Apple cider vinegar, or ACV as it’s affectionately known, is a wellness staple, with the likes of Victoria Beckham and Jennifer Aniston singing its praises as a health tonic, taken first thing in the morning with warm water. In the last year, we’ve also seen the rise of the drinking vinegar or ‘ shrub ’.
The humble vinegar packs a powerful punch in blood sugar control and cholesterol reduction. “It helps suppress appetite, aids weight loss, soothes the gastrointestinal tract and prevents stomach bloating, cramps and gas,” explains nutritionist Jade Barkett.
In an experiment by Aston University for the BBC’s 'Trust Me I’m a Doctor', volunteers who drank a diluted shot of apple cider vinegar before eating two bagels experienced a blood sugar drop of 36 per cent over 90 minutes (not the case when they drank malt vinegar). Another group of volunteers showed a 12 per cent fall in total cholesterol when they drank two tablespoons of ACV in water twice daily before meals.
"It’s the pectin in ACV that decreases LDL cholesterol levels," explains Jade. “In addition, ascetic acid found in vinegar speeds up the fat burning process,” she says.
ACV is also a prebiotic. “Prebiotics improve gut health by ‘feeding’ good bacteria," she explains. To ensure best results, buy ACV containing The Mother – it should say so on the label - such as Braggs Organic Raw Unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar , £11.10 "This will mean it is unrefined and unpasteurised," says Jade. "The Mother is the colony of beneficial bacteria and contains pectin and probiotics, which help flush out toxins and regulate stool.”
However much we’re sold on the health benefits, there’s no getting around the fact that ACV is an acquired taste. Not everyone can knock back a shot of pure sourness just like that – and what’s more your dentist will caution about the effect of the acid on your tooth enamel (make sure you dilute it and use a straw). Without a little help on the flavour front, it’s pretty hard to love.
But there are some easy ways to cheat ACV into your meals, according to chef Manish Patel.
“The trick is to combine it with strong flavours such as lemon, ginger, turmeric and soy sauce. Citrus especially will always overpower ACV,” he says. It’s worth noting that bacteria are destroyed in cooking over about 40°C so it’s best taken raw, if it’s the probiotics you are looking for.
9 tasty ways to take ACV by chef Manish Patel
- Morning honey and ACV health tonic - add 1-3 teaspoons to warm water and drink about 30 minutes before your first meal. In the Ayurvedic tradition, drinking liquids warm supports digestion. To make it more palatable, add a small amount of honey. Start with 1tsp of vinegar if you are new to the taste.
- All-day tea. Turmeric lemon, ginger and ACV tea - chop or juice a thumb each of fresh root ginger and root turmeric and half a lemon and add 2 teaspoons of ACV. Add to a teapot (use an infuser teapot if using chopped ingredients) with warm water according to taste.
- Poached eggs - splash a little ACV into your poaching water instead of your normal vinegar.
- Smoothies and juices - Add a teaspoon of ACV to any juice or smoothie with citrus or berries or greens
- Tahini ACV salad dressing - this mix of tahini, lemon, garlic, ACV and olive oil is a simple way to add flavour to your food. See recipe below.
- Asian Miso dressing for salads and marinades - we use this in our vegan quinoa sushi rolls. You can also use it to spice up roasted salmon by mixing miso paste, honey, soya sauce and apple cider vinegar. For recipe see below.
- Citrus sauce - we use this oil-free blend of soy, lime ginger, honey and ACV in many dishes as a marinade for fish and also as a sauce and dressing for salads or vegetables. This dressing can stay in fridge for 2 weeks.
- Basic soy broth with tofu, veg and ACV - this is a great both in itself as well as a base for soups and has no added fat as we dry fry and then steam fry. You can then add fresh veg and protein such as fish at the end of cooking. We use it as the base for our Tom Yum soup and our roasted seabass, mushroom, carrot, kale, tofu and tomato in a soy broth.
- Braised red cabbage - traditionally red cabbage is made with apple, but ACV will also give it that apple taste. The strong flavours in the red cabbage and a pinch of cinnamon will mask the ACV. We use this in our Kale and Seaweed salad, which has lots of strong flavours such as radish which go perfectly with ACV. It makes a great side dish or salad base. See recipe below.
Braised red cabbage serve 6 people
400g julienne red cabbage
3 cloves chopped garlic
1 sprig of thyme
2 tbsp cinnamon powder
200ml apple cider vinegar
100ml vegetable stock
2tsp agave syrup
1. Allow the pan to get hot, then add red cabbage, garlic, thyme and sauté it for 10 minutes, as red cabbage has water inside so it will help release moisture so it doesn’t stick to the pan.
2. Then add cinnamon powder, agave syrup, and apple cider vinegar and cook for further 10 minutes, finally add vegetable stock and cook for 15 more minutes.
Miso dressing for Asian flavours
2tbsp miso paste
2tsp lime juice
4tsp apple cider dressing
4tsp soy sauce
1tbsp sesame seeds
1. Mix all the ingredients in blender to make a semi-liquid dressing.
Tahini ACV salad dressing
4tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp tahini
½ squeezed lemon,
1 clove garlic
1 tbsp olive oil
For a more liquid dressing add water. For a thicker sauce and coconut yogurt or more tahini.
Citrus sauce – great for dressings and marinades
50ml soy sauce
50ml lime juice
2 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon grated ginger
20ml apple cider vinegar
Vegetable soy broth (serves 4 people)
50g julienne pepper
50g julienne carrot
30g julienne red onion
30g sliced mushroom
100 ml apple cider vinegar
40ml soy sauce
5g chopped garlic
5g chopped ginger
50g pak choi
Seasoning to taste
1. Allow the pan to get hot, then add all the veg (except kale and pak choi), tofu with ginger and garlic, then add apple cider vinegar and reduce it for 10 minutes.
2. Next, add the water, and allow it to cook further 20 minutes on low flame. Once it’s done add pak choi and kale in last minute to maintain green colours of leaves. You can also add cooked fish such as seabass here.