8 Health Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple Cider Vinegar is everywhere.

The vinegar, once relegated to niche health food stores, is now recommended everywhere from beauty supply chains to Gwyneth Paltrow's Goop—and with good reason. ACV—as super fans call it—is the Swiss army knife of condiments. Want to jazz up a low-cal salad? It can do that. Need to clean your coffee maker? ACV has got you covered. And that's just the beginning.

Made from fermented apples, this sunset-colored vinegar is being touted on the internet as everything from a weight loss supplement to a miracle skin product. Of course, some of these claims are not without their caveats. That's where we come in.

We combed through the studies, research, consumer reports, and first person accounts to decipher just what a bottle of ACV can really do. Below, you'll find all you need to know about the supposed miracle product.

It Might Promote Weight Loss

As with any dietary supplement, it's best to check with your physician before starting any new regimen. That said, ACV is getting a lot of attention from the weight-loss community, due to a few scientific studies. One small study published in 2009 found that those who consumed 1 tablespoon daily lost 2.6 pounds, while those who doubled their intake daily lost 3.7 pounds over a 12-week period. Another study reported that individuals who consumed between 1 and 3 tablespoons with one carb-heavy meal were more likely to cut back on calories (up to 275!) the rest of the day. The idea here is that the acetic acid found in vinegar reduces blood glucose and insulin responses while increasing satiety.

Womens Health

If you're looking to give it shot (and you've been cleared by your doctor) experts suggest drinking one to three tablespoons diluted in a full glass of water throughout the day—preferably right before you eat. However, ACV is not without risks. "[It] may interact with certain supplements or drugs, including diuretics and insulin," explains the Mayo Clinic's Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D. who isn't completely sold on the weight loss hype. "This may contribute to low potassium levels," she warns.

It's An All-Natural Cleaning Agent

If you're looking for a chemical-free disinfectant to clean your countertops, sinks and various sundries, look no further than ACV. Mix it in a spray bottle with a little baking soda and hot water and you've got yourself a non-toxic all-in-one household spray. Squeeze a little lemon in there for some extra odor control, too.

It Gets Rid of Dandruff

Vinegar is a known fungus killer, which makes ACV a perfect candidate for dandruff relief. Just blend a quarter cup of ACV with the same amount of water, douse your head, and leave on for about 15 minutes for an all-natural Head and Shoulders effect.

It May Lower High Blood Sugar and Help Fight Diabetes

Remember that study on ACV's properties potentially reducing insulin intake? That could be beneficial for those prone to high blood sugar which can lead to certain serious diseases. Other studies suggest the vinegar boosts overall glycemic control, particularly in those individuals with Type 2 Diabetes and impaired glucose tolerance. "ACV won't cure diabetes," writes the University of Chicago's Edwin K McDonald M.D., "but it may moderately lower blood glucose levels." That's not to say it's a replacement for diabetic medications, "but it's a safe enough addition to a diabetes treatment plan (as long as you don't have kidney disease)."

It Can Totally Rehab Your Skin

This miracle liquid can be a lifesaver when it comes to healing bruises, fighting foot fungus, and even treating bug bites. But it doesn't end there. Use it as a facial toner or drop 8 ounces into a warm bath to give your skin an all-over glow and prevent outbreaks. "It's a potent antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral substance capable of keeping bacteria at bay and pimples from forming," dermatologic surgeon Dendy Engelman, M.D. tells Women'sHealth. "It contains alpha hydroxy acids that chemically exfoliate to remove dead skin buildup and reveal healthy new skin cells." We're all for that, but be warned: Those with sensitive skin should dilute and test on a less sensitive area (like the forearm) before going all in. Also, some folks aren't huge fans of the smell.

It's Been Linked to the Prevention of Certain Cancers: Everyday there's a new study suggesting one food item or another fights cancer, and another study disputing those results. But so far, experts are fairly optimistic about the cancer-fighting properties in ACV. While multiple studies on rats observed vinegar's to help kill cancer cells and shrink tumors, one study on human beings found its potential to fight esophageal cancer. It isn't all good news, however. Another study linked vinegar, along with certain types of meat, as a risk factor for bladder cancer. Obviously, we're just getting started on learning what ACV can and can't do when it comes to fighting the deadliest of diseases, but as Dr. MacDonald notes, there's no definitive proof that vinegar CURES cancer.

It Makes Your Fruits and Veggies Healthier

Better than plain water or chemically-treated products, ACV with lemon and water makes for an all-natural fruit and veggie wash that protects against pesticides and food-borne illnesses like e-coli.

It Cleans your Clean-Machines

We already mentioned running ACV through your coffee maker cleans the built-up debris for a fresher cup of java. But you can also use it in your dishwasher and washing machine to clean the machines of any mildew or food build up. Just fill the dispenser, run those puppies, and you're clothes and dishes will be squeaky-clean the next time you wash them.

It Nixes Bad Breath AND Soothes Sore Throats

The acetic acid in ACV kills bacteria your mouth and throat when you mix it with warm water and gargle. According Dr. Oz, it even breaks up mucus caused by seasonal allergies. Might be time to stash a bottle of ACV in the medicine cabinet and kitchen.

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