Celebs have been known to dabble in unconventional health and wellness routines, and it can be hard to discern fact from fad. Stars like Miranda Kerr, Heidi Klum, and Katy Perry (just to name a few) have been quite public about their love for apple cider vinegar, a pantry staple that’s been receiving some extra buzz as of late. Some take the vinegar in the form of a shot first thing in the morning. Others dilute it with a glass of water or lemon juice and spices or toss it with a salad—but does it actually work?
Many sources cite raw apple cider vinegar as somewhat of a cure-all health remedy for its ability to do everything from lower blood pressure and cholesterol to burn fat and boost energy. One study from 2015 found that vinegar improved insulin sensitivity in people with diabetes, but the fermented beverage was also linked to stomach issues for others with the disease. Another study found that the vinegar can reduce appetite, leading to weight loss, but this was actually due to nausea brought on by the drink.
To find out how much of this hype you can believe, we tapped three different nutrition experts to get to the bottom of this wellness craze, namely Ashley Koff, RD, and CEO of The Better Nutrition Program; Dana Kofsky, a wellness stylist at Wellness Styled; and Sammi Haber, RD, and food influencer of Nutrition Works New York. Is apple cider vinegar an elixir of health or just another passing trend? Here’s what you need to know.
Does It Work?
Apple cider vinegar is said to hold a plethora of wellness benefits, but not all are substantiated. The main claim you can take seriously, though, is that cider promotes a healthy digestive system, according to Koff. “It has antimicrobial properties, which help to make our lower digestive tract a better place for good bacteria to live and a less friendly place for bad bacteria,” she explains. It’s precisely this effect on the digestive system that leads to better nutrient absorption, a key factor in energy, metabolism, and cholesterol removal from the body.
However, Koff notes that apple cider vinegar plays only a small role in proper digestion along with green leafy vegetables, water, spices, and other plants.
“Using apple cider vinegar can aid in optimal health, but it’s still imperative to eat and live a healthy life so you can feel optimal,” Kofsky agrees, noting that there’s never a quick fix when it comes to health and wellness. “I assure you that the celebrities who reap the maximum benefits from apple cider vinegar eat right, exercise, get adequate sleep, and do their bests to live healthily,” she adds.
“Unfortunately, there’s no miracle detox that can burn fat and boost metabolism,” Haber agrees. “If there was something with magic powers like that, we would’ve all been doing it years ago,” Although there is research to support some of the beneficial effects of apple cider vinegar, she points out that research is often “misconstrued and over-exaggerated.”
How Should You Use It?
You can find apple cider vinegar drinks at certain stores, you can top it on your salad as a dressing, or you can add it to a mixture with ingredients like lemon juice, ginger, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper. “If you’re considering trying apple cider vinegar, definitely add it to your salad,” says Haber. This way you’ll avoid an acid overload that can damage your teeth and upset your stomach.
Koff agrees that the cider might be better incorporated into a diet with food. “What you don’t want to do is have it with a load of sugar, have poor quality ingredients—like in a store-bought beverage with apple cider vinegar—or drink it straight,” she says. Follow Koff’s advice, and use it as a dressing or add it to a beverage or soup.
“Some people like the idea of having a ‘detox’ drink; it makes them feel healthier,” Kofsky says. Just be sure to know what you’re putting into your body before you go swapping your morning coffee with a health elixir full of new ingredients.
Is an Apple Cider Vinegar Detox Worth Trying?
It seems that all three of the wellness experts are in agreement that a detox is never the way to go when it comes to keeping your body functioning at its best. “Your body needs nutrients to support its detoxification system daily … [apple cider vinegar] doesn’t provide the nutrients the body needs, it simply helps the digestive system work better,” she explains.
“I don’t encourage a detox of any kind,” says Kofsky. She believes the body is able to detoxify itself naturally through healthy diet. “Drinking an apple cider vinegar drink can help in the process, but again, it’s not the magic wand,” she says.
Haber agrees, saying, “detoxes are almost never a good solution. They’re ineffective and unsafe.” She explains that the body can detox on its own with a healthy diet and plenty of fruits and vegetables.
Are There Other Wellness Cures Hiding In the Pantry?
So what other pantry staples should we stock up on for health benefits? Experts agree—organic spices are chock-full of health benefits. Kofsky and Haber both rely on turmeric to decrease bloat and act as an anti-inflammatory. You can also use cinnamon to regulate and stabilize blood sugar levels, according to Kofsky. It seems that apple cider vinegar is just one of many common household items that may be harboring untold wellness benefits meant to be incorporated along with a healthy diet and lifestyle.