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Apple cider vinegar benefits: with & without "the mother"

Laura Harcourt

Written byLaura Harcourt

Apple cider vinegar on a wooden cutting board with apple slices
What are the main benefits of taking apple cider vinegar? And what is 'The Mother'? Find out all you need to know about ACV from our helpful guide.
Apple cider vinegar is often praised by celebrities and influencers for its health benefits. But does the science back up these claims? Let’s find out.

You’ve probably heard some wonderful things about apple cider vinegar already, including how it adds a distinct flavour to salad dressings, soups, and much more. Some people even claim that it has the potential to lower blood sugar, aid weight loss, soothe blemish-prone skin, help digestion, and even boost your immune system, but what does the science say?

In this article, we’ll give you an insight into this hugely popular vinegar; lifting the lid on what it is, what the ‘mother’ reference is all about, and, more importantly, the potential benefits of adding apple cider vinegar to your diet.

What is apple cider vinegar?

As we’ve just mentioned, apple cider vinegar is a type of vinegar. It’s produced during the apple cider fermentation process. The process involves fermenting the sugar that’s naturally present in apples by adding yeast and/or bacteria to the cider. Over time, the cider turns into alcohol and then vinegar.

This vinegar is touted by many influencers in the media to have lots of benefits for the human body, helping everything from weight loss to heart health and even dandruff. Whilst there is some evidence from small studies to show this could be possible, there are also studies that showed apple cider vinegar had no impact on these things at all.1

Whilst it might not look as appealing, the potential benefits of apple cider vinegar certainly are. We’ve listed some of the properties of apple cider vinegar praised in the media and shared some recent research down below, or watch our video:

Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar

6 potential apple cider vinegar benefits

There are plenty of benefits of adding apple cider vinegar to your soups and salads, and some are even related to health… but not all are scientifically backed. So how do you know what’s true? Well, we’re on hand to help.

Most of the research for apple cider vinegar has been done on small sample sizes, had a short duration, and other limitations. From the studies available, we’ve dissected the possible benefits of apple cider vinegar from preliminary results, but more robust clinical studies are needed to confirm these…
  1. May help improve digestion – It has been suggested by some influencers that apple cider vinegar can help with the digestion of food, but the research here is still very limited.1 We’ve got more information on the benefits of apple cider vinegar for digestion here
  2. May aid with weight loss – The use of apple cider vinegar (ACV) for weight loss is widely praised by celebrities and influencers all suggesting the use of ACV as a weight loss aid. One 2019 study in obese and normal rats showed that one of the active elements in apple cider vinegar had the potential to lower body weight.2 Another found that apple cider vinegar was an effective strategy for helping modify diets in people who were overweight.2  However, the sample size was small and more research would be needed to confirm these results. 
  3. May help prevent bloating – The sensation of bloating can be incredibly uncomfortable and sometimes painful. In 2021, a case study involving one woman reported that apple cider vinegar was successfully used as part of a naturopathic treatment for gastrointestinal problems, with the symptoms subsiding within 4 weeks of treatment.3
  4. May lower blood sugar levels – A 2016 review of apple cider vinegar studies concluded that an active element of apple cider vinegar was effective at dealing with high blood sugar levels.4
  5. May fight dandruff – Anecdotally, apple cider vinegar is thought to be useful to help improve the condition of hair, including making it shinier.5  There isn’t much scientific research to back this up, but one 2019 study did find that a combination of apple cider vinegar and lemon juice was effective at fighting and preventing dandruff in the petri dish.6
  6. May improve heart health – One study found that taking apple cider vinegar lowers the amount of fats in the body which are harmful to the heart.7

While many of the benefits sound appealing, there is no concrete scientific evidence for any of these claims. These studies are not enough to draw any strong conclusions, especially since some of these have been done in-vitro (not in humans) or a small group of people. But, with the hype around ACV and the promising early results, why not try sprinkling some ACV on your next dinner!

FAQs

How do you take apple cider vinegar?

There are plenty of ways you can take apple cider vinegar, including diluted with water or even as ACV gummies.

