Health Benefits of Balsamic Vinegar

Balsamic delivers a rich taste while maintaining the acidic kick of vinegar. Commonly seen in glazes, dressings, and reductions, it’s a staple of Italian dishes and has long been recognized as a valuable supplement.

For millennia, people have used balsamic vinegar to clean vegetables and aid in digestion. It has also long been favored for its complex taste, which can add rich flavor to a variety of dishes.

Traditional balsamic vinegar comes from white Trebbiano grapes harvested in Modena, Italy. Harvest takes place as late in the season as possible, followed by slow fermentation and concentration in wooden casks. Classic balsamic may be aged for over a decade before being consumed. The production of commercial balsamic, however, is much faster, with many vinegar products ready after just a few months of aging.

The European Union regulates the production of balsamic vinegar. Products that conform to EU standards receive the Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) label. Balsamic vinegar from Modena also includes the Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) label.

Health Benefits

Balsamic vinegar contains six percent acetic acid, which is slightly higher than the acetic acid rate in distilled and apple cider vinegar.

Used medicinally through the ages, acetic acid is now recognized as a powerful antimicrobial. However, like any product containing acetic acid, balsamic vinegar should be consumed in moderation. Top health benefits associated with the acetic acid in balsamic vinegar include:

Diabetes Management

Balsamic is one of several types of vinegar thought to limit spikes in blood glucose levels. One study suggests that, if taken in moderation prior to eating, vinegar can help people with type 2 diabetes better manage their blood sugar. This study was only conducted on a small group, however, and more research will need to be done to be sure of these findings. Balsamic vinegar should not be used in place of a low-sugar diet or other recommendations from a doctor.

Eliminating Bacteria

The acetic acid in balsamic vinegar may have an antimicrobial effect capable of minimizing the bacteria found on lettuce and other types of produce. Studies suggest that levels of Salmonella on vegetables such as arugula can be contained through exposure to vinegar.

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Nutrition

Balsamic vinegar is low on calories, which makes it a great way to add flavor to healthy dishes without adding fat or sodium.

Balsamic vinegar is o a source of:

Nutrients per Serving

A one-tablespoon serving of balsamic vinegar contains:

Things to Look Out For

If used in excess, the acidic content of balsamic can lead to problems like enamel erosion or heartburn. The benefits can still be enjoyed when consumed in small amounts.

How to Use Balsamic Vinegar

Balsamic vinegar can be found in grocery stores, health food stores, and specialty shops. It typically comes in a dark-colored glass bottle. After purchasing, keep the vinegar in this bottle and store it somewhere cool and dry. Exposure to heat or light may harm the flavor.

While many people associate balsamic vinegar with salad, it is versatile enough to include in a variety of recipes. Try these ideas to incorporate it into your daily diet:

  • Blend into homemade hummus for a rich, tangy flavor.
  • Combine with honey, garlic, and mustard to make a glaze for chicken.
  • Drizzle over strawberries and serve with ice cream.
  • Use as dressing in a romaine salad.
  • Add to a pot of creamy tomato soup.
  • Combine with mayonnaise and Italian seasoning to create a delicious condiment for sandwiches.
  • Mix with olive oil and parmesan cheese when roasting broccoli.
  • Dip hard aged cheese into a small bowl of balsamic to add flavor.
WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Arefa Cassoobhoy, MD, MPH on August 17, 2020

Sources

SOURCES:

Arizona State University: "Vinegar Found to Help Lower Waking Blood Glucose."

CHAFEA: "Balsamic Vinegar of Modena, The Original—Protected Geographical Indication From Europe."

International Journal of Food Microbiology: “Effectiveness of household natural sanitizers in the elimination of Salmonella typhimurium on rocket and spring onion.”

Medscape General Medicine: “Vinegar—Medicinal Uses and Antiglycemic Effect."

Stanford Medicine Ear Institute: "What You Need For Ear Flushes."

U.S. Department of Agriculture FoodData Central: "Vinegar, Balsamic."

U.S. Department of Agriculture FoodData Central: "Vinegar, Distilled."

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