Famed as a centuries old health tonic, apple cider vinegar is now taking centre stage as a diet aid. Nutritionist Kerry Torrens discusses whether there’s more to apple cider vinegar than just a tangy addition to a salad dressing.


Find out about the health benefits of apple cider vinegar and also check out our full range of health benefit guides.

What is apple cider vinegar?

From the French for sour wine – vin aigre – it will come as no surprise that apple cider vinegar (ACV) is the product of a second fermentation of apples. The apples are first crushed with yeast to convert their sugar to alcohol, then, during the second fermentation, the alcohol is converted by bacteria called acetobacter to acetic acid.

About 5-6% of ACV is acetic acid. From a nutritional point of view, ACV contains very few carbs, some trace minerals including potassium, and about 3 calories per tablespoon (15ml).

What is the apple cider vinegar diet?

The ACV diet advocates taking 1-2 tbsp (15-30ml) of ACV per day, mixed with water, to achieve the touted weight loss benefits. The dose should be spread out over a 24 hour period, potentially consuming the diluted dose directly before meals.

When you first introduce ACV it’s a good idea to start with a lower amount, say 1 tsp (5ml), diluted in water, to assess your tolerance to it.

Discover the top health benefits of apple cider vinegar and explore even more of our health guides including the benefits of cauliflower and Brazil nuts.

Does the form of apple cider vinegar matter?

Countless blogs and websites claim the secret to ACV’s health potency is to be found in the unfiltered, cloudy version, otherwise referred to as ‘with the mother.’ This sediment or ‘mother’ is made up of amino acids, enzymes and beneficial bacteria but to date there is not enough evidence to support the touted health claims.

What the animal studies suggest is that it is in fact the acetic acid content of ACV which promotes fat loss and burning, reduces fat storage, manages appetite and improves blood sugar and insulin response. This would imply that other vinegars, which have a high acetic acid content, may also provide these benefits.

How can you add apple cider vinegar to your diet?

ACV may be mixed with oil to make a salad dressing or it can be used to make chutneys and pickles.

If you’d like to start adding ACV to your diet, get some inspiration from these nourishing recipes:

Steamed trout with mint & dill dressing
Autumn vegetable salad with saffron dressing
Soused red cabbage

Who shouldn’t do the apple cider vinegar diet?

There are a number of people who should not attempt the ACV diet. These include those with the chronic condition known as gastroparesis, where the movement of food from the stomach to the small intestine is delayed. For these people ,ACV is likely to make their symptoms worse.

Those with histamine intolerance should avoid all fermented foods, this includes vinegars.

Talk to your GP or healthcare professional before starting any new dietary regime, especially if you are under 18 years old, elderly, have a pre-existing medical condition or are on medication including diuretics, insulin or blood sugar balancing drugs.

Last words

As with most things – less is more. Taking more than the recommended 1-2 tbsp of ACV may be harmful – it may interact with prescribed medication or lead to dental damage by causing erosion of the tooth enamel. Taken undiluted and as a single dose, ACV may cause nausea and a burning sensation to your mouth or gullet.

If you are considering attempting any form of diet please consult your GP to ensure you can do so without risk to health.

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This article was published on 2nd October 2020.

Kerry Torrens BSc. (Hons) PgCert MBANT is a registered nutritionist with a post graduate diploma in personalised nutrition & nutritional therapy. She is a member of the British Association for Nutrition and Lifestyle Medicine (BANT) and a member of the Guild of Food Writers. Over the last 15 years she has been a contributing author to a number of nutritional and cookery publications including BBC Good Food.


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