Plenty of health trends come and go (hello, celery water), but one is here to stay — apple cider vinegar. So what's the deal with this trendy drink many swear by? We tapped Dani Moravek, functional nutritionist and holistic wellness specialist, and Founder of Creative Nutrition Co. and Anthea Levi, RD, a registered dietitian at the private practice Culina Health, to break down the benefits of apple cider vinegar (ACV).
What is apple cider vinegar?
Apple cider vinegar is a type of vinegar that is made by combining chopped apples, yeast and water and leaving the mixture at room temperature for an extended period of time. Over time, the natural sugars in the apples ferment and are converted to ethanol, a type of alcohol, which eventually turns into acetic acid, Levi tells Lively.
What are the benefits of apple cider vinegar?
While there is a long list of purported health benefits of ACV, they have only been reported in small studies, Levi says. For example, one study published in the journal Diabetes Care reported that evening ACV ingestion was associated with lower fasting glucose levels the next morning, however the study included only 11 participants.
Apple cider vinegar is also known to be packed with antimicrobial properties, Moravek tells Lively.
"While I don’t think the research is strong enough to recommend sipping ACV for blood sugar control or weight loss, there's little risk in incorporating the ingredient into your meals," says Levi. "There may be some healthy bacteria in the vinegar thanks to the fermentation process that produces it (though this isn’t confirmed), and it also contains good-for-you phytonutrients from the apples, as well as B vitamins."
Can you drink apple cider vinegar every day?
Though you should consider it's not a magic elixir for health, and actually may even pose risks for certain populations. For example, the vinegar can lower potassium levels, which may be dangerous for people taking medications (certain diuretics) that already put them at risk of losing the critical electrolyte. Drinking vinegar straight can also exacerbate GERD (gastroesophageal reflux) symptoms for some people, Levi explains.
If you do want to add a daily shot of ACV to your diet, keep in mind that vinegar is extremely acidic, which can erode the enamel on your teeth or irritate the lining of your esophagus over time, so you should dilute in water and even drink through a straw, suggests Moravek.
How much apple cider vinegar should you drink every day?
Though this depends on the individual, Moravek suggests mixing 1 – 2 T ACV with 8 – 16 oz. of water.
"One of my favorite drink combos includes raw ACV, warm water, fresh ginger, cinnamon and Manuka honey," she says.
You can also ACV to salads, soups, homemade baked goods, and marinades for a deliciously healthy boost, Moravek says.
And while there is not necessarily any set best time to drink apple cider vinegar per day, some people drink it in the morning as it has the potential to help improve digestion, while others enjoy it with meals or as a nightcap, says Moravek.
Can apple cider vinegar help with weight loss?
"Yes, adding a vinegar-based dressing to your salad is awesome, but sipping ACV alone isn’t likely to promote weight loss," Levi says. "Plus, there are much more enjoyable ways to hit your health goals that don’t include downing an ultra acidic shot every morning.”
Though apple cider vinegar may help with weight loss, it hasn’t been proven. And, Moavek adds that it’s not a miracle gateway to reaching long-term goals.
Vital note: We also recommend discussing your health goals with your licensed healthcare professional. They can best provide you with the diagnosis and treatment of any medical condition and assist you as well in deciding whether a dietary supplement will be a helpful addition to your regimen.