Apple cider vinegar is an ancient concoction that helps with everything from weight loss, to managing blood sugar levels, to curing a sore throat, to treating acid reflux. It’s probably one of the most multipurpose, healthful, and inexpensive things you should have in your pantry right now and it pairs perfectly with the keto lifestyle.
Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is delicious and easy to incorporate into your diet–especially when you use one of the recipes we’ve shared below. Keep reading to uncover apple cider vinegar’s surprising history, its shockingly wide range of uses and benefits, and our favorite (and simple!) apple cider vinegar recipes.
A Surprising Apple Cider Vinegar History
The history of people using apple cider vinegar for health reasons is ancient! It dates back to the Romans, who cultivated apple orchards to enjoy their byproducts. It’s also well known that ancient cultures traditionally used fermented products as part of their diets.
Plus, Hippocrates, the father of medicine, advised his patients to use vinegar for its many benefits and there is no doubt that vinegar made from apples was a popular choice!
What Is Apple Cider Vinegar?
Apple cider vinegar is an edible liquid made from apple juice (the fresh kind, full of naturally occuring sugar) that goes through a fermentation process. It is different from plain apple cider because it has been fermented (and turned into vinegar), and also different from white vinegar, which is made from grains and undergoes a single fermentation process.
Many people also wonder about the differences between hard apple cider–a beer-like alcoholic drink made from apples–and apple cider vinegar. They are, in fact, very similar, though hard cider goes through only one fermentation process, while apple cider vinegar goes through two, the second of which produces acetic acid (more on that later).
Thanks to all the fermentation, apple cider vinegar contains good bacteria and other beneficial probiotics and digestive enzymes.
Modern Use of Apple Cider Vinegar
There are several different kinds of apple cider vinegar:
- Raw vs. pasteurized
- Unfiltered vs. filtered
- Organic vs. nonorganic
The brand of apple cider vinegar doesn’t matter (you can even make homemade apple cider vinegar!), but you want to make sure that the ACV you use is organic, unfiltered, and still contains the “mother.”
The “mother,” the sediment floating in the vinegar that makes it look cloudy, is the source of all the fantastic fermentation. This is why apple cider vinegar is best consumed raw and unfiltered, since pasteurization destroys ACV’s most potent benefits.
It matters if you use organic or nonorganic apple cider vinegar for recipes since vinegar made from nonorganic apples will likely be chock full of pesticides and other nasty additives or GMO ingredients. Yuck! Our favorite brand off the shelf is Bragg’s, since its organic apple cider vinegar meets all our criteria.
Why Do People Use Apple Cider Vinegar?
Apple cider vinegar can be used until the “best by” date stamped on the bottle or label (usually about five years). And you don’t have to drink it; there are tons of great salad dressing, apple butter, and other recipes that use apple cider vinegar. The best way to receive its health benefits, however, is to drink it.
Fortunately, there are lots of good apple cider vinegar recipes for beginners. But first, let’s talk about apple cider vinegar’s incredible health benefits!
People use apple cider vinegar to get better skin, nourish their hair, remove warts, clean their homes, and many other things, but the primary thing that apple cider vinegar is most commonly used for today is its health benefits.
You can consume product made with apple cider vinegar daily, but don’t go overboard. One or two tablespoons a day is plenty to receive the following benefits:
1. Lose Weight
One of ACV’s most potent ingredients is acetic acid and in 2009, a study in Japan found that test subjects dropped weight when they consumed acetic acid daily, even without changes to their diets or lifestyles (1).
A 2005 study fed Swedish volunteer subjects white bread and vinegar, and tested their blood glucose and insulin responses with and without vinegar. Those who took vinegar after their bread had much better blood glucose and insulin responses than those who did not.
Further, the vinegar helped the test subjects feel more full after their meal. The study concluded that “the results indicate an interesting potential of fermented and pickled products containing acetic acid” (2) with regards to weight loss and better blood sugar levels.
A similar study that same year found complementary results (3).
