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Experts Agree: Apple Cider Vinegar Is the Health-Boosting Kitchen Staple Every Woman Needs

Just 1 to 2 Tbs. daily can help melt stubborn pounds and lower cholesterol up to 15 points

If you open your pantry cabinet, odds are you have a bottle of apple cider vinegar perched on a shelf. It adds a unique tang to sauces and stews, and it’s a staple in many salad dressing and marinade recipes. But more than that, apple cider vinegar (or ACV) is packed with beneficial compounds. In fact, apple cider vinegar benefits for women are so plentiful, the liquid has been used to heal common ailments for thousands of years.

As far back as 400 BC, Hippocrates — the father of modern medicine — was prescribing apple cider vinegar for everything from cleansing and energizing the body to curing coughs and colds. It turns out he was on to something.

“Apple cider can be beneficial when it’s used as a vehicle for people who start making other healthy changes, like choosing healthier foods or getting more physical activity,” says Elena Dent, PhD, RDN, Associate Professor of Interdisciplinary Health Sciences at Augusta University in Georgia. Here’s how to start soaking up the best apple cider vinegar benefits for women nature has to offer.

What is apple cider vinegar?

Apple cider vinegar is made from crushed, fermented apples, yeast and sugar. It has a tart, tangy flavor that Dent says works well in dressings, but you can also sip it diluted in water or club soda. Like other types of vinegar, ACV contains 5% acetic acid, which is a byproduct of the fermentation process. Researchers speculate this acetic acid is behind many of ACV’s health perks. However, “that could be just one of the ways. There could be multiple mechanisms at play, but we don’t know what they are yet,” Dent explains.

How to get the benefits of apple cider vinegar for women

It doesn’t take much for women to reap the benefits of apple cider vinegar. “You can dilute 1 or 2 Tbs. in a full cup of water once daily,” says Dent, who recommends limiting your ACV intake to that amount. Cutting the ACV with water helps it go down easier, whereas sipping it straight up can burn a little bit. It’s also safer for your teeth and throat (more on that in a minute).

Another option that Dent likes even better? Mix a few tablespoons of ACV with equal parts olive oil to make a zippy salad dressing. “Then you’re getting the vinegar plus leafy green vegetables, which can help lower your blood sugar, cholesterol and weight,” she says. (Tip: Click through to learn if apple cider vinegar goes bad, plus how to store it to maximize shelf life.)

A glass jar of apple cider vinegar and olive oil salad dressing, which has benefits for women
Apple cider vinegar can be mixed with olive oil for a tangy dressing.VeselovaElena/Getty

Who should avoid apple cider vinegar

While apple cider vinegar has a host of health benefits, you should avoid drinking it undiluted. Downing it at full-strength daily has been shown to increase tooth enamel erosion by as much as 18% in eight weeks, one Arizona State University found. It may also irritate the lining of your throat.

If you’re prone to heartburn, you may want to consider avoiding ACV. “The acid in apple cider vinegar may make your symptoms worse,” Dent warns. (Tip: If you suffer from heartburn, click through to see the best fast-acting heartburn relief home remedies.) And finally, let your doctor know if you plan to add ACV to your regular wellness routine. It may interact with certain medications, including insulin and digoxin, a heart medication.

What to look for when buying apple cider vinegar

There’s no need for women to shell out extra money for raw, unfiltered or organic apple cider vinegar, Dent says. “The benefits are thought to come from acetic acid, and you can find acetic acid in any type of apple cider vinegar,” she explains.

Raw, unfiltered ACV contains leftover bacteria and yeast from the fermentation process, which is thought to contain gut-healthy probiotics. However, studies haven’t shown that the amount of probiotics in a spoonful or two of ACV is enough to serve up any meaningful benefits, Dent says.

In other words, an inexpensive bottle of the supermarket-brand ACV will do the trick! Just make sure the product you buy is free of additives like sugars or flavorings, Dent advises. The only ingredient should be apple cider vinegar (and possibly water).

Top apple cider vinegar benefits for women

Ready to reap the rewards of apple cider vinegar? Here’s a look at the tart liquid’s many proven perks.

1. ACV steadies blood sugar

High blood sugar can raise your risk of developing diabetes (which can cause more serious complications in women) and trigger your body to store more fat, Dent explains. Thankfully, ACV helps keep your glucose levels steady.

In fact, consuming just 1 Tbs. of apple cider vinegar daily can lower fasting blood sugar levels by nearly 8 points in 8 weeks, found a review of 9 studies in BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies. Researchers suspect that the acetic acid in vinegar may make your body more sensitive to insulin, the hormone that controls blood sugar levels. “When we’re more sensitive to insulin, it helps lower blood sugar,” Dent explains. (Not a fan of ACV? Click through to learn how the chlorogenic acid in coffee balances blood sugar, too.)

