The ancient condiment—the earliest known use of vinegar dates back more than 10,000 years and has been used as both food and medicine—is enjoying a real resurgence lately. As a folk remedy, apple cider vinegar has been credited with curing everything from the flu to warts. Many of its supposed benefits are unproven, but some experts think that adding a little of this sour liquid to your life may have some health benefits.
Here are 7 health benefits of apple cider vinegar which are supported by scientific research.
1. It keeps blood sugar levels in check. Multiple studies give weight to the claim that apple cider vinegar can help with diabetes and blood sugar regulation. Drinking the stuff was shown to improve insulin sensitivity to high-carbohydrate meals—slowing the rise in blood sugar levels.
2. It protects your heart. Japanese research showed apple cider vinegar reduced blood pressure in rats—but the same results have yet to be showed in humans. (Did you know apples are one of The Best Fruits for a Heart-Healthy Diet?)
3. It aids digestion. Fermented foods, like vinegar, have been shown to aid digestion by encouraging the growth of healthy gut bacteria.
4. It prevents cancer. This is a stretch, but apple cider vinegar is rich in polyphenols, which help fight oxidative stress. Research has shown that eating diets high in antioxidant-rich foods may help reduce your cancer risk, but don’t expect a magic panacea.
5. It could help you lose weight. Research is very limited, but a small Japanese study published in Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry did find that people who took vinegar daily for twelve weeks lost slightly more weight (1 to 2 lbs.) than those who took water. Experts believe vinegar may stimulate genes that help breakdown fat. Another study in the International Journal of Obesity found sipping the stuff could suppress appetite, but this was due to the fact that the pungent taste caused people to feel nauseous—less than appealing.
6. It balances your pH levels. Although very little research has been done in this field, proponents claim apple cider vinegar helps restore alkalinity in the body, which can boost metabolism, strengthen immunity and slow the aging-process to give you clearer, wrinkle-free skin.
7. It may banish bad breath. The vinegar’s anti-bacterial properties may help break down plaque and kill bacteria that cause halitosis and even a sore throat.
One thing to note before you pour yourself a glass: The taste can be tough to swallow, so, if you want to give the trendy drink a try, we recommend mixing two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar with water and honey or a fresh fruit juice. Opt for the cloudy, unfiltered version, as it’s believed to be the most potent—just don’t drink too much. Over-indulging may damage your tooth enamel or irritate your esophagus due to its high acid content.