[su_quote]An apple a day keeps the doctor away.[/su_quote]
The age-old saying isn’t without merit. There is truth into it. Thus, apple is one of the most consumed fruit around the globe. And, besides the raw fruit, apple is also eaten in several other forms including dried apple, apple juice, in desserts, as murabba and last, but not the least as apple cider vinegar.
Apple cider vinegar (in Hindi, seb ka sirka) is probably one of the oldest home remedies that is being used globally. Though, it may take some time to prepare the vinegar, the patience is worth it. Anyhow, these days you don’t even have to prepare it yourself at home. You can always buy it from your local market, or even order online. There are several brands selling ACV, but we decided to try the one from Healthkart.
Apple Cider Vinegar with Mother: What’s different?
An interesting thing about this apple cider vinegar that got me interested was the fact that it contains mother, in an unfiltered, unpasteurized form. I decided to learn more about the same and discovered that ACV with mother retains the original culture of valuable bacteria that was used to turn the apple juice into Apple Cider Vinegar through fermenting (1). You can actually make out the difference between pasteurized ACV (without Mother) and unrefined, unfiltered ACV (containing Mother) simply by looking at both the solutions. While former is transparent and much clear, the latter has a translucent, murky, slightly congealed cob-like appearance.
While refined ACV is best for cleaning purposes as they don’t leave much residue, ACV with mother is more suitable for culinary use while adding several health benefits as well.
It’s obvious that refined version lacks additional health benefits of apple cider vinegar containing mother, otherwise known as apple cider vinegar with mother.
How is Apple Cider Vinegar Prepared?
The term vinegar is derived from Latin words vinum (i.e. wine) and acer (i.e. sour). Living up to its name vinegar is simply sour wine. Organic apple cider vinegar has been in use for thousands of years. In fact, the use of apple cider vinegar is so old, that it finds mention in ancient scriptures like Bible, while even Hippocrates is known to have used apple cider vinegar for several health conditions.
The basic behind formation of apple cider vinegar is simple. Carbohydrates are turned to alcohol by the yeast, which in turn is converted with the help of bacteria into vinegar i.e. acetic acid chemically.
The process of making apple cider vinegar is so easy that anyone can make it at home by following these simple steps:
- Wash a few cider/hard apples as per your requirement, best to use organic apples for this process as they’re healthier than their counterpart.
- Chop the apples into quarters.
- Leave the apples exposed to clean air at room temperature, so that they turn brown.
- Once they’ve all turned brown, place these apple quarters in a large wide-mouthed glass jar.
- Dispense sufficient water in in the jar until they’re completely submerged.
- Loosely place a cheesecloth over the jar mouth without securing, such that it allows oxygen into the mixture.
- Keep the jar in a warm, dark place like in an attic, well house or a hot water closet.
- Let the covered jar stand alone for up to 6 months, only stirring once a week.
- Fetch the jar after 6 months. There will be a layer of scum on the top of the solution. This is the result of fermentation from alcohol to vinegar by the bacteria.
- Filter the solution through the cheesecloth to another jar.
- Cover the liquid with the same cheesecloth and let it remain in the warm, dark place for 6 more weeks. At the end of the 6 weeks, you’ll have your organic apple cider vinegar. Store it in refrigerator to keep it fresh.
Only drawback of making apple cider vinegar at home is that it takes a lot of time and patience, something that is very rare in our fast-paced life. So, you can always purchase online at popular websites like HealthKart.
What are the Health Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar?
The health benefits of apple cider vinegar are many, otherwise why would it gain so much popularity for so long? As a matter of fact, vinegar can be prepared from various sources, however apple cider vinegar is most popular among the community relying on natural remedies of various ailments.
ACV is a type of vinegar, but with a lot of added properties. Organic apple cider vinegar with mother will also contain the original bacterial culture. A good brand like the one from Healthkart will not add any sugar or preservative to it. Thus, apple cider vinegar is very low on calories, helping you achieve your weight loss goals in more than one ways.
- Reduces appetite: Research has shown that ACV can improve satiety, thereby reducing appetite (2). If it is taken along with a high-carb diet it increases the feeling of fullness, thus you end up consuming lesser calories than otherwise.
