Chances are, you’ve already heard that apple cider vinegar can be a valuable addition to your health routine and culinary repertoire. So let’s take a closer look at the reasons why apple cider vinegar is so popular in the health, beauty and culinary worlds and why its accolades are well deserved!
Growing up, Hannah and Rachel's Dad gave them the same 'prescription' for nearly every ailment they confronted him with: a glass of water mixed with apple cider vinegar and molasses. From sore throats to upset stomachs to impending colds and flus, their Dad's prescription remained the same. And this was long before apple cider vinegar became one of the darlings of health and nutrition. No wonder we at Organico believe it's a natural remedy that's here to stay!
What is Apple Cider Vinegar?
Making apple cider vinegar is a simple process to describe: turn apples into juice, turn juice into hard cider, turn cider into vinegar. Of course, there’s way more going on behind the scenes; for starters, it takes loads of microbial activity to transform an apple into cider vinegar.
It’s a 2-stage process: First, the producer adds yeast to the juice to kickstart fermentation (apple cider vinegar, like all vinegars, is a fermented product). This step results in hard cider. In step 2 of the process, the producer adds a live bacterial culture—aka, “mother”— which converts the alcohol into acetic acid (the primary component of apple cider vinegar).
Filtered vs. Unfiltered
Many brands filter out the mother because it leads to cloudy vinegar with sediment build-up. These filtered products are often pasteurised as well, so no living bacteria remains in the apple cider vinegar. At Organico, we’re in favour of keeping the mother alive and raw, as it’s widely believed to be responsible for many of the vinegar’s nutritional benefits. (And good to know—the mother and sediment in unfiltered apple cider vinegar is completely safe to consume.)
One of the most well known (and one of our most popular) brands of apple cider vinegar, Bragg's Apple Cider Vinegar, is organic, raw, unfiltered, certified non-GMO and comes with the mother.
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Apple Cider Vinegar Nutrition
The nutrient profile of apple cider vinegar is similar to apple juice: vitamins B1, B2, and B6, biotin, folic acid, niacin, pantothenic acid, and vitamin C. There are also small amounts of minerals including sodium, phosphorous, potassium, calcium, iron, manganese and magnesium. It’s rich in polyphenol antioxidants. It’s also notably high in acetic acid.
And while the mother does count as a probiotic in unpasteurised, unfiltered apple cider vinegar, it’s unclear whether the live bacteria survive the digestive tract long enough to benefit gut health. But the bacteria do (as we’ll see) lend antibacterial properties to the vinegar.
How to Safely Use Apple Cider Vinegar
Before we dive into all the good things about apple cider vinegar, let’s have a quick chat about how to safely use it. Because apple cider vinegar is immensely acidic, you’ll want to take some care:
For Safe Intake
- It’s never a good idea to drink apple cider vinegar “straight” (or undiluted). It can wear away tooth enamel (which doesn’t come back), damage the throat, cause heartburn and upset the digestive tract.
- Always dilute small amounts of apple cider vinegar for safe intake (1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar in 8 ounces water when drinking).
- Be careful about applying undiluted apple cider vinegar to your skin, it may be too harsh for certain skin types.
- This precaution may be slightly bizarre, but it’s worth mentioning—directly inhaling apple cider vinegar is caustic to the lungs, so don’t do it.
- If you have any sort of pre-existing health condition such as ulcers caused by Helicobacter pylori, eczema, psoriasis, heart disease, diabetes, or if you take any medication, talk to your doctor before using apple cider vinegar in a medicinal way.
- It’s also worth noting that apple cider vinegar can potentially deplete potassium levels in people who struggle with low potassium to start with.
Based in West Cork, Rebel Food makes raw apple cider vinegar, barrel fermented with fresh mountain well water and bottled with the mother intact. Unlike other apple cider vinegars with higher acidity levels, this one can be consumed "straight". Rebel Food Apple Cider Vinegar is available online while our full range of infused vinegars and Fire Vinegar is available in our shop in Bantry.
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Health Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar
Now for the good stuff! Research into the health benefits of apple cider vinegar is definitely a burgeoning field, but the results so far are showing that apple cider vinegar has the potential to improve health in a variety of ways:
Studies support that people who consume a small amount of diluted apple cider vinegar every day while following a low-calorie diet lose more body fat than people who simply follow a low-calorie diet.
Blood Sugar Levels (and Sugar Cravings)
Studies have also shown that apple cider vinegar can help stabilise blood sugar levels following a meal. One study suggests that apple cider vinegar can even reduce sugar cravings. As the study says, the acetic acid in apple cider vinegar disables disaccharidases (or the digestive enzymes that break down starches) so they can’t be absorbed by the bloodstream. This means there’s no spike in blood sugar levels to be followed by sudden drops that induce cravings for more sugar.
There’s evidence to suggest that apple cider vinegar could support lower total cholesterol and triglycerides (high amounts of either are linked to greater risk of heart disease). And it’s thought to boost levels of heart-protecting high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, otherwise known as “good cholesterol”.
Fermented foods, in general, are associated with better digestion, and apple cider vinegar is no exception. It can potentially help regulate the acidity in the stomach, which leads to easier digestion, and nurture the good bacteria in the digestive system. It’s also possible that apple cider vinegar assists the absorption of certain nutrients including calcium and iron.
Small studies and case reports indicate that apple cider vinegar can help fight fungal infections caused by an excess of Candida albicans when applied daily to the site of the infection. Such infections most commonly take up residence in the mouth, throat and vagina. Just be sure to never apply undiluted apple cider vinegar to delicate areas, it’s not worth the burn!
Another great value brand to check out is Aspall Organic Cyder Vinegar.
Beauty Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar has even penetrated the world of beauty with its reputed ability to treat common issues and support healthy skin and hair.
A homemade skin toner made out of 1 part apple cider vinegar and 2 parts water (you could throw in a tablespoon of soothing organic aloe vera gel for good measure) is recommended to smooth skin and treat acne (thanks to the vinegar’s antibacterial action).
Shampoo and condition as usual then rinse hair in a mixture of 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and 8 ounces of water. Massage through hair then rinse with water. This treatment is believed to reduce frizz, eliminate product build-up and increase shine.
Culinary Uses of Apple Cider Vinegar
It would be a shame to ignore the culinary value of apple cider vinegar. With its sweet appley flavour and zesty acidity, it can add life and character to so many recipes.
An obvious use is to add apple cider vinegar to your homemade salad dressings or bean-based dips. It can also inject some much-needed zest into a soup or stew. Simply stir in a splash (or to taste) just before serving. Balance and accentuate the sweetness of roasted vegetables with a drizzle of apple cider vinegar when the veg is hot out of the oven. It’s also a great ingredient for refreshing homemade drinks such as shrubs and vinegarades.
And for those of you who prefer to take your apple cider vinegar in tablet form, New Nordic makes a supplement which combines the vinegar with dandelion and globe artichoke to support digestion and the breakdown of fats in the digestive system. We stock New Nordic Apple Cider both in High Strength and Mega Strength.
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Also from the New Nordic line, Active Liver makes a great complement to the Apple Cider tablets during a detox. Together, the two support fat metabolism and the healthy functioning of the liver.
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Here to Stay
We'll continue to bring you various brands and types of high-quality apple cider vinegar because we believe that it can be a valuable part of your wellbeing routine and a useful ingredient in your cooking repertoire—and that's true whether you've grown up with apple cider vinegar (like Hannah and Rachel) or you're just stepping foot into its world of possibilities.