Ingredient of the Week: Incredibly Versatile Apple Cider Vinegar

June 19, 2015
by Kathryn Bloxsom for Thrive Market
Ingredient of the Week: Incredibly Versatile Apple Cider Vinegar

Summer picnic season is here, which means BBQs are in full swing. But anyone who has ever gone overboard on burgers and potato salad knows that heartburn can hit hard.

From fatty foods that lead to indigestion, to sugary treats that send your blood sugar reeling, the potential for picnic-ruining disaster lurks around every corner.

Fortunately, the secret to combating indigestion—and a multitude of other issues—is probably already in your pantry. What is this magical elixir? Apple cider vinegar.

Apple cider vinegar history and uses

Throughout history, this vinegar has been used as a disinfectant, preservative, and condiment. Commonly abbreviated as ACV, apple cider vinegar gets its tangy bite and legendary benefits from acetic acid, a natural product that occurs during fermentation. The highest quality ACV is a murky, unfiltered vinegar. Not sure about those clouds of dark stuff floating in the bottle? Not to worry—that mass is called the "mother," and it's actually perfectly safe, and its loaded with proteins, enzymes, and healthy bacteria.

Apple cider vinegar and digestion

The digestive tract is where ACV really shines: It prevents indigestion, balances blood sugars, and, when sipped with a meal, helps the body absorb nutrients. Drinking a tablespoon of the stuff diluted in water before meals also increases glucose sensitivity. Plus, the acetic acid is thought to block starch digestion, preventing it from entering the blood stream and spiking blood sugar. As undigested starch passes through your body, it feeds the healthy bacteria in your gut—a win-win.

Indigestion soothed? Blood sugars balanced? Yep, and this versatile vinegar has a few more tricks up its sleeve—folk medicine says it can cure everything from hiccups to warts, soften hair, and brighten skin. An all-natural disinfectant, ACV cuts through grease and germs as a household cleaner, and it's a great wash your produce without harsh chemicals. Combined with vegetable oil, apple cider vinegar also makes a great furniture polish and leaves your home smelling like an apple orchard. Used as a mouthwash, ACV may help whiten teeth, banish bad breath, and kill the bacteria associated with sore throats.

How's that for a multitasker? And we haven't even talked about how delicious apple cider vinegar is. Try it in this zingy rainbow chard with bacon, easy Brussels sprout chips, or in a simple digestive tonic.

Photo credit: Alicia Cho

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