Made from grapes, balsamic vinegar is known for its rich flavor and velvety black color. It's fermented in wooden barrels, much like wine, and the taste of balsamic vinegar intensifies the longer it is aged. The thicker and more intense the flavor becomes, the less you need to use to provide a taste boost. Balsamic vinegar offers a number of health benefits, though the serving size is small.
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Low in Calories
With balsamic vinegar, a little goes a long way. Use 1 tablespoon or less when adding balsamic vinegar to salad dressings, sauces or even soups. A 1-tablespoon serving of balsamic vinegar has only 14 calories. The same size serving also contains a negligible amount of fat and less than 3 grams each of carbohydrates, including sugar. To keep your salads low-fat and low in calories, consider dressing your vegetables with only balsamic vinegar. You get the flavor punch with less fat and calories than if you used an oil-based salad dressing.
Normalizes Blood Pressure
According to a study published in “Medscape General Medicine” in 2006, researchers found that balsamic vinegar reduced the hardening of arteries, also known as atherosclerosis. Because of this, balsamic vinegar also lowers and stabilizes blood pressure levels. Researchers in the study found that those who regularly consumed vinegar exhibited lower systolic blood pressure levels. However, further study on humans is required, as this study was animal-based.
Stabilizes Cholesterol Levels
Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol causes hardened, clogged and blocked arteries. In a 2010 study published in the “Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology,” researchers found that the polyphenols in balsamic vinegar limited the ability of LDL cholesterol to oxidize. This reduced the amount of damage done by LDL cholesterol on your body’s cells.
Keeps Your Blood Glucose Levels Steady
Foods are categorized as low or high on the glycemic index, based on how drastic an effect they have on your blood sugar levels. Foods low on the glycemic index will not cause spikes in your blood glucose levels, limiting the likelihood that you will experience an energy rush and crash, such as what you might experience from eating large quantities of refined sugar or starches. Balsamic vinegar is low on the glycemic index. Still, a 1-tablespoon serving contains 2.4 grams of sugars, so if you are diabetic, pay close attention to the amount you consume.
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Vinegar, Balsamic
- Medscape General Medicine: Vinegar -- Medicinal Uses and Antiglycemic Effect
- Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology: Inhibitory Effects of Balsamic Vinegar on LDL Oxidation and Lipid Accumulation in THP-1 Macrophages
- Choose Your Food; Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics