Growing up, whenever I felt a little under the weather, my dad always whipped up a cure-all tea concoction consisting of lemon, ginger, and—you guessed it—apple cider vinegar. Fast forward to today, I always keep a bottle of apple cider vinegar (aka ACV) on hand. Whether taken straight (with water) to aid in digestion, incorporated into a homemade salad dressing, or as a hair rinse, it seems apple cider vinegar can do it all. But while I (along with countless others) rely on this magical home remedy, I wondered if there were other health benefits of apple cider vinegar. Turns, out there's a lot that's backed by science. Read on for the basics of apple cider vinegar along with some expert advice on how to take apple cider vinegar if it's new to you.
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What is Apple Cider Vinegar?
Apple cider vinegar is made in a two-step fermentation process. First, apples are crushed and juiced. From there, naturally occurring yeast converts sugars in the apple juice into ethanol (alcohol). A second fermentation happens next, where acetic bacteria converts the alcohol into acetic acid, which is apple cider vinegar.
What does "the mother" mean?
On a lot of labels for apple cider vinegar, you might see wording saying it contains "the mother." While it may sound creepy, it's the cloudy substance in the bottle that often settles at the bottom. The purpose of keeping the mother in the bottle is that it contains the prebiotics, proteins, enzymes, minerals, polyphenols, vitamins, and other compounds produced by friendly bacteria and unfiltered apple juice.
Apple Cider Vinegar Benefits
While there are a lot of myths on apple cider vinegar, there are clinical studies that have shown benefits in the following areas:
Helps maintain healthy glucose levels and cholesterol
Prebiotics (in "the mother") are linked to promoting gut health
How to Take Apple Cider Vinegar
According to the experts at Bragg, you should aim for at least 750 mg of acetic acid per day. This is equivalent to 1 tablespoon of raw, unfiltered, and organic apple cider vinegar ($12, Amazon). How and when you take apple cider vinegar is up to you. "Anyone can incorporate ACV but we always advise people with any dietary restrictions per individual conditions to always consult with their doctor or nutritionist if there are any concerns," says Bragg CEO Linda Boardman. A popular method of taking apple cider vinegar is to simply take by diluting with at least 8 ounces of water. Other use apple cider vinegar supplements (more on this next) or by simply using it in recipes calling for vinegar for an extra nutritional boost.
Apple Cider Vinegar Supplements
If you're not a fan of the tart, sour flavor, you might want to try apple cider vinegar in the form of capsules ($20, Amazon) or gummies ($19, Amazon). When purchasing these ACV products, Boardman says it is important to recognize that the milligrams of apple cider vinegar listed on the supplement label is not equal to the amount of acetic acid content. "To find out if you're achieving the daily dose, you need to multiply the ACV milligrams by the percentage of acetic acid," she says. "If this number is lower than 750 mg, you are not getting the efficacious dose clinically proven to support the benefits that ACV has to offer."
For anyone just starting to add apple cider vinegar to their diet, Boardman says to start with 750 mg of acetic acid per day, but you can definitely add more after a week by taking it two to three times per day.