skin dry.
As a skin cleanser and toner
Why not switch your usual skincare products for an all-natural alternative? After rinsing your face with water, finish by wiping with a solution of equal parts water and vinegar. Before attempting this, do a patch test to prevent any skin irritation.
As a cleaning hair rinse
For a boost of moisture and shine that soothes an itchy scalp, apple cider vinegar is just the thing for thirsty hair. First, mix equal quantities of apple cider vinegar and water in a bottle. After washing your hair as usual, pour on the mix then rinse with water for softer, cleansed hair.