Balsamic vinegar is a flavorful condiment produced with crushed grapes, skin, seeds and stems. Like most vinegar, it is relatively healthy. There is very little or no sodium or sugar in balsamic vinegar, but it depends on how it is used. Fruit vinegar also has many potential health benefits.
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Balsamic vinegar is low in both sodium and calories and offers additional health benefits as a source of antioxidants. However, alternative varieties may contain high levels of sugar.
Nutritional Values of Balsamic Vinegar
As explained by the University of Kentucky, balsamic vinegar is available in three different forms — traditional, commercial and condiment. Traditional balsamic vinegar is actually an expensive grade produced only in two regions of Italy.
Commercial and condiment forms of balsamic vinegar are more readily available and affordable. Balsamic vinegar is commonly used in salad dressings or sauces and is frequently eaten with roasted vegetables, meats and even fruit.
According to the USDA, balsamic vinegar made with grape wine vinegar and concentrated grapes provides 10 calories per tablespoon. It's suitable for a low sodium diet, providing 0 milligrams per tablespoon.
Balsamic vinegar has 2 grams of carbohydrates per tablespoon and is fat free, although it doesn't provide any protein.
Some balsamic vinegar preparations have added fruit preparations, which changes their nutritional content slightly — mainly increasing the calories and sugar content.
One tablespoon of balsamic vinegar with natural raspberry flavor contains 15 calories, 3 grams of carbohydrates and 3 grams of total sugar.
One tablespoon of balsamic vinegar with fresh blackberries and vanilla contains 18 calories, 0.02 grams of protein, 5 grams of carbohydrates and 4 grams of sugar.
Read more: Bad Effects of Vinegar
Possible Health Benefits
According to Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, vinegar has been used for medicinal purposes since ancient times. However, more research is needed in this area. Speak to your doctor before using balsamic or other vinegars as a dietary supplement.
Vinegar has been reported to help with digestion and treat coughs, and was used as an antibacterial salve for wounds — mainly because of its acid content.
Other historical records indicate that vinegar was used to treat stomachache, laryngitis, fever, swelling and even rash caused by poison ivy, according to a research review published in September 2016 by Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety.
Vinegar has antibacterial and anti-infection qualities, as discussed in the literature review. Soaking vegetables in fruit vinegar has been shown to kill bacteria, while irrigating the ear canal with diluted vinegar has also been shown to decrease inflammation.
Some research suggests that fruit vinegar can help regulate blood sugar levels by improving insulin sensitivity in patients with type 2 diabetes when consumed after meals or before bedtime.
Results of animal research suggest that regular consumption of fruit vinegar could lower blood cholesterol and triglycerides. It is also hypothesized that fruit vinegar could aid in weight loss efforts, but more research is needed to verify these claims.
Fruit vinegar contains large amounts of antioxidants. These substances protect your cells from damage from free radicals, as explained by the Mayo Clinic. Free radicals are thought to play a role in the development of diseases such as cancer and heart conditions.
Read more: Is White Vinegar Good for Health?
- Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety: "Vinegar Functions on Health: Constituents, Sources, and Formation Mechanisms"
- Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: "Vinegar"
- University of Kentucky: "Savor the Flavor: Cooking with Oils and Vinegars"
- USDA FoodData Central: "Balsamic Vinegar"
- USDA FoodData Central: "Balsamic Vinegar - Grape Must"
- USDA FoodData Central:"Balsamic Vinegar Blackberries and Vanilla"
- Mayo Clinic: "Antioxidants"