Here are some of the most popular ways to take apple cider vinegar: 
  • Diluted with water – Adding undiluted apple cider vinegar to water is quick and easy. If you’re already drinking lemon water in the morning or honey and lemon, a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in your water is an easy and quick change to make. 
  • Apple cider vinegar gummies – Gummies are a popular way to take vitamins. They’re quick and easy to integrate into your diet. The recommended dosage varies by brand, but most suggest taking 1-2 gummies daily. Always check the product label to be sure! 
  • Apple cider vinegar tablets – If you’re not keen on gummies, apple cider vinegar tablets are pretty much the same, just slightly less chewy. Swallow with water. 
  • Adding apple cider vinegar to food – apple cider vinegar’s original purpose is as a vinegar, so why not try it on food? Try using a blend of apple cider vinegar, crushed garlic, salt, pepper, and a little bit of oil as a salad dressing. Delicious!

What is ‘The Mother’?

ACV comes in two types, with the ‘mother’ and without. In simple terms, apple cider vinegar with the mother just means that it contains the good bacteria created during the fermenting process. ACV without the mother has this bacteria filtered out.8

The ‘mother’ also contains good bacteria that help with digestive health, aiding in the fermentation of alcohol into acetic acid.9

Even though apple cider vinegar without the mother has been filtered, it doesn't mean it loses all its properties. But choosing ACV with the mother means you get even more of the good stuff.

What are the side effects of apple cider vinegar?

Apple cider vinegar may have benefits to your health, but it’s important to remember that it’s quite acidic and should be treated with care.

Apple cider vinegar has a few side effects that you should be aware of. For instance, apple cider vinegar may: 
  • Cause chemical burns – it has been known to burn the skin if used as a topical treatment, for example, to remove a wart.10
  • Lead to tooth damage – The high acid content in apple cider vinegar could erode the enamel on your teeth over time.11
  • Nausea and indigestion – If ACV is drunk undiluted, it can make you feel sick or cause acid reflux.12
  • Low potassium levels – If you are taking diuretics or heart medication, taking ACV could lead to low potassium levels.13
  • Injure the digestive tract (throat, oesophagus, and stomach) – The highly acidic nature of ACV means that it can be damaging if consumed undiluted and in large quantities.14
  • Cause blood sugar levels to drop too low – Due to apple cider vinegar’s potential blood sugar-lowering properties, it’s advisable to check with your GP, especially if you’re thinking of taking it as a diabetic.15
  • Allergic reactions – Allergies to ACV are relatively common, and you may not be aware that you have one.16  You should be aware that if you have allergies to either apples or pectin, ACV will trigger those allergies.19 If you experience any unexpected side effects after taking ACV, such as a rash, trouble breathing, or swollen eyes and throat, contact your doctor immediately.

Is it safe to drink apple cider vinegar every day?

Yes, for most people, it’s perfectly safe to drink apple cider vinegar every day. However, everything in moderation, and we recommend diluting ACV with water! We’ve got a full article explaining why it’s safe to take apple cider vinegar every day here.

Speak to your GP if you have specific dietary requirements, taking medication, allergies, or concerns before taking ACV regularly.

The final say

Apple cider vinegar has been proven to be safe, with some small studies showing it might help with digestion, weight loss, blood sugar levels, and even bloating.1,2,3,4,8

But it’s important to remember that the research is still up and coming, plenty more needs to be done before we can say it definitely has health benefits, and you need to take apple cider vinegar safely. Never drink it without diluting it. In the meantime, it can help improve the taste of your salads and chutneys, so why not give it a try?

If you’re thinking about adding ACV to your diet, we’re here to help. We have plenty of apple cider vinegar supplements, including gummies and tablets, as well as undiluted apple cider vinegar.

If you’d like to know more about apple cider vinegar, we’ve got plenty of information on how to take apple cider vinegar safely, as well as the effects of apple cider vinegar on the stomach.