Another study involving 175 subjects found that daily intake of apple cider vinegar helps in reducing belly fat and promotes weight loss (3).
- Burns calories: ACV also burns more calories and fat reserves, thus reducing the weight more.
However, one must keep in mind that ACV alone will not do any miracles. If you want to lose weight, you must make other necessary alterations in your lifestyle including a healthy diet, and regular workouts and cardio-exercises.
Fighting diabetes and lowering blood sugar levels
Apple cider vinegar is found useful in controlling blood sugar levels in diabetes 2. The basic etiology behind diabetes type 2 involves insulin resistance or defect in insulin production. Moreover, high blood sugar may also be found in non-diabetics as a result of various chronic illnesses and effects of ageing.
Apple Cider vinegar helps in controlling blood sugar by following mechanism:
- ACV improves insulin sensitivity by 19-34% after a high-carb meal, thus lowering blood sugar and improving insulin response (4).
- 2 tbsp. of ACV before sleeping can reduce fasting blood sugar levels by up to 4% (5).
- ACV lowers blood sugar after consuming 50g of white bread (6).
Thus, organic apple cider vinegar is helpful in individuals with diabetes, pre-diabetes, or anyone who wants to keep their blood sugar levels in check.
Caution: If you’re on anti-diabetes medication, make sure to consult your doctor before making use of apple cider vinegar for lowering blood cholesterol.
Promotes heart health and control cholesterol levels
Cardiac diseases are the commonest cause of pre-mature deaths around the globe (7). Several risk factors are associated with increase or decrease of risk of heart diseases. Regular consumption of apple cider vinegar seems to lowers the risk of heart disease.
Several animal studies suggest that ACV lowers levels of cholesterol and triglycerides in blood (8). ACV also positively affect many other risk factors of cardiac diseases. Studies have also found that vinegar lowers blood pressure in rats, which is a major risk factor in development of heart disease and kidney disease (9).
A human observational study at Harvard University involving women showed that those who ate salad dressings along with vinegar were at lower risk of heart disease (10). However, this study only shows a close association, but doesn’t prove that the reduction in heart disease was an effect of apple cider vinegar.
Reduction in blood sugar while using apple cider vinegar also has a positive effect on risk of heart disease.
Possible protection against cancer
Cancer is characterized by uncontrolled proliferation of cells. If you’ll search the internet there are claims about effectiveness of ACV in cancer. As a matter of fact, several studies have also established vinegar as anti-cancer which can kill cancerous cells and reduce tumor size (11).
However, these studies were either done in controlled lab conditions or in rat models, not providing any evidence about its effectiveness in humans.
It’s possible that apple cider vinegar may have a positive impact on cancer but more research is required to establish the same.
Apple cider vinegar is also known to aid in several digestive disorders by stimulating digestive juices responsible for digesting the food. ACV is, therefore, useful in problems like bloating, indigestion, gas and heartburn. A teaspoon of apple cider vinegar taken with a glass of water helps in a quick relief from heartburn. The probable explanation for beneficial effects of apple cider vinegar is its buffering action which regulates the pH in the gut.
Moreover, beneficial acids found in ACV like acetic acid, lactic acid, isobutryic acid and propionic acid controls the growth of undesired bacteria and yeast in the gut.
However, you must keep in mind that ACV will not help in case of ulcers.
Osteoporosis is very common among women above the age of 65 affecting about 30% of them. In fact, about 200 million people suffer from osteoporosis globally (14). At the time of diagnosis, people have already lost up to 50-75% of the materials from their bones. Among these patients about 40% women and 15-30% men are likely to be affected by fragility fractures at one time or another.
Thus, when the intensity of this problem is so great, it’s important to prevent the disease before it’s too late and bones. Research has found that apple cider vinegar improves absorption of calcium in rats (15). Calcium is essential for bone health and preventing osteoporosis, making ACV a great means to delay this dreadful condition. Drinking ACV with meals is beneficial in enhancing calcium absorption and strengthening the bones.
