This evidence-based content is written by a registered dietitian nutritionist. Scientific references are from trusted sources.
Apple cider vinegar is a powerful, flavorful vinegar with several health benefits. This article reviews what it is, its benefits and potential side effects, dosage recommendations, and top uses.
Is Apple Cider Vinegar Good for you?
Apple cider vinegar is a tangy, light brown vinegar made from fermented apples.
It has a unique flavor that lends itself well to salad dressings and marinades. It can also be used as a powerful food preservative for pickles or other canned foods.
Additionally, apple cider vinegar has many potential health benefits, such as being antibacterial and helping manage blood sugar levels. For this reason, many people take apple cider vinegar daily as a supplement (1, 2).
Apple cider vinegar “with the mother” refers vinegar that is bottled with the cloudy-looking cluster of bacteria and proteins that process the apple juice into vinegar, and is considered to be the healthiest type.
7 Best Apple Cider Vinegar Health Benefits
Apple cider vinegar has numerous potential health benefits. Here are seven of the most powerful benefits that are supported by science:
- Kills harmful bacteria and fungi. In test-tube studies, apple cider vinegar can kill disease-causing bacteria and fungi (1, 3).
- Can kill cancer cells. Vinegar can also kill many different types of cancer cells in test-tube studies. However, this research is very early and more trials in humans are needed (4).
- Helps reduce blood sugar levels. Apple cider vinegar may reduce your blood sugar levels, helping to prevent or manage type 2 diabetes. In animal studies, it can help to slow down the progression of complications from type 2 diabetes like liver or kidney damage (2, 5).
- High in acetic acid. Vinegar is high in acetic acid, which is a powerful compound that provides apple cider vinegar many of its healthy benefits—such as its antibacterial, antioxidant, anticancer, and blood sugar lowering qualities (6).
- May help you lose weight. In rat studies, apple cider vinegar supplementation decreases body weight, food intake, and abdominal circumference—possibly because the vinegar helps to decrease appetite and level out blood sugar spikes (7).
- Cholesterol-lowering. Apple cider vinegar can lower cholesterol levels, potentially decreasing heart disease risk. In animal studies, it can decrease LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglyceride levels, while increasing HDL (good) cholesterol (7).
- Reverses free radical damage. Apple cider vinegar is also a potent antioxidant, meaning it can prevent and reverse the damage caused by free radicals—harmful compounds that can build up in the body due to environmental toxin exposure. This is likely because of its high acetic acid content (8).
Apple cider vinegar appears to be very beneficial for health, but most of the existing research is based on animal and test-tube studies. More human studies are needed to fully confirm these benefits.
Drinking Apple Cider Vinegar for Weight Loss
Many people drink apple cider vinegar to help aid them in their weight loss efforts. In fact, it can help promote weight loss among rats in animal studies.
In one rat study, supplementing with apple cider vinegar profoundly decreased body weight and food intake (7).
The researchers in this study hypothesized that—because the vinegar helps manage blood sugar levels and appetite hormones—it decreased the rats’ appetites, resulting in less food intake, weight loss, and a decreased risk of developing obesity-related diseases like heart disease or type 2 diabetes.
Furthermore, one study in humans found that taking 1-2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar daily promoted weight loss, fat loss, and decreases in waist circumference (9).If you choose to supplement with it, you may experience decreased appetite and better blood sugar control—which can lead to weight loss.
Apple Cider Vinegar Supplements
Apple cider vinegar has a potent, acidic, and fermented taste that can be off-putting to many people. However, because of the benefits you may still want to supplement it.
Luckily, it’s available in pill form. The pills are made from dehydrated apple cider vinegar and are tasteless.
Pills are a much more convenient option than taking the vinegar itself, especially if you dislike the taste.
As apple cider vinegar supplementation becomes more popular, more options are becoming available. You can even purchase apple cider vinegar gummies or drinks like sodas and teas that contain a shot of the vinegar for its added health benefits.
Apple Cider Vinegar Dosages
Apple cider vinegar dosages can vary significantly depending on why you’re supplementing with it.
For instance, to potentially help improve blood sugar levels you should take 1 tablespoon before each meal (10).
To promote weight loss, you can take 1-2 tablespoons daily (9).
If you choose to supplement with apple cider vinegar pills or gummies, you should follow the dosage instructions included on the product packaging.
Because it is very powerful and acidic, you should not drink excessive amounts of apple cider vinegar due to the risk of side effects.
There are some side effects associated with taking apple cider vinegar.
Using it excessively can cause digestive upset, as it slows down digestion, which may lead to constipation or gastrointestinal discomfort.
In addition, people who drink about 1 cup (240 ml) of the vinegar daily for many years can have extremely low serum potassium levels, eroded tooth enamel, and brittle bones—likely due to the acidity from the vinegar (11, 12).
You should not drink excessive amounts of undiluted apple cider vinegar or apply it directly to your skin due to the risk of chemical burns.
A typical dose of 1-2 tablespoons per day is safe with little risk of side effects. However, if you have any concerns you should consult a healthcare professional.
Top 13 Apple Cider Vinegar Uses
Apple cider vinegar can be used in a number of ways as a supplement, in cooking, and as a natural cleaner. Here are the top 13 uses of apple cider vinegar:
- As a weight loss aid. Apple cider vinegar may help you lose weight by decreasing your appetite.
- To improve blood sugar levels. Apple cider vinegar can help improve your blood sugar levels and decrease your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
- To promote healthy digestion. The vinegar may help improve your digestion, allowing you to absorb more nutrients and maintain stable blood sugars (13).
- To help lower cholesterol levels. Supplementing with apple cider vinegar may help lower your blood cholesterol levels, potentially reducing your heart disease risk.
- To make salad dressing. Vinegar, oil, honey, and seasonings can be combined to make a tasty, healthy salad dressing.
- As a marinade. Vinegar, oil, and seasonings can make a flavorful marinade to help season and tenderize meats.
- As a food preservative. Apple cider vinegar can be used in canning to preserve pickles and other fruits or vegetables.
- To wash produce. Diluted apple cider vinegar can be used to wash fresh produce. It can even kill E. coli bacteria (14).
- To add flavor to soups and sauces. The vinegar can add brightness and acidity to rich dishes.
- As an ingredient in vegan desserts. Apple cider vinegar is commonly used as a stabilizer in vegan baked goods instead of eggs.
- To treat sore throats. Diluted apple cider vinegar may help to ease throat pain by killing the bacteria causing the sore throat.
- To cook eggs. Adding vinegar to the water you boil eggs in can make your eggs easier to peel and help poached eggs retain their shape.
As a safe home cleaner. Diluted apple cider vinegar can be used as a safe, natural cleaner because of its antibacterial effects.
Apple cider vinegar is a powerful vinegar that has many potential health effects. It may help with weight loss and blood sugar control, and also shows promise as an anti-bacterial and cancer-killing treatment.
However, most of the research on apple cider vinegar has been done in animals and test-tubes. More human studies are needed.
Whether you choose to supplement with it, cook with it, or use it as a natural cleaner, it’s easy to experience the healthy benefits of apple cider vinegar.