Apple Cider Vinegar vs. White Vinegar – Benefits Compared

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 03/25/2024

Apple Cider Vinegar vs White Vinegar: The Big Difference

Apple cider vinegar vs. white vinegar—what are their health benefits and which one is better?  

The use of vinegar can be tracked as far back as 5000 B.C.E. With its myriad of applications for cooking, cleaning, and even as natural remedies, it's no wonder why different vinegars have been a worldwide staple for millennia. 

Discover the benefits of apple cider vinegar and white vinegar, and learn how you can use vinegar to improve your health and well-being. 

What is white vinegar?

Vinegar production begins with a fermentable carbohydrate, usually a fruit or starch. During fermentation, sugars are transformed into alcohol, which is subsequently converted into acetic acid by acetic acid bacteria, creating vinegar.

White vinegar, also called spirit vinegar, is made by fermenting grain alcohol, typically derived from barley, corn, or wheat. 

After fermentation, white vinegar is filtered to remove impurities and sediment, achieving its distinct clear and transparent appearance that’s often preferred for cleaning applications to avoid staining.

Distilled white vinegar is the most popular and widely available version of vinegar due to its versatility in cooking, cleaning, and other household uses.

The distillation process helps raise vinegar’s acetic acid content and removes residual bacteria and enzymes, which makes vinegar more shelf stable and ensures a neutral flavor and high level of purity.

Distilled white vinegar tends to have an acetic acid content of up to 20 percent, and manufacturers typically dilute vinegar to lower acetic acid concentrations to between five and eight percent to make it less corrosive and more suitable for everyday use. 

Vinegar options in glass bottles

White vinegar nutrition facts

Here are the main nutrition facts for one tablespoon of white distilled vinegar.

  • Calories: 3 kcal 

  • Fat: 0 grams

  • Sodium: 0 mg 

  • Carbohydrates: 0 grams

  • Sugar: 0 grams 

  • Protein: 0 grams 

  • Acetic acid: 5 to 8 percent

  • Calcium: 0.89 mg 

  • Magnesium: 0.15 mg

  • Phosphorus: 0.60 mg

  • Potassium: 0.30 mg

White vinegar benefits and uses

Vinegar’s various benefits and uses are predominantly linked to its high concentrations of acetic acid, a weak acid with potent antimicrobial and disinfectant properties.      

Here are some of the best uses for white vinegar.

1. Household cleaner 

The high acetic acid content of white vinegar acts as a great, non-toxic antimicrobial cleaning agent effective against a wide range of bacteria, mold, and mildew. 

2. Odor neutralizer 

White vinegar naturally neutralizes odors, making it perfect for freshening up kitchen surfaces, carpets, and appliances such as washing machines and dishwashers.

3. Laundry enhancer 

Vinegar brightens and softens fabrics without the need for harsh chemicals and can help remove odors from clothing.

4. Weed control  

Acetic acid can be effective against weeds by disrupting cell membranes when sprayed on plants, which causes them to wither and die. 

However, it’s important to be selective with this application as vinegar can kill a wide range of plant species, not only weeds. 

5. Food preservation

Organic non-GMO white vinegar is ideal for canning foods, especially pickling vegetables, due to its ability to help maintain a safe pH balance and prevent microbial growth. 

Its neutral flavor and clear color make white vinegar one of the best types of vinegar for preserving foods. 

6. Cooking 

The neutral taste of white vinegar is more versatile for cooking and adds acidity to dishes without changing the flavor profile or aesthetics.  

Apples and apple cider vinegar

What is apple cider vinegar?

Apple cider vinegar is produced by fermenting crushed apples or apple juice. 

"The best quality apple cider vinegar is organic, non-GMO, raw, undiluted, and unfiltered apple cider vinegar that contains the mother culture,” explains Dr. Berg.

Apple cider vinegar is often celebrated for containing the mother, which is a by-product of the fermentation process containing a mixture of health-promoting digestive enzymes and probiotic bacteria.  

