To make vinegar, a sugar source such as apples or barley is fermented into alcohol. The liquid is then fermented again, converting the alcohol to acid. The result is an acidic and sometimes sweet product that helps to flavor food or protect it from bacteria.
What is Apple Cider Vinegar?
Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is a type of vinegar made from crushed apples, yeast, and sugar. It is used as an ingredient in foods such as salad dressings, pickles and sauces.
For years, people have used it as a home remedy for everything from fighting germs to preventing heartburn. More recent research has shown that apple cider vinegar may have some real health benefits, such as helping to lower blood sugar and lose weight.
While there isn’t much evidence for these benefits, apple cider vinegar is generally harmless as long as you use it properly.
What Are the Types of Apple Cider Vinegar?
Apple cider vinegar is made through a process called fermentation. The yeast in the mix digests the sugar in the apple juice and turns it into alcohol after a few weeks. Then, natural bacteria break down the alcohol into acetic acid, which is what gives vinegar its pungent taste and smell.
Most of the ACV you’ll find on the market are the clear, pasteurized, and filtered type. However, you can also buy raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar that contains a cloudy residue. This substance, called “mother”, consists of resident bacteria and yeasts.
Some people credit the mother for the health benefits of ACV. And it’s thought to contain small amounts of probiotics, healthy bacteria that are good for gut health. But the research has not found the mother to provide any specific health benefits.
The acetic acid in ACV is believed to be at least partly responsible for the health benefits it has. But other types of vinegar also contain acetic acid.
You can also buy apple cider vinegar pills, powders, or gum. But there is little research on whether these supplements have any effect. And because the FDA doesn’t regulate dietary supplements, you don’t know exactly what’s in them.
Is vinegar useful?
*Vinegar is an excellent source:
Certain types of vinegar can also be a good source of antioxidants. The darker the vinegar, the more antioxidants will remain in the liquid. A darker vinegar is generally less refined than lighter types of vinegar, and there are healthy compounds in the liquid that affect the taste and color.
What Are the Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar?
Most of the studies supporting ACV for health effects were small and the results were indicative. We need more and larger studies on its benefits. But so far what the research has found is:
It can aid in weight loss. One study showed that taking apple cider vinegar twice a day helped people on a low-calorie diet shed a few extra pounds. But the study was small and short-lived, following 39 people for 12 weeks.
Some researchers thought that vinegar’s acetic acid might boost metabolism. However, the data did not confirm this. People may have lost more weight due to the placebo effect. Or maybe the acetic acid made them nauseous, causing them to eat less.
It can lower blood sugar. A few small studies have shown that taking a tablespoon or two of apple cider vinegar after meals can lower your blood sugar levels. The effect was moderate and we need more research to know exactly how it works. Remember that apple cider vinegar cannot replace diabetes medication and a healthy lifestyle. But it should be safe to add to your treatment plan.
It can lower cholesterol. The same small study that showed that ACV increased weight loss also found that subjects taking it lowered their total cholesterol levels. It also increased their “good” cholesterol and lowered their triglyceride (blood fats) levels. Similar findings were obtained in other studies. Experts warn that we need more research to fully understand this link.