2. ACV curbs cravings

Menopause-related sleep woes like night sweats and more frequent trips to the bathroom can leave you exhausted. This, in turn, ups your risk for sugary cravings. But sipping a spoonful or two of diluted ACV alongside a meal, especially a carb-heavy one like pasta or a bagel, can help.

Research in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that the acetic acid’s beneficial effects on blood sugar can keep your levels from spiking for 90 minutes after eating. That’s key since stable blood sugar levels help you stay satisfied while spikes and crashes make you prone to cravings. The result: You’ll be less tempted to grab a donut from the break room or dip into that ice cream pint in the freezer.    

3. ACV speeds weight loss

If you’re struggling to drop pesky pounds that have crept up over the years thanks to menopause-related hormone shifts, work a little apple cider vinegar into your daily diet. A study in the Journal of Functional Foods found that those who added 1 Tbs. of ACV to their daily reduced-calorie diet lost more weight, inches and belly fat compared to those who simply cut calories. “Apple cider vinegar’s acetic acid suppresses appetite, making it easier to stop eating,” explains Earl Mindell, PhD, author of Prescription Alternatives.

Related: Apple Cider Vinegar Challenge: Lose Weight in 72 Hours With This 3-Day Diet Plan

4. ACV makes skin radiant

As we age, skin tends to appear more dull and lackluster. But it doesn’t have to! Apple cider vinegar benefits for women include a more radiant, glowing complexion. To get the youth-boosting results, simply combine four parts water to one part ACV in a bottle. Shake the mixture well, then apply a few dabs to your face daily with a cotton ball like you would a toner, recommends Brendan Camp, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City. Apple cider vinegar’s natural acids act as gentle exfoliants and astringents to slough off dead skin cells and reveal healthy, brighter skin underneath, he explains.

A woman with short grey hair swiping a cotton round on her face to apply apple cider vinegar

5. ACV safeguards your heart

Menopause-related hormone changes mean that your risk for heart disease and heart attacks goes up after age 50. The good news: Apple cider vinegar helps keep your ticker in tip-top shape. Folks who took 1 Tbs. of ACV daily for three months lowered their cholesterol by 15 points and their triglycerides by 12 points, found a study in the International Journal of Medical Research & Health Sciences. This eases strain on your heart to lower your risk of heart trouble.

Related: Quercetin for Heart Health: MD Says It’s Key To Lowering Blood Pressure + Cholesterol — and It Costs Just Pennies a Day!

6. ACV wards off hangovers

Find yourself more prone to next-day headaches and fatigue after enjoying an alcoholic sipper as you get older? ACV to the rescue! In decades past, folks often started the evening with a sweet-and-zesty “shrub” mocktail that combined fruit, sugar and vinegar. And sipping one made with ACV at least a half hour before your first alcoholic sip is one of the best ways to sidestep hangovers.

Research in Japanese Pharmacology and Therapeutics found that apple cider vinegar slows alcohol absorption by up to a third. This helps prevent your body from being overwhelmed by a flood of toxins that trigger hangovers. To do: Combine 2 Tbs. apple cider vinegar, ¼ cup apple juice and 1 Tbs. honey in a glass. Top with ½ cup sparkling water. Enjoy!

7. ACV makes hair shiny

No need to splurge on pricy shampoos or hair masks to restore your hair’s natural glossy sheen. When applied topically, the acids in apple cider vinegar strip away excess oils and skin cells that build up on your scalp and strands, leaving your hair bright and silky, Dr. Camp says. To get the benefits, once or twice a week combine five parts water to one part apple cider vinegar in a bottle. Shake the mixture well, then apply it to your hair after shampooing and let it sit for for 2 to 3 minutes. Afterward, rinse out and style as usual. (Click through for more apple cider vinegar hair benefits.)

A blonde woman in a white t-shirt with a peach background

Related: How to Prevent Split Ends According to Celebrity Hairstylists — 9 Ways to Guarantee Hair Looks Healthy, Thick and Shiny

8. ACV soothes varicose veins

Aging increases your risk for varicose veins, those twisted, enlarged veins that often form in the legs and cause pain. And women get them almost twice as often as men. Applying ACV to the affected area can diminish their appearance and ease the ache. One study in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine found that participants undergoing varicose vein treatment who applied a washcloth dampened with apple cider vinegar to their varicose veins for 30 minutes twice daily, while elevating their legs at a 45-degree angle, experienced less cramping, swelling and itching compared to those who didn’t use ACV. (Click through for more of the best natural varicose vein remedies.)

For more good-for-you foods and drinks:

Why Doctors Recommend Women Eat More Sunflower Seeds — 4 Big Health Benefits

MDs Reveal How Yogurt Can Calm Heartburn + The Stir-In That Boosts The Benefit

For more ways to use apple cider vinegar:

Apple Cider Vinegar For Laundry? Yes! It Makes Clothes Look, Smell + Feel Brand New

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