There’s a lot of information—and misinformation—swirling around out there about the benefits of apple cider vinegar. While this colorful, tangy vinegar may not work absolute miracles like making puppies appear at your office, it does do some pretty amazing things. Keep reading for five proven benefits of this flavorful nutritional aid.
1. Smoother Digestion
Taking a little apple cider vinegar just before you eat can help your stomach break down food and aid with overall digestion. There are a couple of great side effects: First, it can help reduce bloating and heartburn. And if your stomach doesn’t make enough acid on its own, the boost of the vinegar’s acetic contents can help you extract more nutrients from your food.
2. An Extra Zap of Energy
Apple cider vinegar is also very popular as a natural energy drink. The tangy flavor of a couple tablespoons mixed with water or hot tea is guaranteed to wake you up. You also get a probiotic boost—these friendly bacteria have all kinds of beneficial effects, from reducing stomach problems to boosting your mood.
3. It Promotes Fat-Burning
Reducing stress—which in turn lowers cortisol levels—is often cited as the answer to losing that persistent belly fat, but apple cider vinegar can help too. The lowered blood sugar, and reduced insulin and enzyme levels that apple cider vinegar triggers can all help promote fat-burning, especially around the midsection.
4. Better Heart Health
If you have high cholesterol, apple cider vinegar can reduce cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and even prevent a range of heart problems. But because it can affect such vital systems of your body, this is definitely something you should discuss with your doctor—just in case it affects any existing medications.
5. Antibacterial and Anti-itching
When mosquitoes get through your defenses, the results can be maddeningly itchy bites. But apple cider can save the day! Dab a 50-50 mix of vinegar and water onto your skin and it’ll soothe the itch away and help lessen the swelling, too. But that’s not all: As long as your apple cider vinegar contains at least 5 percent acetic acid—which is typical of any commercial product—it has high antibacterial properties. That backs up a popular, folksy use of a 50-50 mix of apple cider vinegar and warm water as a gargle to help cure a sore throat, and of course you can use it for cleaning around the house, too.
How to take Apple Cider Vinegar
Ready to give apple cider vinegar a try? Some people swear by taking it as a nightly tonic. But many experts say that the best way to take it is by mixing 1 to 2 tablespoons into a glass of water and drinking it on an empty stomach, just before food. You can also sneak it into your salad dressing. There’s no need to take it straight or to go overboard with higher amounts—in fact, if you do, the high quantity of acetic acid might leave you feeling pretty uncomfortable.
Here’s one other thing to keep in mind: Because vinegar is such powerful stuff, it can actually interact with some medications. So, if you’re on any of these, it’s better to be safe than sorry and talk to your doctor before you start taking any of this bottled gold.