Organic apple cider vinegar has a multitude of health benefits and a variety of uses. It is relatively inexpensive, fairly easy to find, and it’s one purchase I don’t think you’ll regret.

First things first, buy organic. Organic, unpasteurized apple cider vinegar contains the ‘mother.’ The mother is made up of protein molecules, which appear as a cloudy substance at the bottom of your bottle. That’s where all the good stuff is, so be sure to shake before pouring!

Contrary to what you might think, many alternative practitioners believe the acidic vinegar actually has an alkalizing effect on your body, helping to maintain a balanced pH level. If our pH levels are too acidic, we cannot properly absorb nutrients, forcing our bodies to take minerals from our bones and tissues. High acid levels also decrease cellular energy, so our cells are less able to repair damaged ones. In other words, you may notice that you are easily fatigued and have a weak immune system. Common acidic culprits are coffee, alcohol, meat and dairy. Try adding apple cider vinegar to your diet for a balanced body.

Apple cider vinegar contains anti-viral malic acid, and with regular consumption you may be less susceptible to common colds. It also contains acetic acid which is thought to reduce fat absorption in the body; it is commonly recommended for weight management programs. It helps detoxify the liver and contains potassium, among other minerals. It can also aid in preventing leg cramps. Need I go on?

Add a tablespoon of ACV and the juice of half a lemon to a glass of water. You can also add natural sweeteners, such as honey or maple syrup instead of lemon, but I happen to like the sour taste and prefer the beverage calorie free. You can enjoy this drink at any time of course, but it is especially beneficial to have before meals. The apple cider vinegar will help aid in digestion and can reduce hunger.

Apple cider is a main ingredient in many delicious salad dressings. Try this adopted recipe from Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa. I omitted orange juice and zest and reduced the amount of oil.

3 tablespoons organic apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons good quality Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons good quality maple syrup
salt and pepper to taste

After shampooing, rinse your hair with apple cider vinegar for added shine. Mix equal parts ACV and water (1/2 cup each is a good amount) and apply from roots to ends after you shampoo. A spray bottle will make this a lot easier, but you can make do without. Leave on for five minutes or so, then rinse. The vinegar will close and seal the hair cuticle, which will improve shine. It will also remove product build up and can kill dandruff causing bacteria. No need to condition afterward (but if your hair is dry like mine, you can still put a little on your ends!).

Last weekend I attended a workshop where the gorgeous Tina Leigh, author of Balanced Raw, spoke. During the question and answer period, audience members commented on how radiant her skin was and she shared her secret with us. She washes her face with apple cider vinegar! I had never thought to put vinegar on my face before… Eager to try it, I used it in place of my regular toner the next day. Mix 1 teaspoon ACV with 2 teaspoons water. I used one my favorite Muji dishes (also great for soy sauce with sushi!) to hold the mixture, then soaked a cotton pad and applied it to my skin. I rinsed with cold water and finished with my regular skin routine. I plan to do this 2-3 times a week. Apple cider vinegar will help restore your skin’s pH balance, and its antibacterial properties can help clear up acne. For dark spots, pour ACV onto a cotton pad and apply directly to the trouble area. 

I use Bragg’s organic apple cider vinegar. Click here to purchase online or look for it in Whole Foods, health food stores or the organic section of your grocery store. Enjoy!