What Apple Cider Vinegar Can (and Can't) Do For You

Apple cider vinegar does have a few things going for it but its powers have been vastly over-estimated in the popular imagination.

Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS
3-minute read
Episode #412

James writes:

Can you review which of the many health benefits attributed to apple cider vinegar have actually been proven scientifically? Would these benefits also apply to other vinegars? Is there any extra benefit to consuming unpasteurized vinegar?

Every time I think the ACV craze has finally settled down, another magazine article, website, or new product line proves me wrong! Apple cider vinegar does have a few things going for it but, as you might have suspected, its powers have been vastly over-estimated in the popular imagination.

Let’s get the bad news out of the way first. Here are a few things that ACV probably won’t do for you:

ACV won’t magically melt the fat from your body

As I talked about in a podcast from way back in 2009, the acetic acid in vinegar has been shown to boost metabolism and cause you to burn an extra calorie or two. (That’s true of any vinegar, by the way, not just ACV.) But this is another example of the fact that something can be true without being particularly meaningful. The effect of vinegar on your metabolism is so modest that it is unlikely to result in noticeable weight loss unless it is combined with other strategies, such as eating less.

ACV won’t purify your blood or eliminate toxins

Unlike the metabolism thing, which at least has some scientific basis, the idea that apple cider vinegar will flush impurities or toxins from your body is just wishful thinking. As I talked about in a previous podcast on detoxification, your liver and kidneys are extremely effective at eliminating toxins. If you want to help them, the best thing you can do is give them less to do, by reducing your exposure to toxins such as excessive alcohol, second-hand smoke, volatile fumes, pesticides, and so on.

See also: How to reduce your exposure to pesticides

ACV won’t add meaningful nutrition to your diet

Finally, despite some of the breathless descriptions you might read online, drinking a shot of apple cider vinegar every day doesn’t flood your body with massive amounts of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. It’s just fermented fruit juice.

So much for the bad news. Keep reading for a few things that apple cider vinegar might actually do for you.


About the Author

Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS

Monica Reinagel is a board-certified licensed nutritionist, author, and the creator of one of iTunes' most highly ranked health and fitness podcasts. Her advice is regularly featured on the TODAY show, Dr. Oz, NPR, and in the nation's leading newspapers, magazines, and websites. Do you have a nutrition question? Call the Nutrition Diva listener line at 443-961-6206. Your question could be featured on the show.