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Benefits of apple cider vinegar
Did You Know?
Origins of the medicinal benefits of apple cider vinegar can be traced back to the era of Hippocrates, the 'Father of Medicine', who thought of it as a panacea. He prescribed, oxymel, a syrup made from apple cider vinegar and honey, for several ailments including chest congestion, fever, cramps, and infection.

Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is a type of vinegar made from apple cider or apple must, which has a characteristic amber color to it. It is widely used in salad dressings, marinades, preservatives, etc. ACV is known for its medicinal and nutritive properties that help to deal with several health issues including common colds, hair and skin problems, warts, weight control, infection, etc.

Apple cider is an alcoholic beverage obtained by fermenting apple juice. The incubation of such apple cider with the yeast Mycoderma aceti gives apple cider vinegar. The yeast cells metabolize the alcohol (ethanol) present in apple cider, and release acetic acid into the broth, which gives it a characteristic tang and odor. This broth is filtered, distilled, and processed to obtain the sparkling and clear apple cider vinegar we see in the market.

Apple cider vinegar is also available in the organic and unfiltered form. This contains a mesh of M. aceti cells and a type of cellulose, floating in the vinegar. This mesh or cob-web like structure is called 'mother of vinegar', and is responsible for several health benefits offered by this wonder vinegar.

Health Benefits
Apple cider vinegar contains a host of vitamins, beta-carotene, pectin, and vital minerals such as potassium, sodium, magnesium, calcium, phosphorous, chlorine, sulfur, iron, and fluorine. Most of the much-talked about benefits of organic apple cider vinegar can be attributed to the presence of these nutrients.

Given below are a few of the health and cosmetic concerns which can be addressed by the use of organic apple cider vinegar.

► Cold and cough
A combination of apple cider vinegar and honey mixed in warm water is a very well-known folk remedy to deal with common cold, cough, and sore throat. Simply mix 1 tsp. ACV, 1 tsp. honey and 1 tsp of warm water. Adding some mashed ginger to this mixture further enhances its medicinal properties. 1 tsp. of this mixture, thrice a day, helps to provide relief from congestion, cough, and a stuffy nose.

► Indigestion
Indigestion occurs due to a decrease in the acid content of stomach. A glass of warm water with 1 tbsp. of apple cider vinegar, before or during a meal, helps to restore the acid balance and improve digestion. It is also useful to deal with acid reflux and heartburn.

► Blood cholesterol
Research has indicated that apple cider vinegar improves the lipid profile of blood by decreasing the levels of triglycerides and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) or bad cholesterol, as also by increasing the levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) or good cholesterol. This is specially important to manage and/or avoid complications resulting due to diabetes.

► Blood sugar
Several animal and human studies have demonstrated the antiglycemic effects of apple cider vinegar. It improves insulin sensitivity, which is essential to maintain the sugar levels of blood, in people suffering from insulin resistance. However, certain studies have revealed contrasting effects as well, and hence this health benefit remains controversial as of today.

► Weight loss
Apple cider vinegar helps in maintaining a healthy weight, and also aids to achieve weight loss by increasing the satiety levels. This can be achieved by the consumption of 1 tbsp. of cider vinegar mixed in eight ounces of warm water.

► Bone health
The abundance of calcium, potassium, magnesium, and other vital minerals, makes apple cider vinegar a good candidate for maintaining bone health. It serves a preventive measure for osteoporosis, and other degenerative bone diseases.

► Infection
It is known to exhibit antiseptic properties, and is effective against bacterial and fungal infections. Hence it is useful for dealing with ear infection, bladder infection, candidiasis, etc., either by external application or through ingestion. Simply rinsing the ear with diluted apple cider vinegar alleviates ear infection. For bladder infection and candidiasis, drinking a glass of warm water and apple cider vinegar, every night, serves as a useful remedy.

► Cramps
It helps to deal with night cramps and muscle pain owing to its rich mineral content. The same all-purpose tonic - 1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar in a glass of warm water - reduces the frequency and intensity of leg cramps, and the pain associated.

► Warts
To get rid of warts, concentrated form of apple cider vinegar is directly applied onto the affected skin region. A cotton swab dipped in cider vinegar can be taped onto the wart daily, until it goes away completely.

► Hair health
A solution of apple cider vinegar and water, mixed in equal proportions serves as a natural conditioner for hair. It helps to nourish the hair, and achieve the desired shine, and a soft texture.

► Skin health
Half a cup of apple cider vinegar mixed with a cup of water provides an effective toner, essential for soft and glowing skin. A regular use of such a toner will help to maintain the pH balance of skin, avoid skin infections, acne, and thus maintain skin health.

► Cancer
The antitumor properties of apple cider vinegar are also being studied with the objective of studying its role in cancer prevention and control. Its role as an antioxidant in neutralizing the free radicals is also being researched in the same context.

Using Apple Cider Vinegar
The health benefits of this vinegar can be obtained by its daily consumption as a tonic. Two tablespoons each of apple cider vinegar and honey mixed in a glass of water serves as a healthy early morning drink, that caters to various nutritive needs of the body.

Apart from this, it can be included in regular meals through a variety of easy ways. It proves as a healthy substitute for oil in salad dressings, as a pickling agent for fruits and vegetables, marinades for beef, pork, lamb, and even fish. Adding this vinegar as the prime ingredient in a marinade, along with an assortment of herbs and spices, will not only help in flavoring and tenderizing the meat, but will also add a whole lot of nutrients to the diet.

While there are no serious side effects, the acetic acid present in apple cider vinegar may deteriorate your dental enamel, and cause yellowing of teeth. It may also cause skin irritation, throat burns, and nausea in rare cases. However, a regular and moderate intake of organic apple cider vinegar is considered safe and healthy. Such a practice helps to maintain the acid-alkaline balance of the body, and caters to the vitamin and mineral requirements of the body.

Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only, and does not attempt to replace the advice offered by an expert on the subject.