When it comes to versatile foods in the kitchen, most of us think of coconut oil, but there's another fantastic multitasker in town: apple cider vinegar. Maybe you've used it in some dressing or added it to a smoothie, but there are a number of surprising uses of apple cider vinegar that can be used for a variety of health benefits. If you're looking for a kitchen staple that not only tastes great, but can be used to help many aspects of your health, apple cider vinegar is for you.
"A bottle of apple cider vinegar contains little strands of proteins that are full of enzymes and helpful bacteria, or 'probiotics,' for your gut," says Erinn Gregory, RDN over email. "This helps to strengthen your immune system and keeps your tummy troubles at bay. People have been using vinegar for centuries for everything from cleaning products to hair care, and for its medicinal properties.
Apple cider vinegar is a type of fermented food made by exposing apples to yeast, which turns the sugar into alcohol. Bacteria is then added to the alcohol solution, which further ferments the alcohol and turns it into acetic acid, the main component of vinegar. It can be used in many types of cooking, especially in recipes that call for normal vinegar.
Next time you're wondering how to use apple cider vinegar, consider these six surprising uses for the health food.
1. Stabilizes Blood Sugar
"Apple cider vinegar can actually help to slow the conversion of carbohydrates to sugar in metabolism," says Gregory. "A study done by Arizona State University found that daily apple cider vinegar consumption reduces blood sugar spikes, which can help those struggling with diabetes."
2. Lower Cholesterol
"Apple cider vinegar is great for heart health," says Gregory. A study in the British Journal of Nutrition showed that daily doses of apple cider vinegar helped to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglyceride levels in rats. "It has also been found to help reduce blood pressure, which is another risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
3. Whiten Teeth
"Commercial teeth whiteners can be very abrasive and damage the enamel on the teeth, but apple cider vinegar provides a safe, gentle alternative," says certified nutrition specialist Dr. Josh Axe over email. "Just use your finger to rub some on your teeth for about a minute, then rinse with water. The pH of the apple cider vinegar will help to gently remove stains."
4. Kill Candida
Yeast thrives on sugar and carbohydrates in the gut, but the ingredients in apple cider vinegar can help fight the bacteria. "The acetic acid in apple cider vinegar can help eliminate candida, while also promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria in its place," says Axe.
5. Treat Acid Reflux
"Apple cider vinegar works by addressing the root cause of reflux—that is, an imbalanced stomach pH and lack of enzymes and probiotics," says Axe. "Add one tablespoon to a cup of water, and drink it five minutes before meals."
6. Fight Allergies
If you experience a runny nose because of seasonal allergies, you can use apple cider vinegar as a natural remedy. "Apple cider vinegar is a great natural treatment, as it helps break up mucus in the body and also supports lymphatic drainage," says Axe.
Incorporating a little bit of apple cider vinegar into your daily diet can help you naturally fight off common ailments and improve your body's immune system.