Apple cider vinegar is a naturally occuring fermented product that is a source of antioxidants, enzymes, and other compounds that could help accelerate weight loss, improve blood sugar control, and decrease risk factors for heart disease, like blood lipids.
What makes apple cider vinegar so special? Here’s what we’ve learned from the latest research on the benefits of apple cider vinegar.
Apple cider vinegar benefits
1. Apple cider vinegar may help improve blood sugar regulation
Clinical trials show apple cider vinegar dropped participants’ blood sugar levels by 34% after eating 50 grams of white bread (1).
In another study, subjects taking 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar at bedtime showed a 4% reduction of fasting blood sugars the next morning (2).
When the effects of apple cider vinegar were tested after diabetic patients ate a high-carb meal, the results were impressive: insulin sensitivity improved by 19 – 34%; both blood glucose and insulin response levels dropped as well (3).
In searching for avenues to assist diabetics in managing blood sugar, a respectable amount of research has been done with both humans and rats using apple cider vinegar, with promising outcomes. (4, 5, 6)
2. Apple cider vinegar may help reduce risk factors for cardiovascular disease
Apple cider vinegar can also protect LDL cholesterol from becoming oxidized, which is known to bump up the risk of cardiovascular disease (10).
3. Apple cider vinegar may help support weight loss
With its positive effect on blood sugar, apple cider vinegar may be helpful in controlling weight (11.)
One study with 11 subjects showed increased feelings of fullness with high-carb meals, as well as fewer total calories consumed throughout the day. (12)
Obese patients who added apple cider vinegar to their diets experienced modest amounts of weight loss over a three-month period. Those who used more (two tablespoons as compared to one) lost more (3.7 pounds as compared to 2.6 pounds) (13).
While these aren’t dramatic results, participants made no other changes in lifestyle; used in combination with dietary adjustments and exercise, the effects could escalate.
4. The acetic acid in apple cider vinegar could reduce blood pressure
One study highlighted the benefits of acetic acid, the compound in apple cider vinegar that gives it its characteristic acidity (14). The authors reviewed several papers, highlighting some observational studies showing that people with higher acetic acid intake had lower blood pressure.
Apple cider vinegar side effects
Apple cider vinegar may damage your esophagus. A case report published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association describes the case of a 48 year old woman who was regularly taking apple cider vinegar pills for health benefits, and got a tablet lodged in her throat (15).
The acidity of the apple cider vinegar pills she was taking caused an injury to her esophagus, and impaired her ability to swallow for several months thereafter.
Some apple cider vinegar pills are highly acidic. After this case report, researchers investigated the acidity of a range of apple cider vinegar pills.
Apple cider vinegar varies widely in its actual acidity content. The authors of the same study found wide variation in the acidity of different brands of apple cider vinegar, and noted that recommended dosages varied widely as well.
Low-quality apple cider vinegar products can be too concentrated. Some brands differ wildly from their label-claimed acetic acid content, so much so that that they would be considered poisonous, according to Consumer Product Safety Commission guidelines.
Apple cider vinegar pills should not be taken by people who have trouble swallowing. If the capsule gets lodged in your throat, it could cause serious problems.
Liquid apple cider vinegar has less of a chance of causing damage from its acidity. Liquid apple cider vinegar is restricted by food regulations in its acidity, which prevents it from being so acidic that it could damage your throat.
Liquid apple cider vinegar can degrade tooth enamel. However, liquid apple cider vinegar poses problems for your tooth enamel if consumed regularly.
A case study published by researchers in the Netherlands described a 15-year-old girl who experienced extensive erosion in her tooth enamel due to consuming a large glass of apple cider vinegar every day in an attempt to lose weight (16).
It appears that both pill based and liquid apple cider vinegar carry some risk of side effects, though these can be minimized by taking moderate amounts, and in the case of apple cider vinegar pills, avoiding supplements with excessive acidity levels.
Apple cider vinegar dosage
Dosages often range from 300-1500 mg per day of powder but the right amount is unclear. However, even the latest scientific research is pretty noncommittal when it comes to the optimal dosage (17).
Since most of the research on apple cider vinegar is confined to animal models or one-off single-occasion studies in humans, the appropriate dosage for apple cider vinegar is pretty vague.
Liquid doses of one teaspoon to two tablespoons per day are common for liquid apple cider vinegar. Doses within these ranges are a good place to start, but more research is clearly needed on the right amount of apple cider vinegar to take for health.
Apple cider vinegar benefits FAQ
Q: What is apple cider vinegar good for?
A: Most research has pointed towards using apple cider vinegar to control blood sugar, lower blood lipid levels, and assist with weight loss.
While it’s been found to be effective in animal models of all three of these conditions, there’s less research on how well these animal findings generalize to humans. Nevertheless, apple cider vinegar supplements are popular among people with metabolic syndrome, obesity, or high blood lipids, which are all risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
Q: How much apple cider vinegar should you drink?
A: Dosing is one of the least well-studied aspects of apple cider vinegar supplementation, which is a consequence of most of the health claims for this supplement coming from animal studies. You can’t just scale up the dose a mouse receives in a four-week study and take the same dose for an adult human.
From case reports, we know that large amounts (several fluid ounces) are too much–this much apple cider vinegar can cause damage to your teeth and possibly stomach acid.
Manufacturers recommend between a teaspoon and a tablespoon per day of liquid apple cider vinegar, or between 300 and 1500 mg of powder form apple cider vinegar in capsules. This is a pretty broad range, so it’s better to start on the low end.
Q: Can apple cider vinegar help you lose weight?
A: Based on animal models, the answer seems to be yes, but large, high-quality studies in humans haven’t been conducted yet. Apple cider vinegar seems to help mice and rats with obesity lose weight, control their blood sugar, and lower their blood lipid levels over the course of several weeks.
Other popular natural weight loss supplements, such as green coffee bean extract or green tea extract, were similarly verified in animal studies before their benefits being confirmed in humans, but apple cider vinegar is still in this preliminary stage: it has support from animal models, but not clinical trials in humans (yet).
Related: Our best apple cider vinegar picks
Apple cider vinegar is a probiotic-produced compound that can support weight loss and improve control of blood sugar. It might also help reduce the risk of heart disease.
However, it’s got more potential downsides than some other supplements, so you need to take care if you’re incorporating it into your routine: start with a low dosage, and make sure to use a high-quality product that isn’t too acidic.