By Jill Levy
While apple cider vinegar (ACV) has become a trendy “detox” ingredient in recent years, did you know that it’s actually been used for its health-promoting benefits for centuries? Even Hippocrates himself — referred to as the “father of medicine,” as he was an ancient Greek physician— was a fan of ACV.
Today, you’re most likely to find ACV in recipes such as mocktails, smoothies, marinades or salad dressings, and even some DIY skin care formulations. Traditionally, it was used to help unlock the nutrient content of certain foods such as vegetables, for example by unleashing minerals from leafy greens, or taken as a beverage for digestive support.
Why should you make apple cider vinegar a regular part of your diet and supplement routine? Because health benefits of apple cider vinegar include: supporting healthy microbial balance (in vitro studies), promoting a healthy pH balance in the body, potentially supporting a healthy body weight and composition (in conjunction with an overall health diet and lifestyle, including regular exercise), and more.
Let’s look at how you can use ACV at home, both when cooking and preparing healthy beverages, plus new types of herbal apple cider vinegar supplements that go above and beyond to offer you bodywide benefits.
Of course, you should always consult your healthcare professional prior to beginning any new dietary or lifestyle regimen, including herbal apple cider vinegar supplementation.
What Is Apple Cider Vinegar?
Vinegar itself is an acidic solution that can be made from a variety of sources, including fruits, vegetables and grains.
Apple cider vinegar is a type of vinegar produced from apples. Traditionally-prepared ACV is made by fermentation of sugars found naturally in apples (historically, organic apples were used, which are grown without use of toxic pesticides).
During the first stage of the process, sugars from apples are fermented (broken down) by yeasts to create cider. This produces ethanol (alcohol), which then ferments more and produces vinegar. You can see why the word “vinegar” comes from the French language and means “sour wine.”
Why Is It Important to Choose Organic Apple Cider Vinegar?
There are several key differences between organic and non-organic apple cider vinegar. The main differences are:
- Organic apple cider vinegar is typically unfiltered, meaning bacteria and yeasts used to ferment the apples into vinegar remain intact (these are known as "the mother"). These microbes are beneficial for health, so we don’t want to lose them if the ACV is processed and filtered. Look for organic ACV with a slightly cloudy appearance to know it hasn’t been filtered.
- Non-organic apple cider vinegar is pasteurized, meaning it’s heated to the point of killing healthy bacteria and microbes. There is a greater diversity of good bacteria found in organic ACV versus those found in non-organic apple cider vinegar.
- Non-organic varieties of apple cider vinegar are usually made using toxic pesticides, genetic modification and synthetic fertilization, while organic ACV prohibits the use of those products and methods
Why exactly is apple cider vinegar good for you?
As ACV is formed, acetic acid is produced, which is one of the health-promoting compounds found in apple cider vinegar. In addition to acetic acid, organic and fermented ACV contains other acids, vitamins, mineral salts, amino acids and polyphenol antioxidants.
Due to the presence of these compounds, it’s thought that ACV can offer support for healthy digestion, overall health, cellular health and more.
Here’s more about the many apple cider vinegar benefits we know of:
- Can help support healthy microbial balance.
- May support overall healthy weight management and a healthy body composition (when combined with a healthy diet and lifestyle, including exercise).
- May help support appetite control; some find that consuming ACV reduces cravings and supports satiety.
- Promotes a healthy pH balance, due to the acidic qualities of vinegar.
- Can offer support for cardiovascular health (in animal studies).
- Supports healthy body composition, including healthy bodily fat (visceral and subcutaneous fat mass).
- Promotes healthy antioxidant levels (in animal studies) and supports healthy oxidative stress levels (in adults).
- Provides bioactive compounds, including amino acids, organic acids and polyphenols.
- May help reduce fatigue (in animal studies).
Combining organic herbs with fermented, organic apple cider vinegar results in even more bodywide benefits than consuming plain ACV. For example, Ancient Nutrition’s Herbal Cider Vinegar Tincture includes 10+ organic superfoods that are brimming with antioxidants and other beneficial compounds.
How to Use
If you’d like to consume apple cider vinegar on a regular basis, you have a bunch of options in terms of which formulas and types to purchase. Here’s more about how to shop for high-quality ACV, and how to add herbal cider vinegar supplements to your daily routine.
1. Apple Cider Vinegar
ACV can be found in glass bottles in most health food stores and supermarkets, plus online. It has a tart taste on its own, but the flavor can be enhanced with the addition of honey, herbs such as ginger or juice.
As mentioned above, you always want to purchase organic apple cider vinegar if possible, which will typically provide the highest variety of healthy microbes.
A general recommendation for adults is to consume about 1–2 tablespoons per day of ACV, such as mixed into water, juice, salad dressing or a smoothie.
If one of your main goals is to use ACV for appetite and body composition benefits, consider using it along with a restricted-calorie diet or intermittent fasting. (Be sure to consult your healthcare professional first, though.) For digestive benefits, combine it with other beneficial ingredients like ginger, lemon juice, leafy greens, turmeric and olive oil.
Ancient Nutrition’s Herbal Cider Vinegar joins the power of vinegar with the benefits of nutrient-filled herbs, berries and roots.
This formula features a powerful blend of fermented ACV and 10+ organic superfoods grown right on our own regenerative farm. These include such superfoods as turmeric, moringa leaf, sumac berry, guava, passionfruit, holy basil leaf, elderberry, key lime, feijoa and goji.
We use only organic, unfiltered apple cider vinegar, ensuring that the bacteria and yeasts used to ferment the apples into vinegar are still present.
Herbal Cider Vinegar Tincture is a liquid tonic that’s taken by dropper. Adults can take 2 dropperfuls (2 ml) one or more times daily, such as in juice or salad dressing.
For the same benefits of our Herbal Cider Vinegar Tincture in an easy-to-take formula, try our Herbal Cider Vinegar Capsules. Just like the tincture, these are made with organic, unfiltered ACV plus a superfood blend of antioxidant-rich herbs, berries and roots. Adults take two capsules per day.
Our new Herbal Cider Vinegar Gummies have a delicious strawberry-apple flavor and feature ACV, our proprietary blend of 10+ superfoods, plus more than 100 percent of your daily needs for vitamin B-12 (as cyanocobalamin).
This combination is ideal for digestive, cognitive and cellular energy support. Adults and children over 4 can chew two gummies daily at any time of day.
Jill Levy has been with the Dr. Axe and Ancient Nutrition team for five years. She completed her undergraduate degree in Psychology from Fairfield University, followed by a certification as a Holistic Health Coach from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Jill takes a “non-diet” approach to health and really enjoys teaching others about mindful eating, intuitive eating and the benefits of eating real foods.