Balsamic vinegar is a popular ingredient in salad dressings, marinades, and many other foods. It is has a distinctive flavor that is often described as bold, tart, and complex. Some studies suggest that balsamic vinegar has additional health benefits, ranging from improving a person’s complexion to lowering cholesterol and aiding weight loss.
In this article, we look at the potential health benefits of balsamic vinegar and the scientific research that may give them weight.
Ten health benefits of balsamic vinegar
The health benefits of balsamic vinegar may include the following:
1. Improving skin health
Balsamic vinegar contains antimicrobial compounds, acetic acid, and antioxidants. These components may help improve a person’s complexion over time.
Other clear vinegars have been topically applied to the skin to help clear up acne. Balsamic vinegar can cause stains, however, so should not be applied directly to the skin.
2. Reducing blood sugar
Balsamic vinegar helps regulate blood sugar when eaten as part of a meal.
One review that examined the scientific effects of vinegar found that balsamic vinegar has an antiglycemic impact when consumed, meaning a person’s blood sugar will spike less drastically after a meal.
The review indicated that vinegar could help create a blood sugar plateau for a period of up to 5 hours following a meal.
3. Promoting healthy digestion
Acetic acid is the active compound in balsamic vinegar. This acid contains strains of probiotics that aid digestion.
The probiotics found in acetic acid can help promote good gut health and digestion while supporting overall immune function.
4. Lowering cholesterol
Balsamic vinegar may help lower cholesterol. The antioxidants in balsamic vinegar help block toxic cells in the body that can raise cholesterol levels.
According to one study, involving rabbits with high cholesterol, it is possible that consuming balsamic vinegar can help lower or maintain already low cholesterol levels.
5. Losing weight
The probiotics in balsamic vinegar can also help make a person feel full for longer.
Some research indicates that people may consume fewer calories throughout the day when they add vinegar to their morning meal.
6. Treating wounds
Balsamic vinegar has been used for many years to help treat wounds. It is suggested that balsamic vinegar has antifungal, antiviral, and antibacterial properties. These claims have not been well studied, however.
7. Reducing hypertension
Consuming balsamic vinegar may help a person feel fuller for longer.
One study, although again involving rats, determined that balsamic vinegar may help lower blood pressure. This research suggested that regularly adding balsamic vinegar to foods could help reduce high blood pressure over time.
This may be true if a person replaces fatty foods, such as butter and oil, with vinegar, thus lowering the total amount of fats they consume.
8. Relieving congestion
Some people use balsamic vinegar to help treat congestion. To do this, a person can add a few drops of vinegar to steaming water and breathe in the vapor.
9. Reducing acid reflux
People can try using balsamic vinegar to help reduce acid reflux or heartburn.
This remedy may not work for everyone, so it is a good idea to try it in small amounts and wait several hours to see whether it makes symptoms better or worse.
10. Promoting blood circulation
Balsamic vinegar is derived from grapes. Studies have found that grapes may help prevent cardiac disease by preventing platelets from building up in blood vessels.
Balsamic vinegar also contains polyphenols. Researchers are exploring how polyphenols aid in blood circulation, but the evidence is inconclusive so far.
Consuming too much balsamic vinegar may cause an upset stomach.
There are few risks to using balsamic vinegar, as it is generally safe to consume unless a person has an allergy. Possible risks include:
upset stomach from consuming too much
inflammation of the throat
damage to the food pipe from drinking too much
A person should limit their intake to about 2 tablespoons or less, as drinking too much can cause an upset stomach and other issues.
People should pay careful attention to the label of the balsamic vinegar they buy. Genuine balsamic may be expensive but does not contain added sugars. Other brands may contain additional sugars to help match the taste of genuine balsamic vinegar.
Balsamic vinegar is usually safe to add to foods. It contains very few calories, is low in sugar, and is fat-free.
In addition, there are several potential health benefits associated with balsamic vinegar. Though more research is still needed to understand these benefits, a person can feel good about making balsamic vinegar a part of a healthful diet.
Last medically reviewed on May 24, 2018
Interesting Balsamic Vinegar Facts
Balsamic vinegar contains no balsam. The word balsamico (from Latin balsamum, from Greek βάλσαμον) means “balsam-like” in the sense of “restorative” or “curative”. For centuries in Italy, grapes have been aged for decades in wood barrels and the resulting vinegars were called Balsamic Vinegar. They are very different from most Balsamic Vinegar’s you will find on a grocery store chain shelf (most of which consist of a cheap wine vinegar with corn syrup, flavorings and caramel coloring added).