When choosing apple cider vinegar, it's essential to opt for raw and unfiltered versions that have not been distilled and retain beneficial probiotics and enzymes. 

Additionally, choosing organic apple cider vinegar is recommended to help avoid potentially harmful chemicals and genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

Apple cider vinegar nutrition facts

Here are the main nutrition facts for one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar:

  • Calories: 5

  • Fat: 0 grams

  • Sodium: 1 mg

  • Carbohydrates: 0.2 grams

  • Sugar: 0.09 grams

  • Protein: 0 grams

  • Acetic acid: 5 to 6 percent

  • Calcium: 1.51 mg

  • Magnesium: 1.08 mg

  • Phosphorus: 1.72 mg

  • Potassium: 15.71 mg

measuring apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar benefits

Apple cider vinegar has a long history of use in folk medicine and has traditionally been used to manage various health conditions, such as digestive issues, microbial skin infections, and respiratory problems.  

Here are nine benefits of apple cider vinegar. 

1. Anti-inflammatory

Acetic acid is a potent anti-inflammatory agent, especially in the digestive tract. 

It can inhibit the growth of potentially harmful bacteria by damaging the cell integrity of certain microbes, making it a potential natural option to fight intestinal infections.

2. Antimicrobial and antifungal

A study published in Scientific Reports highlights that apple cider vinegar can help eliminate bacteria and yeasts, such as Escherichia coli (E.coli), staphylococcus, and candida.

3. Cleaning 

Similar to white vinegar, the acetic acid content in apple cider vinegar serves as an excellent, non-toxic, and eco-friendly cleaning agent. 

Using a mixture of apple cider vinegar and baking soda is excellent for many cleaning applications.

4. Antioxidant properties

Apple cider vinegar contains polyphenols, which are natural plant compounds with potent antioxidant properties. 

Polyphenols have been found to help prevent oxidative stress, may inhibit the formation of plaques in the brain, and can help improve cognitive function.

Woman measuring waist circumference

5. Weight management 

A study published by Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry on apple cider vinegar for weight loss found that acetic acid can help reduce waist circumference, visceral fat, and triglyceride levels.

6. Digestive aid

Apple cider vinegar can support a healthy gut microbiome, help manage acid reflux symptoms, and improve digestion by increasing the acidity in the stomach. 

7. Stimulates mucin production

Mucin is a crucial part of the immune barrier in the colon that helps prevent pathogens and other potentially harmful substances from entering the body.

Apple cider vinegar has been found to stimulate mucin production, which promotes overall intestinal health and lowers the risk of intestinal inflammation.    

8. Blood sugar control

Acetic acid may help improve insulin sensitivity and lower blood sugar levels.

Drinking apple cider vinegar and lemon water after meals is an excellent strategy to promote balanced blood sugar levels and metabolic health. 

9. Supports a healthy liver

Apple cider vinegar can help protect the liver from certain heavy metals such as cadmium and aluminum and has been linked to a lower risk of microbial liver infections. 

two different vinegar bottles

Apple cider vinegar vs. white vinegar: what are the differences?

Both apple cider vinegar and white vinegar consistently rank in popularity for their health benefits and versatility—but what's the difference?

Let’s explore the difference between these two popular types of vinegar.

1. Taste

White vinegar has a sharp sourness and, due to being filtered, doesn't carry the flavor profile of its source material. Its neutral, acidic taste is particularly useful for cooking, as it adds acidity without impacting the taste.

Apple cider vinegar features a subtly sweet apple flavor and slightly less sharp acidity than white vinegar, making it an excellent choice for salad dressings, marinades, and certain sauces that call for a fruity note. 

2. Acidity

Both white vinegar and apple cider vinegar typically have similar acetic acid content, ranging between five and eight percent. 

3. Uses and benefits

Due to the filtration and distillation process, white vinegar is one of the least nutritious options. 