As a side note, if you’re struggling with lowering your triglycerides, AVC can help you by making you feel more full more quickly, thus helping you avoid white breads and other foods that can raise your triglyceride levels.
2. Regulate Your Blood Sugar
Apple cider vinegar may also be able to help with the regulation of blood sugar levels.
In addition to the studies we mentioned above, which showed vinegar helping to manage blood glucose and insulin after eating, a study published in the academic journal Diabetes Care stated in its abstract that, “vinegar improves insulin sensitivity to a high-carbohydrate meal in subjects with insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes” (4).
3. Get Better, Faster
The acetic acid in vinegar has been shown to effectively kill tuberculosis bacteria (5), and it’s able to help promote the immune system and detox the lymph nodes. I also love it when I have a sore throat–apple cider vinegar and honey are a powerful antimicrobial combination!
4. Manage Blood Pressure and Cholesterol
Animal studies suggest that the polyphenols in apple cider vinegar may help raise your good cholesterol levels while also lowering your bad cholesterol levels (6), while a long-term study of nurses found that those who consumed vinegar regularly had a much lower risk of heart disease (7).
5. Acid Reflux
Using apple cider vinegar for acid reflux is an old folk remedy that also happens to be one of our favorites. Modern medicine can’t fully explain how it works (yet!), but lots of people swear by it–especially women who are pregnant and don’t want to take Tums or other antacids.
Top Apple Cider Vinegar Recipes (Including Perfect Beginner Apple Cider Vinegar Recipes)
The best apple cider vinegar recipes combine raw, unfiltered, organic apple cider vinegar with other powerful, natural ingredients, such as honey, ginger, and turmeric. I’ve listed my favorite recipes below, but don’t forget to scroll down to the comments and let me know your favorite recipes!
1. Fire Cider
Fire cider became common in the natural community when it was it was introduced by popular herbalist Rosemary Gladstar. It uses immunity-boosting powerhouses like horseradish, turmeric, and ginger, as well as jalapeno peppers, garlic, onion, lemon, and (of course) apple cider vinegar to help with congestion and circulation.
True fire cider needs to sit for at least a month to allow the vinegar to do its work in extracting all the goodness for the other ingredients, but once it’s made up, you can use it as a daily preventative treatment or use it to treat a cold or flu.
It’s spicy thanks to the horseradish and jalapeno peppers, but you can sweeten it with honey and even tone down the use of hot ingredients. You can even experiment with other flavors, such as rosemary, cinnamon, chili powder, or cardamom.
Mommypotamus has a great basic fire cider recipe based on Rosemary Gladstar’s, or you can try some of the variations Emily Han suggests in The Kitchn.
2. Dr. Axe’s Secret Detox Drink
Natural health and wellness medical professional Dr. Josh Axe swears by this so-called “secret” drink, made from apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, ground ginger, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, and local raw honey.
While it’s difficult to completely remove ourselves from the toxins all around us, the ingredients in this recipe are easy to throw together (you might even have them all in your pantry right now) and don’t need any special equipment, like a juicer or a blender. It’s one of the best uses of apple cider vinegar for people who are new to using it.
You can serve this detox drink warm or cold; it’s one of my favorite beginner apple cider vinegar recipes. It’s also one of Dr. Axe’s go-to drinks because as he says, detox drinks like these “keep me feeling clear-headed and energized, even after a long and tiring week.”
3. Apple Cider Vinegar Mocktail Recipe (The Ginger Switchel)
The Ginger Switchel is an apple cider vinegar mocktail recipe, meaning it’s similar to a cocktail, but isn’t alcoholic. Instead, it’s a modern drink that has ancient roots.
Similar to a “shrub,” an old-fashioned vinegar drink that dates back to ancient times when people added vinegar to water to make it safe to drink, this switchel recipe uses two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar mixed with a sweetener (you can use honey or even molasses for a fun, old school twist) and fresh or ground ginger.
This mixture is then poured over sparkling water or flat water and ice for a delicious, refreshing beverage.
