Is Apple Cider Vinegar Considered A Probiotic?

There's a bit of controversy when it comes to deciding if apple cider vinegar is a probiotic. Similar to kombucha, in a bottle of apple cider vinegar, you may find tiny substances floating around. Claims about this fermented apple juice say it aids in weight loss and supports blood sugar, but is it a probiotic? In short — yes, and no.

Probiotics are live microorganisms, mainly bacteria, that live in foods and in the gastrointestinal tract and have health benefits, says the National Institutes of Health. This bacteria is often called "good bacteria," as its essence is important to human health. Many sources of these good bacteria can be found in fermented foods, such as yogurts, kombucha, kefir, etc.,  per the National Institutes of Health.

While apple cider vinegar has a common two-step fermentation process, not all ciders are created the same. First off, some brands offer more probiotic organisms than others, while others contain zero probiotics (The Greatist). While the tanginess of the vinegar might create a sensation that it's probiotic, this doesn't automatically qualify it as such. Secondly, there isn't sufficient research supporting that "the mother" (the cloudy substances floating around) contains high sources of probiotics (Livestrong).

Are there benefits of apple cider vinegar?

Even though apple cider vinegar is not considered a probiotic food, there are some health benefits it may provide. One of the biggest benefits is its ability to lower blood sugar levels, especially for those with diabetes, points out UChicago Medicine. It's important to note that research shows apple cider vinegar does not cure diabetes or substitute medication. If you're concerned, always talk to your physician.

Another major benefit is it can help with weight loss (via UChicago Medicine). While weight loss is achieved by reducing caloric intake and exercising, a 2018 clinical trial published in the Journal of Functional Foods reported apple cider vinegar gives weight loss attempts an added boost. The trial examined participants over 12 weeks, giving one group 15 ml of apple cider vinegar for lunch and dinner, while the control group received none. Researchers found that those who drank the apple cider vinegar lost more weight on average than those who did not, and their cholesterol levels decreased (UChicago Medicine).

In addition, apple cider vinegar helps lower oxidative stress and can help enhance your mood (via The Greatist). If you're a fan of its tangy flavor — enjoy it in moderation. If you need to add more probiotics to your diet, reach for some cheese instead.