However, while white vinegar doesn't have the same nutritional value as apple cider vinegar, research published in Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety has shown that its acetic acid content is highly beneficial for both health and hygiene.

Apple cider vinegar, in its raw and unfiltered form, contains acetic acid, probiotics, and digestive enzymes, making it an ideal natural option for various medicinal purposes. 

Taking a diluted apple cider vinegar drink can promote digestion, lower the risk of microbial infection, and support a healthy weight. 

natural apple cider vinegar on table

Apple Cider Vinegar and Balsamic Vinegar

While there is no magic "weight loss secret" in apple cider vinegar and balsamic vinegar, some studies suggest that incorporating both of these kinds of vinegar into a diet may benefit weight management.

Apple cider vinegar has been associated with increased feelings of fullness, potentially leading to reduced calorie intake and supporting weight loss efforts.

Additionally, some studies suggest that it may help improve blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity, which could benefit weight management, especially for individuals with type 2 diabetes or insulin resistance.

As for balsamic vinegar, it is lower in calories and sugar compared to many other dressings and sauces, making it a potentially healthier option for flavoring meals without adding excessive calories.

Regarding the ketogenic diet, apple cider vinegar is generally considered keto-friendly due to its low carbohydrate content.

However, balsamic vinegar contains a higher amount of carbohydrates, so it's essential to use it in moderation and factor its carbohydrate content into your daily meal plan if you are following a strict keto diet.

It's important to note that while apple cider and balsamic vinegar may offer some benefits, they are not a substitute for a well-rounded, healthy diet and regular exercise.

For successful weight management, focus on a balanced eating plan that includes nutrient-dense foods, appropriate portion sizes, and an active lifestyle.

Key takeaways

Apple cider vinegar vs. white vinegar—each has distinctive qualities, applications, and health benefits. 

White vinegar excels in cleaning and is more versatile for cooking due to its high acetic acid content, neutral flavor, and clear appearance. 

In contrast, raw, non-GMO, unfiltered apple cider vinegar is an ideal choice for medicinal purposes as it contains health-promoting antioxidants, probiotics, and enzymes.



1. Apple cider vinegar vs. white vinegar: which is healthier?

Raw, organic, unfiltered apple cider vinegar sourced from non-GMO apples is generally considered more nutritious than white vinegar and offers more health benefits.  

2. Can I use apple cider vinegar instead of white vinegar?

Yes, you can substitute apple cider vinegar for white vinegar, but remember the flavor difference when substituting it in recipes.

If you're using apple cider vinegar for canning, ensure it’s undiluted and meets the acidity requirements of the food you plan to preserve.

3. Why is apple cider vinegar better than normal vinegar?

Raw, organic, non-GMO, unfiltered apple cider vinegar contains probiotics and enzymes, which offer various health benefits. In contrast, distilled white vinegar doesn’t contain probiotic bacteria or enzymes. 

4. Which is stronger, apple cider vinegar or white vinegar?

White vinegar has a higher acetic acid content but is often diluted to around five to eight percent. 

Apple cider vinegar has similar acetic acid levels but can also be diluted to much lower levels, depending on the manufacturer.

5. Can you substitute white vinegar for apple cider vinegar in canning?

Yes, you can substitute white vinegar with undiluted apple cider vinegar when canning.

As long as vinegar contains at least five percent acetic acid, the required minimum for food safety when canning, it can be used for canning. 

6. Can you substitute white vinegar for apple cider vinegar for salad dressings?

Yes, apple cider vinegar can be an excellent and healthier substitute for white vinegar in salad dressing. However, it does have a distinct flavor profile, and it's recommended to do a sample batch to ensure the taste meets your expectations.

7. What are the most popular types of vinegar? 

There are many popular types of vinegar, including white wine vinegar, malt vinegar, red wine vinegar, rice vinegar, sherry vinegar, and champagne vinegar. 





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