There’s a good chance that you or someone you know has had experiences with high blood pressure. Blood pressure is the force of your blood pushing against your artery walls, sort of like water in a pipe when you turn on a faucet. The blood is pushed from your heart to other parts of your body. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explain just how common high blood pressure is:

  • One in 3 American adults, or about 75 million people, have high blood pressure.
  • About half of people with high blood pressure don’t have it under control.
  • In 2014, more than 400,000 deaths were caused by high blood pressure or had high blood pressure as a contributing factor.

Apple cider vinegar is seen as a popular “cure all” for many illnesses and conditions. These include stomach upset, high cholesterol, and sore throats. It’s true that this treatment dates back thousands of years. The ancient Greek doctor Hippocrates used apple cider vinegar for wound care, and in the 10th century it was used with sulfur as a hand wash during autopsies to help prevent infection.

Studies show that apple cider vinegar may play a role in keeping your blood pressure low. However, it should be used alongside other treatments and lifestyle changes as well. It’s not a “cure-all,” but it may help.

Researchers have only started looking into how vinegar may help lower blood pressure. Most of their studies have been conducted on animals and not people. While more research needs to be done, some studies show that apple cider vinegar may be useful.

Lowering renin activity

Apple cider vinegar mostly contains acetic acid. In one study, rats with high blood pressure were given vinegar over a long period of time. The study showed that the rats had a decrease in blood pressure and in an enzyme called renin. The researchers believe that the lowered renin activity caused the lowered blood pressure. A similar study showed that the acetic acid might also help with calcium absorption.

Lowering blood glucose

Lowering blood glucose may help lower blood pressure as well. The prescription medication Metformin, used for lowering glucose in those with diabetes, lowered blood pressure in a recent study. Because vinegar also helped lower blood glucose in rats in another study, some believe apple cider vinegar might help lower blood pressure in this way. However, more research is needed for a clear connection between the two.

Lowering weight

High blood pressure and obesity often go hand in hand. Using apple cider vinegar in place of high-fat and high-salt dressings and oils may be a helpful change you can make to your diet. Lowering your salt intake can help you both manage your blood pressure and trim your waistline. This method works best when used with an overall healthy diet that includes potassium-rich foods like spinach and avocados.

Lowering cholesterol

A 2012 study with 19 participants showed that consuming apple cider vinegar over eight weeks led to lower cholesterol. High blood cholesterol and high blood pressure often work together to accelerate heart disease. They can damage the blood vessels and your heart more quickly. When you consume apple cider vinegar, you may be able to lower both cholesterol and blood pressure at the same time.

So, how do you make apple cider vinegar part of your diet? You may want to aim for about 3 teaspoons per day, and at concentrations of 3–9 percent. The vinegar can of course be very hard to handle all by itself, but you can mix it with other flavors to make it go down easy. Here are some ideas:

  • Add it to cooked popcorn.
  • Drizzle it over meat or vegetables.
  • Add it to a smoothie.
  • Mix it with olive oil and herbs for salad dressing.
  • Try it in a tea mixed with water and a bit of honey.
  • Make a cayenne pepper tonic by adding 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar and 1/16 teaspoon cayenne pepper to a cup of water.
  • Drink a shot of apple cider vinegar in place of coffee.

There are other dietary measures you will want to take to help your blood pressure as well. Many of these other measures have been studied more thoroughly. Check labels to make sure the sodium levels aren’t too high. Choose low-sodium options when you can, such as with chicken broth and soy sauce. Make foods from scratch to control how much salt is added, such as with soups and hamburger patties.

If you’re working with a doctor to control your blood pressure, it’s important to continue to follow their advice. Keep taking any prescribed medications and follow any recommended routines. Apple cider vinegar may play a role in lowering blood pressure, but more studies are needed. However, there don’t appear to be any risks involved with using apple cider vinegar in moderation.