Sources

1. Kausar S, Humayun A, Ahmed Z, Abbas MA, Tahir A. Effect of apple cider vinegar on glycemic control, hyperlipidemia and control on body weight in type 2 diabetes patients. Health Sciences. 2019. Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Ayesha-Humayun/publication/333673829_Effect_of_Apple_Cider_Vinegar_on_Glycemic_Control_Hyperlipidemia_and_Control_on_Body_Weight_in_Type_2_Diabetes_Patients/links/5cfe28db4585157d159ff700/Effect-of-Apple-Cider-Vinegar-on-Glycemic-Control-Hyperlipidemia-and-Control-on-Body-Weight-in-Type-2-Diabetes-Patients.pdf?crsi=6624969130&cicada_org_src=healthwebmagazine.com&cicada_org_mdm=direct
2. Khezri SS, Saidpour A, Hosseinzadeh N, Amiri Z. Beneficial effects of Apple Cider Vinegar on weight management, Visceral Adiposity Index and lipid profile in overweight or obese subjects receiving restricted calorie diet: A randomized clinical trial. Journal of functional foods. 2018. Available at:https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1756464618300483
3. Pistoia JC, Chandler L. Naturopathic approach to functional dyspepsia: A case report. Integrative Medicine: A Clinician's Journal. 2021. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8594970/
4. Morgan J, Sapha Shibeeb. The Potential of Apple Cider Vinegar in the Management of Type 2 Diabetes [Internet]. ResearchGate. Hindawi; 2016 [cited 2024 Feb 9]. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/313099915_The_Potential_of_Apple_Cider_Vinegar_in_the_Management_of_Type_2_Diabetes
6. Arun PP, Vineetha Y, Waheed M, Ravikanth K. Quantification of the minimum amount of lemon juice and apple cider vinegar required for the growth inhibition of dandruff causing fungi Malassezia furfur. Int. J. Sci. Res. in Biological Sciences Vol. 2019. Available at: https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/552a/7bc261d6803e619352494266aeb9af897f86.pdf/amp/
7. Hadi A, Pourmasoumi M, Najafgholizadeh A, Clark CC, Esmaillzadeh A. The effect of apple cider vinegar on lipid profiles and glycemic parameters: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials. BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies. 2021. Available at: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1186/s12906-021-03351-w
8. Saqib A. Antimicrobial activity of apple cider vinegar. Mapana Journal of sciences. 2017 Apr 7;16(2):11-5. Available at: https://core.ac.uk/reader/236435410
9. Štornik A, Skok B, Trček J. Comparison of cultivable acetic acid bacterial microbiota in organic and conventional apple cider vinegar. Food technology and Biotechnology. 2016 Mar 31;54(1):113-9. Available at: https://hrcak.srce.hr/clanak/228650
10. Feldstein S, Afshar M, Krakowski AC. Chemical Burn from Vinegar Following an Internet-based Protocol for Self-removal of Nevi. The Journal of clinical and aesthetic dermatology [Internet]. 2015 [cited 2024 Feb 9];8(6):50. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4479370/
11. Akter R, Md Ali Asgor, Sheikh B, Das S. pH and titratable acidity levels of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages contrast with the threshold pH... [Internet]. ResearchGate. unknown; 2023 [cited 2024 Feb 9]. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/373977523_pH_and_titratable_acidity_levels_of_alcoholic_and_non-alcoholic_beverages_contrast_with_the_threshold_pH_level_for_tooth_enamel_demineralization/
12. Yagnik D, Serafin V, J. Shah A. Antimicrobial activity of apple cider vinegar against Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus and Candida albicans; downregulating cytokine and microbial protein expression. Scientific reports. 2018 Jan 29;8(1):1732. Available at:https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-017-18618-x
13. Martini N. Apple cider vinegar. Journal of Primary Health Care. 2021. Available at: https://www.publish.csiro.au/hc/fulltext/hc19561?crsi=6624972164&cicada_org_src=healthwebmagazine.com&cicada_org_mdm=direct14. Kousar M, Manzoor B, Rafiq A, Jabeen A. A perfect detoxifying drink–Apple cider vinegar. Just Agric. 2022. Available at: https://justagriculture.in/files/newsletter/2022/march/01.pdf
16. Martini N. Apple cider vinegar. Journal of Primary Health Care. 2021 Jun 29;13(2):191-2. Available at: https://www.publish.csiro.au/hc/fulltext/hc19561?crsi=6624972164&cicada_org_src=healthwebmagazine.com&cicada_org_mdm=direct
 

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