Kombucha and apple cider vinegar are two unique health fads that many people, myself included, have some questions and reservations about. For example do these two drinks actually have any benefits? How do they compare to each other?
In this article, I'll compare the two side by side for you and go over in detail the health benefits, risks, cost, and taste of each. There's a lot to cover so lets get right into it!
What is Kombucha?
Kombucha is a carbonated and flavored probiotic drink made from fermented tea. Because it is fermented, kombucha contains beneficial bacteria called probiotics. The drink has become quite popular in recent years due to its great taste and many health benefits such as improved digestion and gut health, detoxification, and immune system strengthening.
What is Apple Cider Vinegar?
Apple cider vinegar is made by crushing apples, mixing them with yeast, covering them in water, and then leaving them at room temperature for the sugars in the apples to ferment into alcohol and acetic acid.
So while kombucha is fermented sweet tea, apple cider vinegar is fermented apple juice.
Drinking a shot (1oz) of apple cider vinegar every day is a relatively new trend in the health community that has become extremely popular due to the drinks perceived health benefits.
While proponents of ACV claim that it's a superfood with tons of health benefits, critics claim that it doesn’t have as many benefits as people think and is just a lazy attempt to compensate for a lack of consistent exercise and healthy diet.
I searched through all the hype around apple cider vinegar to find the real health risks and benefits so that we can figure out if it is all that some people claim, and whether or not it’s better than kombucha.
First, lets talk about the health benefits of each drink.
The Health Benefits of Kombucha
Kombucha is Full of Probiotics
Kombucha is best known for the beneficial bacteria, or probiotics, that it contains. Probiotics are found in a lot of other fermented foods such as kefir, sauerkraut, yogurt, kimchi, and some cheeses.
Your body, especially your gut, is filled with good and bad bacteria. And it’s believed that the modern western diet which is so full of sugar and processed foods harms these good bacteria in your gut. This is bad because a lack of beneficial bacteria in the body can lead to digestive problems, diarrhea, and infections such as candida.
Fermented foods with probiotics like kombucha replace and replenish these beneficial bacteria in your gut and may
Kombucha has the Benefits of Tea
Because kombucha is made from tea, you can get all the benefits that you would normally get from drinking tea when you drink kombucha.
Most store bought booch is made with a combination of green and black tea, which according to Healthline.com may:
Have antioxidant properties
Kombucha is a Subsitute for Sugary Drinks
One benefit of kombucha over ACV is that it actually tastes good and can be used as a substitute for sugary drinks such as soda and juice, which are one of the most fattening parts of the modern diet.
The reason that sugary drinks are so bad for you is because they are full of empty calories, or calories without many nutrients. Empty calories don't contribute to you feeling full, so they are usually extra calories added onto your diet.
Kombucha can be used as a healthier, lower sugar, lower calorie substitute to sugary drinks such as soda because it tastes really sweet, but most bottles only have around 10g of sugar, almost 4x less than a can of coke (39g).
I’ve found that when I am craving soda, kombucha can satisfy that craving because its sweet, acidic, and fizzy taste really closely resembles it. Simply substituting a kombucha for a sugary drink like soda will significantly lower your sugar and caloric intake on top of giving you all the awesome probiotic and antioxidant benefits.
Health Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar by itself isn’t going to make you a healthy person. But, when added to a proper diet and exercise routine it can provide a lot of great health benefits.
Apple cider vinegar may help lower blood sugar levels and manage diabetes
Many different studies have found that apple cider vinegar can significantly increase insulin sensitivity and lower blood sugar after a meal.
Help prevent weight gain and promote weight loss
Reduce risk of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes
Reduce stress hormones and inflammation
Apple cider vinegar may cause weight loss
Apple cider vinegar is extremely low in calories. And studies have found that a spoonful of ACV (which is only 3 calories!) can increase feelings of fullness, leading to you eating fewer calories from other food and therefore lose weight.
As I said before, apple cider vinegar isn’t a miracle worker. If your diet and exercise routine is poor, you’re not gonna lose weight no matter how much vinegar you drink. It does, however, appear to be able to help and assist with the weight loss journey.
Now it's time to talk about the not so fun stuff: health risks.
Health Risks of Kombucha
Kombucha can Be Dangerous for Pregnant and Nursing Women
Kombucha contains a small amount of alcohol that results naturally from the fermentation process. The alcohol content in store bought kombucha is required to be less than 0.5% in order for it to be sold and marketed to minors according to federal regulations, but home brewed booch can get as high as 3% due to the lack of regulation and consistency.
For reference the average beer is 4.5% alcohol.
Although the 0.5% alcohol content of store bought booch is about the same amount of alcohol as is in a ripe banana or grape juice, It's still recommend pregnant women avoid drinking kombucha.
They should definitely avoid home brewed booch, since its alcohol content is usually not measured and can get up to an amount of alcohol close to that of a beer, but even store bought booch can have more alcohol than it's supposed to.
Although it’s tightly regulated, there still is a small chance that a bottle of kombucha at the store hasn’t been stored properly and could contain more than 0.5% alcohol content, putting the health of a baby in danger.
In the past there have even been lawsuits against kombucha brands because some of their kombucha on store shelves was found to have over 0.5% alcohol.
I don’t think it’s worth it for pregnant women to risk the health of their baby on the promise of one of these kombucha brands that their drink is below a certain alcohol level, especially since they have been wrong in the past.
