The Main Difference Between Filtered And Unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar

Vinegar has long been used as a healing remedy. In fact, the word balsamico, as in balsamic vinegar, means curative in Latin (via Taste). According to West Virginia University (WVU), as far back as the biblical age, roughly 1400 B.C., by some estimates, different types of vinegar were used as medicines. One that was a popular cure even back then was apple cider vinegar. WVU says that the father of modern medicine, Hippocrates, would often prescribe a draft of apple cider vinegar mixed with honey to cure and treat an assortment of ailments.

Today, the highly acidic liquid finds its home in recipes for doughnuts, marinades, and other items (like cookie dough) in need of a bright vinegary punch. It also continues to be treated as a miracle of holistic medicine. Consuming apple cider vinegar has been recommended to help manage diabetes, lower cholesterol, and improve weight loss, though some of these claims, like weight loss, are unproven (via WVU). One important key to many of these health benefits, though, is the kind of apple cider vinegar that is being consumed.

Apple cider vinegar's health benefits diminish when filtered

Apple cider vinegar is available in two options: filtered and unfiltered. An unfiltered apple cider vinegar often appears cloudy, with fibrous droplets of matter hanging around in the bottle (via Enzymedica). While this may not be the most appetizing description, if you're drinking apple cider vinegar for the health benefits, this is the one you'll want. Those stringy bits are from a substance most commonly referred to as the mother culture.

As Patric Rhys explains, the mother of vinegar is a colony of bacteria similar to kombucha's SCOBY that facilitates the fermentation process. These good bacteria are probiotics that are the source of many of apple cider vinegar's healing and medicinal properties, Enzymedica notes. The drink also contains many enzymes that help break down and process nutrients in food during digestion.

According to WVU, the mother culture and the bacteria are killed off when apple cider vinegar gets purified and heated. Once those bacteria are no longer present in the liquid, the health and digestive benefits disappear along with them (via Enzymedica). If you only keep your apple cider vinegar around to add to the occasional recipe, then the filtered variety will serve your purposes just fine. However, if you're aiming for the health benefits it provides, look for labels that say they contain the mother culture or are unfiltered.