Apple cider vinegar (ACV) has gained widespread popularity for its numerous health benefits, yet many people are still confused about how best to use it. (No judgment here!) It’s been widely touted as an ally in supporting digestion, but why? And how can you reap the benefits?
ACV 101—what is it?
Any carbohydrate or alcohol can, in theory, become vinegar. ACV is vinegar made from apple cider that has been fermented. The process of fermenting apple cider has been around for a very long time: Records show humans have been doing it since well before 5000 B.C. This fermentation process naturally produces various strains of probiotics and enzymes. ACV also contains acetic acid, which has been shown to slow digestion and promote feelings of fullness.
When the topic of ACV comes up, the word “mother” is often part of the conversation. In ACV lingo, the mother refers to the unfiltered web of beneficial bacteria (probiotics) created by the fermentation process. Probiotics, as you’ve probably heard, can aid digestion and contribute to gut health, among other benefits.
When you’re purchasing a bottle of ACV, the presence of the mother is usually a good indicator of quality: It means the ACV is likely unfiltered and unrefined. This probiotic- and enzyme-rich web is largely what makes ACV so beneficial. The mother is equivalent to the scoby in the kombucha-making process.
ACV checklist—what to look for
The first thing you want to look for is the mother, recognized as a light, cloudy sediment resting at the bottom of the bottle. Other markers of quality include labels identifying the ACV as raw, unfiltered, or unrefined, as well as organic.
How to consume this goodness
The simplest way to incorporate ACV into your diet is to dilute 1 Tbsp in a small glass of water taken before meals. Adding a small amount of raw organic honey enhances the taste and provides additional minerals and beneficial bacteria.
For something a little different, brew up a batch of fire cider to add to your water instead. ACV is also a creative replacement for citrus or other types of vinegars in dressings for your favorite salads.
And if you have sensitive tooth enamel, don’t worry: ACV is widely available in capsule form, as well as gummies.
We see you, ACV
In addition to being a digestive aid, ACV has been used traditionally for a number of other ailments. It may help:
- regulate blood sugar
- enhance weight loss
- lower cholesterol
- improve skin health
- reduce blood pressure