All of our Vinegars are made in the traditional Solera Method, most coming to us straight from Italy! (2 special ones from USA and one from France) The Solera method involves cooking down fresh pressed grapes, in a copper kettle, into a thick sweet syrup called grape “must”. The grape must is then placed in HUGE wooden barrels with more grape juice, sealed and aged. As it ages it goes through a progression of smaller wood barrels (cherry, oak, maple, ash) thickening and condensing in sweetness and flavor with each step. It goes through this process for up to 18 years!
For our fruit vinegar’s, the grape must, and grape juice are mixed with the concentrated juices from actual fruits and aged together in the wooden barrels for years to create an aged fruit vinegar. They taste like fresh fruit because the only ingredient is grape juice and fruit juice! (Or espresso beans, cacao beans or Tahitian Vanilla beans).
You will NOT find any sugar, corn syrup, artificial flavorings or coloring or caramel coloring in any of our vinegar’s.
THESE ARE ALL NATURAL, LIVE FOODS WITH ENZYMES FOR HEALTH!
From ancient folk medicine to modern miracle Balsamic vinegar has been used since ancient times as a zesty seasoning and a healthy tonic to relieve fatigue, help digestion and aid in weight loss.
Read on only if interested in very technical information!
Digestive Benefits of Balsamic Vinegar
The digestive system can benefit greatly from balsamic vinegar. The vinegar boosts the activity of pepsin, an enzyme that breaks protein down into smaller amino acids that can be more easily absorbed by the body. Pepsin helps to improve the body’s metabolism as well. Balsamic vinegar can also improve insulin sensitivity for diabetic allowing for an easier regulation of blood sugar and reducing unpleasant side effects from diabetes.
Heart Disease and Cancer
Red grapes, like those used in making balsamic vinegar, contain a bioflavonoid known as quercetin. This works as an antioxidant and operates with Vitamin C to stimulate the immune system to fight infection, cancer, and inflammation. The seeds in grapes contain a substance called pyenogenols. This substance has a high degree of antioxidant and fights arthritis, cardiovascular problems, stress and allergies. The resveratrol in grapes has been the aim of recent research. The University of Illinois recent studies show promising evidence that balsamic vinegar consumption slows down or stops the growth of tumors. Studies show it inhibits tumor growth at the initiation, promotion and progression stages. France’s Liver Research Study Group says resveratrol helps prevent liver cancer by blocking the invasion of tumor cells. Science laboratories report findings that it stops the development of an enzyme linked to breast cancer. The University of Wisconsin’s research shows that flavonoids in purple grape juice prevent the thickening of the arteries that hinder the flow of blood to the heart.
Research continues to study the properties of grapes in the nation’s fight against cancer and heart disease.
Antioxidants work to repair damage caused by free radicals, which are products produced by the oxygen used in our body. Balsamic vinegar contains polyphenols- anti oxidants that can protect the body from heart disease and cancer. The grapes that are used to make balsamic vinegar also contain antioxidants that fight against cell damage, improve the body’s immune system and make blood platelets more flexible, thus preventing heart or circulation problems.
Balsamic vinegar also works to suppress the body’s appetite and increase the amount of time it takes for the stomach to empty, which can contribute to weight loss by preventing overeating. According to nutrition data, balsamic vinegar is a source of calcium, iron, manganese and potassium, which improve the body’s functioning and weight loss abilities.
7 Ways to Use Balsamic Vinegar that Don’t Involve Salad Dressing
Drizzle onto sweets
Balsamic vinegar is surprisingly good with sweets because its acidity brings out the sweetness of desserts. Try it drizzled onto strawberries and freshly cracked black pepper, or as a garnish to poached peaches and cream.
Make a braise
When braising meats such as short ribs or pork shoulder, balsamic vinegar makes the braising liquid’s flavor more robust. After the meat is cooked, reduce the braising liquid and serve it with a creamy side, such as mashed potatoes or puréed fennel or celeriac.
Flavor a dipping sauce
For a tasty appetizer that will make you feel like you’re treating yourself to dinner at the restaurant, combine olive oil, balsamic vinegar, chopped parsley, minced garlic, and salt in a small dish. Serve with slices of crusty baguette.
Whisk into marinade
Balsamic vinegar is a great addition to meat marinades. We love marinating poultry in a mixture of rosemary, sage, garlic, shallots, and salt.
Make a cocktail
Balsamic vinegar adds acidity and light floral flavors a variety of cocktails and non-alcoholic drinks. We like it best paired with bourbon, rum, or lemonade.
Swirl into soup
Balsamic vinegar is an excellent addition to soups, stews, and sauces. Add a splash at the end of cooking a marina sauce, swirl into a favorite soup after lading it into bowls, or pour some into stew to enrich its flavor.
Reduce into a glaze
In a small saucepan over low heat, reduce the balsamic vinegar until it becomes thick and syrupy, then remove from heat and cool. Use this syrup to drizzle over roast vegetables (like brussels sprouts) or meat.