4. Apple Cider Vinegar Berry Lemonade
Speaking of delicious and refreshing, if you prefer iced or cold drinks to hot drinks, you’ll love this Berry Lemonade made with Apple Cider Vinegar. It’s simple and summery, and makes use of the natural sweetness of berries to counter the tartness of the lemon and ACV.
You can use a sweetener like honey if the berries aren’t sweet enough for you, but make sure you make enough to share, because everyone will want some of what you’re drinking! I think a spring of mint would be another delicious twist to add to this drink.
5. Nourishing Hot Apple Cider Vinegar Tea
This recipe for hot tea is as simple and easy as it sounds–just two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and two tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice in a mug of hot water, with fresh, raw honey to taste, and you’ve got a delicious, soothing cup that makes a perfect morning digestion boost or after-dinner treat.
6. After-Dinner Turmeric Spritzer (Mocktail)
Another fun apple cider vinegar mocktail recipe, this one uses turmeric and fresh ginger, powerful spices well known for their anti-inflammatory properties.
You’ll combine these with freshly squeezed orange juice (gotta love that vitamin C), sage leaves and sprigs of rosemary and mint, water, apple cider vinegar, and a surprising ingredient–digestive bitters! Digestive bitters are herbs that help you digest your food, so they pair perfectly with ACV, especially if you’re using the vinegar to ease digestive woes.
This bright yellow drink is fun and exciting, as well as delicious and full of great health benefits.
7. The Ultimate Strep Throat Remedy
Strep throat is horrible, and if you’ve ever had it, I know you’ll agree with me! Fortunately, apple cider vinegar is an amazing front-line defense against the infection.
This recipe from Red and Honey instructs you to make a tea that you gargle with, though I’ve seen other recipes for mixing ACV with honey and fresh, crushed garlic and eating it by the spoonful (you have to LOVE garlic to get that one down!).
What is your favorite way to use apple cider vinegar? Let us know in the comments below!
- Kondo, T., Kishi, M., Fushimi, T., Ugajin, S., & Kaga, T. (2009). Vinegar intake reduces body weight, body fat mass, and serum triglyceride levels in obese Japanese subjects. Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry, 73(8), 1837-43. Abstract: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19661687
- Ostman, E., Granfeldt, Y., Persson, L., & Björck, I. (2005) Vinegar supplementation lowers glucose and insulin responses and increases satiety after a bread meal in healthy subjects. European journal of clinical nutrition, 59(9), 983-8. Abstract: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16015276
- Johnston, C.S., & Buller, A.J. (2005) Vinegar and peanut products as complementary foods to reduce postprandial glycemia. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 105(12), 1939-42. Abstract: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16321601
- Johnston, C.S., Kim, C.M., & Buller, A.J. (2004) Vinegar improves insulin sensitivity to a high-carbohydrate meal in subjects with insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care, 27(1), 281-2. Abstract: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14694010
- Cortesia, C. Vilcheze, C. Bernut, A. Contreras, W. Gomez, K. De Waard, J. Jacobs, W. Kremer, L. Takiff, H. Acetic Acid, The Active Component of Vinegar, Is An Effective Tuberculocidal Disinfectant. Retrieved from: https://mbio.asm.org/content/5/2/e00013-14
- Dr. Axe (2018). 20 Apple Cider Vinegar Uses + 6 Health Benefits. Retrieved from: https://draxe.com/apple-cider-vinegar-uses/
- Dr. Jockers (2018). 12 Ways to Use Apple Cider Vinegar. Retrieved from: https://drjockers.com/12-ways-use-apple-cider-vinegar/
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I use ACV 2tablespoons w 24 ounces filtered water, cinnamon powder or oil and a tablespoon of manuka honey. Stir till honey blends in and sip after 7pm. In the morning I feel really good. I also use acv as shampoo and conditioner for hair, as toner for face, for earaches, sore throats and in my lady parts to prevent yeast infections and to clean house. Hate the taste but love the benefits.
Great ways to use ACV! Thanks so much for sharing!