Balsamic vinegar is a traditional Italian vinegar made by reducing white sweet grapes to form a syrup. This sweet-sour liquid is commonly used in salad dressing, but many pregnant women are unsure it is safe to eat. It does contain a potentially harmful substance, but you would have to drink a large amount of it to harm the fetus. Otherwise, this vinegar is quite healthy. See your physician if you have concerns.
Balsamic vinegar contains trace amounts of lead. Because of this, you may be concerned about the risks to your fetus as lead poisoning may harm both you and the baby. California grocery stores are required to post signs that alert consumers that this condiment contains lead and that it may trigger fetal health problems; however, this is misleading in terms of the risks of balsamic vinegar. Balsamic vinegar contains very small amounts of lead, while only high levels of lead can trigger health problems. You are likely to consume more lead from tap water than balsamic vinegar.
May Induce Labor
According to an article on the "What To Expect" website, some women believe drinking balsamic vinegar induces labor in the later stages of pregnancy. No scientific evidence exists to confirm this use; however, the article's author takes the "can't hurt, might help" attitude toward this practice. Spicy foods also fall under this category, as does basil and oregano. Again, no research confirms that eating special foods can induce labor.
Serves As A Salt Substitute
The intense flavor of balsamic vinegar may serve as a salt substitute, which can positively influence your sodium intake. Balsamic vinegar is not sodium-free, but it is low in sodium, with 4 mg per 1-tbsp. serving. Women's bodies naturally swell during pregnancy because of the extra fluids they produce, but you can reduce excess swelling by limiting your sodium intake. The American Heart Association recommends a salt intake of 1,500 mg or less per day for most people, including pregnant women. In addition to triggering edema, salt can lead to high blood pressure, which can be dangerous for pregnant women.
Supplements Iron Intake
Pregnant women need more iron during pregnancy -- 27 mg daily compared to the 18 mg women need when they are not pregnant. The extra iron helps your body make red blood cells for the higher volume of blood. Balsamic vinegar contains 0.12 mg of iron per 1 tbsp. serving. While this is not a large quantity, it does contribute to your daily needs during pregnancy.
- What's Cooking America: Balsamic Vinegar
- March of Dimes; Environmental Risks and Pregnancy; April 2011
- Dr. Gourmet; Does Balsamic Vinegar Contain Lead?; T.S. Harlan, M.D.
- What To Expect: Foods That Induce Labor
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Vinegar, Balsamic
- American Pregnancy Association; Swelling During Pregnancy; March 2007