Apple cider vinegar is quite useful in improving the condition of the hair. While alkaline shampoo leads to dry hair and hair fall, organic apple cider vinegar with Mother lowers pH in the hair, thus fighting dry, frizzy hair. ACV has been used as shampoo for ages. It removes excess mineral deposits over the scalp. It also improves blood circulation to the hair follicles thereby improving hair growth and preventing hair fall. If you rinse hair with ACV regularly, it will make them smoother, thus easy to remove tangles. It also closes the cuticles making the hair strands stronger and reduces breaking of hair and split ends.
The antimicrobial properties of ACV also control microbes and fights scalp itchiness and dandruff. Mix ACV in water in equal quantities and pour the solution on your hair after washing them. Massage your head for a couple of minutes to improve blood circulation. Afterwards, rinse with plain water for softer, conditioned hair.
Overall, apple cider vinegar makes the hair shinier, smoother, stronger and smell great.
Beauty benefits of ACV
There are a lot of benefits of apple cider vinegar when it comes to skin care. So much so that apple cider vinegar qualifies as a great beauty product in itself. Some of the beauty benefits of apple cider vinegar for skin are as follows:
- As an exfoliator and skin toner: Apple cider vinegar can be used as a skin toner to balance skin pH. Its exfoliating action soften the skin while removing dead skin debris. It is also great for nail health. Mix equal amounts of water and ACV for best results. Caution: Do a skin sensitivity test with ACV before applying it on your face.
- Facial steaming for treating clogged pores: Facial steaming is a great method for clearing impurities from the skin pores. You could add a couple teaspoons of ACV to the boiled water. Steam your face with the solution for 15 minutes. Afterwards splash the face with cool water and gently dry the skin by patting with soft towel.
- As a foot soak: Add unfiltered ACV in water in a ratio of 1:2. Soak your feet in the solution for 10-15 minutes for smooth rejuvenated skin. This foot soak is beneficial in getting rid of cracked heels, fungal infections and foot odor.
- Treating age spots: Regular lotions or creams used for fighting age spots are quite costly. However, you can use ACV for treating age spots. ACV also contains alpha-hydroxy acid which is an important ingredients of anti-ageing creams. This keeps skin firm, fresh and rejuvenated. Add equal amount of ACV and water and dab the solution on skin with cotton ball. Leave the solution on skin for 10-15 minutes and allow it to soak. Rinse with cool water.
- Brighten skin: Apple cider vinegar is useful in many skin conditions including dry skin, psoriasis, eczema and skin blemishes. ACV reduces inflammation and minimize the skin problems. Add equal amount of ACV and water and dab the solution on skin with cotton ball. Leave the solution on skin for 10-15 minutes and allow it to soak. Rinse with cool water. Nevertheless, be cautious while using ACV as acid in vinegar can irritate the skin, making the condition worse.
- Treat acne and reduce scarring: The role of bacteria in acne is undeniable especially Propionibacterium acnes. Apple cider vinegar has antibacterial properties which reduces the growth of pathogenic bacteria. Also, acids like acetic acid, succinic acid, lactic acid and citric acid in apple cider vinegar also inhibit the growth of
ACV can also reduce scarring from acne. Research has shown that lactic acid treatment for 3 months shows improvement in the pigmentation, texture and appearance of the skin beside reduction in scars. (16)
- Sunburn treatment: Got a sunburn? Apple cider vinegar is a great remedy for soothing sunburnt skin. Add a cup of ACV in a quarter cup of coconut oil along with few drops of lavender essential oil in a lukewarm bath. Let your skin soak in this water for sometime for a relief from sunburn.
Apple cider vinegar is also useful in detoxification of the body. One of the mechanism involved is its buffering effect by balancing body’s pH. Research shows that ACV is particularly helpful in detoxification of liver and improving circulation (17). It is involved in various healing processes within the skin and blood, removes harmful toxins from the body.
Another mechanism in detox is through cleansing of lymph nodes and breaking of mucus, allowing improvement in lymph circulation. A healthy lymphatic system ensures proper removal of toxins from cells and improves immunity.
ACV is associated with improvement in immunity. In fact, the legend goes that thieves during the bubonic plague were able to survive by preparing a herbal vinegar from herbs like thyme, rosemary and lavender.
Mother in organic apple cider vinegar has immune boosting properties. Also, it helps in strengthening the vinegar even further with time and enhances its valuable properties.