Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is a type of vinegar that’s often used for its potential hair and weight loss benefits. It’s also touted as a digestive aid due to its purported probiotic content.
So, here’s the big question: Is apple cider vinegar a probiotic?
Short answer: Not really. Keep reading for the full scoop.
First, a quick review: ACV is an apple product produced by a two-part fermentation process: alcoholic fermentation + acetic acid fermentation.
The result is a tangy vinegar swimming with beneficial organisms, including:
You might have caught that “beneficial organisms” could be code forprobiotic.” But just because ACV contains some probiotic organisms doesn’t make it a probiotic.
According to the International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics (ISAPP), probiotics are live microorganisms that benefit health when taken in certain amounts. ACV doesn’t fit the definition.
One 2016 study did pinpoint lactic acid bacteria and acetic acid bacteria as the two main bacteria groups in commercial ACV samples. The lactic acid bacteria group, which includes the Lactobacillus species, is one of the most important groups of probiotics. You’ll find it in fermented foods like kimchi, kefir, and, yes, ACV.
But again, just because vinegar is a fermented food doesn’t mean it should be labeled as a “probiotic fermented food.” The population of live microorganisms in ACV isn’t defined clearly enough, and there’s no crystal-clear health benefit linked to the probiotics it *may* contain.
Though you shouldn’t depend on ACV for your probiotic intake, it might offer other health perks.
But we before we dive in, we should mention that ACV isn’t a cure-all. Most health claims surrounding ACV are pretty exaggerated, and you should be wary of ACV products claiming to treat, prevent, or cure disease.
Supplementing with ACV could be good for your metabolic health (e.g. blood sugar and blood lipid levels).
A small 2021 research review of 9 studies found that ACV consumption significantly decreased these:
BUT, these benefits were linked to ingesting at least 15 milliliters (about 1 tablespoon) of ACV per day — and usually for more than 8 weeks. That adds up to be a lot of vinegar.
These potential metabolic perks might be due to ACV’s flavonoids, which have powerful antioxidant properties.
Although studies are limited, supplementing with ACV may:
These findings are promising, but more research is needed. Most potential benefits are linked to weeks or months of large daily doses of ACV. You’re unlikely to notice health benefits from the ACV drizzle in salad dressing or marinade. Plus, the jury’s still out on how mega-doses could really affect overall health.
ACV might not be the probiotic superstar you’d hoped it would be, but don’t fret. There are plenty of other foods and bevvies brimming with probiotics.
Just remember: Many fermented foods have probiotic strains without proven health benefits. Others that do contain perk-proven probiotics don’t offer enough to impact health. Your best bet is to nosh on a variety of fermented foods to boost your probiotic intake.
Here are some foods and drinks with probiotics:
Some cheeses, fermented grain drinks (like boza and bushera), and non-heat-fermented vegetables also contain probiotics.
Though some types of ACV contain probiotic microorganisms, the vinegar cannot be classified as a probiotic. That’s because the type and volume of microorganisms varies too much. Plus, there’s no clear health benefit related to the probiotic organisms ACV may contain.
To fill up on probiotics, eat a variety of fermented foods like kefir, kimchi, and sauerkraut.
Probiotic supplements might be helpful for some people, but it’s always best to check with your doctor or dietitian first. They can help you pinpoint the right probiotic for your health needs.
Last medically reviewed on March 27, 2022
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