Apple cider vinegar, otherwise known as ACV, has been used historically as a health tonic to treat everything from wounds to diabetes, high fever to weight issues, and much more.
Natural ACV is made from fresh, crushed, organically grown apples that have been fermented in tanks. When mature, it contains a web-like substance called a “mother" made from the naturally occurring pectin and apple residue. This mother contains many minerals and enzymes that aren't always present in processed vinegars.
As a naturopath and nutritionist, I'm a huge fan of the humble ACV, and it will always have a place on my shelf. I recommend it to patients — and use it myself daily — as a digestive aid to cut through sluggish bowel movements.
There are many claims about the miraculous healing properties of ACV, but very little science to back them up. That said, I still think it warrants space in your pantry. And to prove it, here are five things ACV can help with:
1. Type 2 diabetes
When added to meals, ACV has the ability to reduce the digestion of complex carbohydrates, preventing some of the starch from being digested and thereby raising your blood sugar levels. It's thought that its antiglycemic and blood-sugar-favorable properties are due to its acetic acid content, making ACV fabulous for prevention and treatment of type 2 diabetes.
2. High cholesterol
ACV improves heart health by lowering total cholesterol, triglycerides, and very low-density lipoproteins (VLDL), the dangerous form of cholesterol often linked to risk of heart attack.
3. Blood pressure
Apple cider vinegar has been used in weight-loss protocols for many years. Studies have shown that consuming ACV before a meal reduces the need to overeat as it improves satiety, that sense of being full.
5. Reflux, heartburn, and digestive issues
Contrary to popular belief, acid reflux typically occurs from having too little stomach acid. ACV is a simple and effective way to improve the acid content of your stomach, reduce reflux symptoms, and help break down food. It's also thought that drinking ACV before meals can improve your ability to absorb important minerals from the foods you eat.
So, how can you get your daily ACV fix? Here are a few of my favorite ways to use it:
- As a digestive drink: Dilute one tablespoon in one cup of warm or room temperature water daily, or take one tablespoon 10-20 minutes before meals.
- In salad dressings with healthy oils, herbs, spices, pepper, and pink Himalayan rock salt.
- In sauces, mustards, and dips.
- To help ferment gut-loving vegetables such as sauerkraut.
- To tenderize beef, lamb, chicken, and other meat in slow cooking.
- As an ingredient in bone broths to leech all of the amazing, gut-loving minerals out of the bones.
Look for raw, organic, unfiltered, unpasteurized ACV that contains the mother. This will ensure it contains the beneficial probiotics, minerals, and enzymes.
A word of warning: Always dilute ACV in water or fresh juice before consuming. ACV is highly acidic, so drinking it straight and undiluted can damage the enamel of your teeth, your throat, and the tissues in your mouth.