If you’re pregnant or nursing and still want to enjoy kombucha, there are non alcoholic kombucha options. My favorite non-alcoholic booch is made by a brand called Humm Kombucha. I reviewed Humm in my Top 5 Best Kombuchas on Amazon article if you’d like to learn more about it. Or, you can check it out for yourself on Amazon here
Kombucha can Cause Stomach Aches and Nausea
The probiotics and acids in kombucha are normally really good for your gut health and digestion. However some people, especially when they’re new to the drink, can get stomach aches or nausea from drinking them.
Kombucha stomach aches are usually from the acidity, yeast, and carbonation in the drink. And most of the time happen when someone is drinking it too fast, or is new to the drink and their body has a hard time processing it.
If you’re new to kombucha and are getting bloated, stomach aches, or nausea, I recommend slowing down and only drinking a quarter of a bottle at a time to allow your body to get acclimatized. You can then move to drinking half a bottle when comfortable, and after that a full bottle.
Kombucha can be Dangerous for People with Weak Immune Systems
If you have HIV, AIDS, are on chemotherapy, are taking immunosuppressants, or have any other condition that weakens your immune system, your body could be vulnerable to infection from the bacteria and yeast in kombucha and you should probably avoid drinking it until you consult a doctor.
Health Risks of Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar slows down the speed at which food leaves the stomach, which can be a problem for people with digestive diseases that already disrupt digestion such as gastroparesis
ACV can also cause feelings of nausea in some people, but it isn’t very common.
Erosion of Tooth Enamel
Apple cider vinegar is very acidic. If this acid stays stuck to your teeth for a while, it could damage the tooth enamel. To avoid this it’s recommended that you swish some water around your mouth after drinking apple cider vinegar to get rid of any acid stuck to your teeth.
There are a few medications that can negatively react with apple cider vinegar. Three of the main ones are insulin, digoxin, and some diuretic drugs. If you're taking any of these medications, you may want to consult a doctor before drinking ACV.
Alright enough of the health talk, time to compare the taste of the two.
Taste of Kombucha
Kombucha and ACV differ a lot in the taste category.
Kombucha is sold in 12-16oz bottles and has a sweet and bitter, alcoholic, and fizzy taste that is meant to be slowly sipped on and enjoyed. The vinegary taste is there but it's pretty light due to dilution and the sugar and flavoring.
Although all kombuchas share a sweet, bitter, and alcoholic taste, much of kombucha's taste depends on its flavoring. Some flavors, like mango pineapple, will make the kombucha taste light and sweet, while others, like ginger turmeric, will make the kombucha taste bold and spicy.
Taste of Apple Cider Vinegar
Part of the reason apple cider vinegar's taste is a lot different than kombucha is because kombucha is only partially fermented to retain some of its sweetness, while ACV is fully fermented and has almost no leftover sugar.
Because it's not diluted or sweetened like kombucha, apple cider vinegar has a really strong vinegary taste that can make your eyes water, which is why most people who drink ACV will drink it as a shot. If you can't handle or don't want to take a shot of ACV, you can dilute it with water before drinking.
Cost of Kombucha
A bottle of store bought kombucha, which holds 2 servings, usually costs from 3-5 dollars.
The reason that kombucha is so expensive is because of how unique of a beverage it is. Since it’s fermented and made with a living culture of bacteria, the brewing process is very specific and detail oriented, which also means more expensive.
Kombucha brands usually brew their booch in lots of small batches that need to be constantly monitored and adjusted by someone, which makes it a very labor intensive process. And labor is expensive.
It’s important to note that this 3-5 dollar price per bottle only applies to store bought kombucha. If you brew your own kombucha at home you can make gallons of the stuff for very little cost (about $0.50-1.00 a bottle)
Cost of Apple Cider Vinegar
One of the biggest advantages of apple cider vinegar over kombucha is how cheap it is. While 2 servings of store bought kombucha will cost you $4, you can get a bottle of apple cider vinegar with 32 servings in it for less than $9.
To put it in perspective, if you were to drink a serving of kombucha every day for a month, it would cost you around $60. However if you were to drink a serving of apple cider vinegar every day for a month, you wouldn't have even fully emptied the $9 bottle.
So Which is Better? Apple Cider Vinegar or Kombucha?
The goal of this article was to look at kombucha and apple cider vinegar side by side and give you as much information as possible about each to be able to make the decision of which to drink yourself.
Choosing between drinking ACV or kombucha will depend on your budget, health condition, health goals, and personal preference. I can't make the decision for you. I run a kombucha website after all, I'm probably little bit biased :)
Being the owner of a kombucha website and a longtime fan of the drink, I of course will continue to drink kombucha more than apple cider vinegar. I think that its health benefits are a little more proven than ACV, but mostly I just really enjoy the experience and taste of drinking it.
You however, should make the choice that best suits your needs. Heck drink them both if you want!
If you’re interested in trying kombucha, you should check out my article, Where to Buy Kombucha and The Top 5 Best Brands to learn about the best places to get kombucha and which brands to buy.
If you’d like to try apple cider vinegar, you can find that $9 bottle with 32 servings I was talking about earlier on Amazon here.
You can also get apple cider vinegar gummies on Amazon here. I've never had them before but they look yummy.
And if you want to learn more about kombucha, how it relates to your health, and even how to brew it yourself, be sure to check out the rest of my website!