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You’ve been taking apple cider vinegar (ACV) for a while now. It’s not the most pleasant part of your day, but with possible weight-loss benefits, improved digestion, boosted immunity, and the fact that it’s rich in vitamins E, A, and P and minerals such as magnesium, iron, and calcium, you’re happily sipping it down. But are you taking it all wrong?

Many people pour ACV into their tea or in hot water with lemon to cut the strong flavor, but does heating ACV ruin its benefits? We’ve enlisted the expertise of two nutritionists — Stephanie Clarke, RD, and Willow Jarosh, RD, of C&J Nutrition to answer this burning (pun intended!) question.

They share that the helpful bacteria in ACV are known as acetobacter and lactic acid. Research shows that the acetobacter “thermal death point” is 125-129 °F (for reference, the temperature of boiling water is 212 °F). The good news is those bacterial strains need to be kept at the thermal death point temperature for longer periods of time to kill the bacteria (10 minutes).

Stephanie and Willow say, “If you poured boiling water into a mug and stirred in apple cider vinegar, the temperature of the water would decrease pretty rapidly. So, there would probably still be live bacteria present, but the population would likely be greatly reduced. If you boiled water with ACV in it for longer than 10 minutes, you’d likely kill the bacteria, so you definitely want to avoid that. Both dietitians suggest preserving as many live/active bacteria as possible, by pouring ACV into cool or warm water, not in your boiling water when making tea. Here are some ACV drink recipes you can try.

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