The Best Apple Cider Vinegar to Buy Is All in the Label

How to score the most health benefits.

By Jasmin Boyce
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The Apple Cider Vinegar Buyer’s Guide (3:38)

A shot of apple cider vinegar in the morning has become a daily ritual celebrities swear by. Though it seems simple enough to add to your morning routine, the strong acidic taste and vinegary smell in a single shot can be strong enough to make you gag (experts recommend diluting it with water). But if you can manage to get over it, a small amount of apple cider vinegar – commonly shortened to ACV – in the morning can actually make some big changes to the rest of your day. It can be hard to know the best apple cider vinegar to buy based on your health needs, especially considering how many uses ACV actually has.

Apple cider vinegar can help you renew tired skin, whiten your teeth, and make a fruit fly trap — seriously, there are over 101 ways to use apple cider vinegar and counting. Its uses are endless, but it seems like there are just as many complicated terms on the back of the bottle. What does “with the mother” mean? Should you alert the store manager that they’re selling expired bottles of gunk if some bottles appear cloudier than others? Whether you’re looking for health benefits, a beauty boost, or an all-natural cleaning agent, knowing how to read the label will make a huge difference.

Look for the words “raw” or “unpasteurized”

You’d never drink a glass of milk that wasn’t pasteurized, but don’t follow the same rule book when shopping for ACV. It’s best to purchase the apple cider vinegar bottle that’s labeled as “unpasteurized” or “raw” to get the most health benefits. Raw or unpasteurized apple cider vinegar simply means that the product hasn’t been put through a heating process to sterilize the vinegar. That heating process actually robs the apple cider vinegar of its “healthy” bacteria, says Mara Schiavocampo, a reporter for The Dr. Oz Show.

Should you ditch “the mother”?

Don’t tell the store manager about the freakishly cloudy bottles of ACV on the shelf — they’re not expired! Apple cider vinegar bottles labeled as “with the mother” are cloudy because they are unfiltered. The “mother” contains a collection of enzymes and probiotics that can provide added health benefits that filtered ACV can’t, like improved digestion and balanced pH levels in the body, according to Medical News Today.

While unfiltered ACVs are best for those seeking health boosts due to the higher nutrient content, the smooth and clear consistency of filtered apple cider vinegars work well for all-natural beauty DIY’s and household hacks like cleaning and cooking. Filtered apple cider vinegars can be used as an inexpensive toner to fight acne breakouts or an all-natural way to reduce dandruff instead of using pricy salon products.

Tip: Skip out on the chemical-filled skincare products and utilize the acidity of filtered ACV to create a pH balancing toner. Simply combine equal parts filtered ACV and water — add a drop of essential oil for extra hydration and aromatherapy benefits.

How important is the expiration date?

Yes, the expiration date is important when seeking health and beauty benefits, but you don’t need to toss it out after it expires. According to Schiavocampo, apple cider vinegar generally has an expiration date of five years, but the potency of the liquid is at its best within the first two years. Soak up every benefit of ACV by using your older bottles of apple cider vinegar as an all-natural cleaning solution. If you have pets, pouring some apple cider vinegar into the washing machine can help to remove the scent of pet urine.

What are apple cider vinegar supplements?

While the taste of apple cider vinegar isn’t for everyone, the ingredients found in ACV pills isn’t always consistent. The levels of acetic acid in ACV supplements are often not printed on the labels at all. Even when they are printed on the bottle, a Dr. Oz investigation discovered that the acetic acid levels were often mislabeled, and some levels of acidity were even considered toxic. According to Dr. Oz, the safest option is purchasing bottles of liquid apple cider vinegar for all your ACV needs.

For more Dr. Oz wellness tips, recipes, and exclusive sneak peeks from The Dr. Oz Show, subscribe to the Dr. Oz newsletter.

Related:

The Top 3 Ways to Make Apple Cider Vinegar Taste Good

101 Clever Ways to Use Apple Cider Vinegar

3 Ways to Add Apple Cider Vinegar Into Your Morning Routine

Article written by Jasmin Boyce