Apple Cider Vinegar is a popular ingredient in the culinary world and amongst health enthusiasts. So what makes it so popular? And what are the different ways that apple cider vinegar is used?
What exactly is Apple Cider Vinegar?
Apple cider vinegar, as the name suggests, is vinegar made from apples.(1) Vinegars can be made from a number of different fruits, vegetables, and grains.
It is commonly used:(2)
- in salad dressings
- in marinades
- in food preservation
- for hair and skin
- in supplements.
A brief history
Along with commercial use, apple cider vinegar has an extensive history in folk medicine. The first example of this comes from Hippocrates. He recommended honey and apple cider vinegar for cleaning wounds and staving off infection.(4) This method was also recorded in the Old Testament of the Bible.(2)
As you can see, apple cider vinegar has a longer history than you might think.
How is it made then?
Like I mentioned earlier, vinegars are made from many different ingredients.
In simple terms, vinegar is made when alcohol ferments. There is a bacteria in alcohol called acetobacter. When this interacts with oxygen (fermentation), it turns the ethanol (alcohol) into acetic acid. That acid is the main component of all vinegars.
When you buy vinegar from the shops, it might be labelled as ‘filtered’ (clear), or unfiltered. Unfiltered vinegar contains something called the ‘mother’, which is a bit like solid egg white. This contains the majority of the proteins, enzymes and friendly bacteria.(6) It’s what makes this type of vinegar look cloudy.(6)
Along with the proteins and enzymes, apple cider vinegar contains ‘good’ bacteria that can help the gut.(6) This is because it’s a fermented product.
There have been studies that suggest that apple cider vinegar contains amino acids and antioxidants as well.(6)
Can you make your own?
The great thing about vinegar is that the process of making it is actually very simple. To make it from scratch (i.e. from fruit), you just need the fruit you want, sugar, and water.
Storing the fruit and sugar in water means that the yeast on the apples can consume the sugar, which makes alcohol. Then the acetobacter bacteria will convert the alcohol to acetic acid, making it vinegar.
If you already have alcohol that you want to make into vinegar, introducing oxygen to the bottle/container will start the fermentation process.
For a more in-depth explanation, we’ve found a great page on making your own vinegar here.
So what are the health benefits?
Now that we’ve gone over the history of apple cider vinegar and how it’s made, let’s take a look at what it can do for you.
Apple cider vinegar could also provide relief for gastrointestinal issues, as well as indigestion and heartburn. This is down to the antimicrobial properties again, as they fight harmful bacteria.(4)
Hair and Skin
Many people use apple cider vinegar to help take care of their hair.
Recent research has found that alkaline shampoos and hair products can contribute to hair breakage and dryness.(4) Since vinegar is acidic, it’s thought that it could help combat this.
To fully grasp this, we need to consider the pH values of the scalp, and of shampoos and vinegar. The scalp has a natural pH of 5.5, which is acidic. Normal hair products are alkaline, so they work against acid.
This can mean that the scalp suffers when using heavy alkaline products. Water can sometimes have the same effect, as it has a neutral pH. However, because apple cider vinegar is acidic, it can help restore hair’s pH balance. It works best if you pour it on your hair after shampooing.(4)
Your hair can also benefit from apple cider vinegar’s antifungal properties. This is because it can tackle oil build-up or excessive amounts of the yeasty fungus. These are two of the main culprits of dandruff.(4)
Another way apple cider vinegar is used is as a natural treatment for healthier skin and nails. When applied as a toner, it can help to balance the skin’s pH. It may also have a gentle exfoliating effect.(4)
It can even be useful as a foot soak for rough skin, or for mild fungal infections.(4)
Vinegar also contains chemicals called polyphenols. They can help stop cell damage that, in the worst case scenario, can lead to other diseases, like cancer.(5)
Evidently, apple cider vinegar (and vinegar as a whole) has useful properties regardless of what form it comes in. So, whether you prefer your vinegar in liquid or in supplement form, you’ll receive all the benefits.
You’ve finally gotten to the end of the article, but that was a lot of writing. To save you the hassle of reading it all over, let’s look at the main points again.
Apple cider vinegar is produced by fermenting apples. Over the past 5000 years, it’s been used in many different ways. Hippocrates combined apple cider vinegar and honey to clean wounds and stop infection.
To produce any vinegar, you have to make alcohol by adding sugar to fruit and water. Or if you already have alcohol, introducing oxygen will start the process. Then the bacteria in the alcohol will turn it into vinegar.
Apple cider vinegar has a number of beneficial properties, which is what has enabled its use throughout the centuries.
These include areas such as:
After all that I’m sure you’ll agree that apple cider vinegar is an extremely versatile ingredient, and one that’s definitely worth testing for yourself!
This information is meant to supplement, not replace, advice from your doctor or healthcare provider and is not meant to cover all possible uses, precautions, interactions or adverse effects. This information may not fit your specific health circumstances. You should always speak with your doctor or health care professional before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your health care plan or treatment and to determine what course of therapy is right for you.