Is apple cider vinegar the same as cider vinegar? Yes. People also call it ACV for short. When they say it contains "the mother" in it, they're talking about the live enzymes, strands of protein, and prebiotics (which feed the healthy microflora - or probiotics - in your gut). The mother is what gives the bottle that cloudy appearance of small cob webs running through it. But is raw organic apple cider vinegar bad for you?
Well consider this... balsamic, white and red wine vinegar can lower your body's pH, making it more acidic. Many diseases such as cancer, heart diseases, and other illnesses prosper in an acidic environment (1). However apple vinegar is different - it is alkalizing - meaning it it can increase your body's pH, making it less acidic. Perhaps it may be bad to drink ACV on an empty stomach without water, but aside from that, this is actually a very healthy superfood that can easily be incorporated into your diet. Combine with your favorite spices to use as a low calorie salad dressing or marinade that's good for you (much better than refined oil and processed dressings with tons of added sugar). Many people dilute a small amount with water and drink the mix straight everyday.
Does apple cider vinegar have antioxidants? The USDA did not specify what brand or type was used for their ORAC test, which is a measure of the total antioxidant content within a food. They only identified it by the National Nutrition Database number 02048, which corresponds to cider vinegar. Even though Bragg's Organic is arguably the most popular brand in the United States, chances are they used a non-organic, more "average" brand such as Heinz. Regardless, the measurement should not differ materially between brands, because most - including Heinz - is unfiltered and with the mother in it. We're not saying organic apples aren't healthier, but for the purpose of measuring antioxidant content, it almost certainly would not make a difference for a processed bottled product such as this. With those caveats said, as you can see the ORAC value of ACV is 564, which is relatively low.
Especially when you consider the fact that this amount was calculated using a 100 gram sample of the vinegar. As you can see on the nutritional label of Bragg's apple cider, a 1 tablespoon serving is 15 mL. The math is easy because 100 mL = 100 grams (see, the metric system is sometimes simpler!), which means if you divide 100 by 15, you get 6.67 tablespoons as the amount of ACV tested. If you divide out the ORAC value of 564 we discover how much antioxidants are in a single 1 tablespoon serving... that's an ORAC value of 85.
To put that in perspective, 100 grams of an unhealthy frozen Tony's cheese pizza has an ORAC value of 80, which is almost the same as 1 tablespoon (15 mL) of apple cider vinegar. So the amount you are getting from ACV is not particularly impressive, though some antioxidants are certainly better than none. The real reason to utilize ACV as part of your diet is for its other health benefits.
USDA Database for the Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) of Selected Foods, Release 2 - Prepared by Nutrient Data Laboratory, Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center (BHNRC), Agricultural Research Service (ARS), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) - May 2010