Research suggests that apple cider vinegar may have beneficial health properties, including antimicrobial and antioxidant effects.
Apple cider vinegar is a popular home remedy. People have used it for centuries in cooking and natural medicine. It may have some health benefits.
These may include:
- aiding weight loss
- reducing cholesterol
- lowering blood sugar levels
- improving the symptoms of diabetes
However, little research exists, and further studies are needed before it can be recommended as an alternative therapy.
This article examines the evidence behind six possible health benefits of apple cider vinegar.
Acetic acid is vinegar’s primary active compound, giving it its strong sour smell and flavor. Researchers believe this acid is responsible for apple cider vinegar’s health benefits. Cider vinegars are 5–6% acetic acid (1).
Organic, unfiltered apple cider vinegar also contains a substance called mother, which consists of strands of proteins, enzymes, and friendly bacteria that give the product a murky appearance.
Some people believe the mother is responsible for most of its health benefits, although no studies currently support this.
While apple cider vinegar does not contain many vitamins or minerals, quality brands may contain some amino acids and antioxidants (1).
Apple cider vinegar is made by fermenting the sugar from apples. This turns them into acetic acid, which is a main active ingredient in vinegar and may be responsible for its health benefits.
Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, used vinegar to clean wounds more than 2,000 years ago.
If you’re looking for a natural way to preserve your food, apple cider vinegar could help.
Anecdotal reports also suggest that diluted apple cider vinegar could help with acne when applied to the skin, but there doesn’t seem to be any strong research to confirm this.
The main substance in vinegar — acetic acid — can kill harmful bacteria or prevent them from multiplying. It has a history of use as a disinfectant and natural preservative.
To date, one of the most convincing applications of vinegar is helping treat type 2 diabetes.
However, people without diabetes can also benefit from keeping their blood sugar levels in the typical range, as some researchers believe that high blood sugar levels are a major cause of aging and various chronic diseases (
The most effective and healthful way to regulate blood sugar levels is to eat a balanced diet low in refined carbs and sugar, but apple cider vinegar may also have a beneficial effect.
A 2019 clinical trial suggests apple vinegar consumption may have beneficial effects on the glycemic index and oxidative stress in individuals with diabetes and dyslipidemia (
A 2021 review of clinical trials found that ACV consumption may benefit glycemic status in adults. But the studies’ authors note that the finding should be interpreted with caution, as more extensive studies are still needed to better understand apple cider vinegar’s potential benefits (
The National Centers for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) says it’s important that people do not replace medical treatment with unproven health products (
Apple cider vinegar is generally recognized as safe. But if you’re taking blood-sugar-lowering medications, talk with a doctor before increasing your vinegar intake.
Apple cider vinegar has shown promise in improving insulin sensitivity and helping lower blood sugar responses after meals.
Perhaps surprisingly, studies show that vinegar could help people lose weight.
Several human studies show that vinegar can increase feelings of fullness. This can lead to eating fewer calories and losing weight.
One review of research noted that in short-term studies, when participants consumed apple cider vinegar with a meal containing solid foods, they experienced appetite suppression for 120 minutes after the meal. They also snacked less for 3 to 24 hours after consuming the apple cider vinegar (
However, the longer-term studies they reviewed showed no relationship between apple cider vinegar and appetite suppression (
That said, simply adding or subtracting single foods or ingredients rarely has a noticeable effect on weight. Long-term weight loss is created by adopting helpful and supportive diet and lifestyle habits.
Overall, apple cider vinegar may contribute to weight loss by promoting satiety, lowering blood sugar, and reducing insulin levels.
Apple cider vinegar only contains about three calories per tablespoon, which is very low.
Some studies suggest that vinegar can increase feelings of fullness and help you eat fewer calories, which may lead to weight loss.
Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death (
Several biological factors can affect your risk for heart disease.
Research suggests that vinegar could possibly improve some of them. But many studies on apple cider vinegar’s benefits were conducted in animals, which may not reflect the benefits in humans.
A 2020 review of studies in both humans and animals noted that apple cider vinegar may potentially benefit levels of high-density lipoprotein, low-density lipoprotein, triglycerides, and total cholesterol (
A 2021 review of research in humans found that apple cider vinegar may benefit total cholesterol levels (
But both reviews pointed to limitations in the quality and size of research available to support these claims.
Researchers need to do more studies before reaching any strong conclusions.
Several animal studies have shown that vinegar can reduce blood triglycerides, cholesterol, and blood pressure. However, there is no strong evidence that it leads to a reduced risk of heart disease in humans.
Some people use apple cider vinegar as a common remedy for skin conditions like dry skin and eczema.
The skin is naturally slightly acidic. But it may be less acidic in people with eczema. Using diluted topical apple cider vinegar topically may help rebalance the skin’s natural pH, improving the protective skin barrier (15,
On the other hand, alkaline soaps and cleansers could irritate eczema, prompting a flare-up (17).
Given its antibacterial properties, diluted apple cider vinegar could, in theory, help prevent skin infections linked to eczema and other skin conditions.
Some people use diluted apple cider vinegar in a face wash or toner. The idea is that it can kill bacteria and prevent spots.
However, one study of 22 people with eczema reported that apple cider vinegar soaks did not improve the skin barrier and caused skin irritation (
Talk with a doctor before trying new remedies, especially on damaged skin. Avoid applying undiluted vinegar to the skin, as it can cause burns.
Apple cider vinegar is naturally acidic and has antimicrobial properties. This means it could help improve the skin barrier and prevent infections in theory. But more studies are needed to know how safe and effective this remedy is.
The best way to incorporate apple cider vinegar into your diet is to use it in cooking. It’s a simple addition to foods like salad dressings and homemade mayonnaise.
Some people also like to dilute it in water and drink it as a beverage. Standard dosages range from 1–2 teaspoons (5–10 mL) to 1–2 tablespoons (15–30 mL) per day mixed in a large glass of water.
It’s best to start with small doses and avoid taking large amounts. Too much vinegar can cause harmful side effects, including tooth enamel erosion and potential drug interactions.
Some dietitians recommend using organic, unfiltered apple cider vinegar that contains “mother.”
A common dosage for apple cider vinegar ranges from 1 teaspoon to 2 tablespoons (10–30 mL) per day, either used in cooking or mixed in a glass of water.
Many websites and natural healthcare proponents claim that apple cider vinegar has exceptional health benefits, including boosting energy and treating disease.
Unfortunately, there’s little research to support most claims about its health benefits.
That said, some studies suggest it may offer some benefits, including killing bacteria, lowering blood sugar levels, and promoting weight loss.
Apple cider vinegar appears safe when diluted as long as you don’t take excessive amounts of it.
It also has various other non-health–related uses, including as a natural hair conditioner, skin care product, and cleaning agent.