Last Updated on December 19, 2020 by Chris Whitehair
Delicious…and Healthy? Yes!
Imagine yourself on vacation in Tuscany, enjoying vineyard views while eating a fresh plate of grilled vegetables drizzled with balsamic vinaigrette. In Italy, balsamic vinegar is revered for its complex flavor profile and traditional uses — but is balsamic vinegar good for you?
Genuine balsamic vinegar can only be produced in Modena, Italy and the nearby town of Reggio Emelia. It is made from “grape must”, fresh grape juice that is concentrated, fermented, and aged in barrels for 10 years or longer. The older it gets, the sweeter, darker, and thicker it becomes.
Real Balsamic Vinegar of Modena and Reggio Emelia always comes stamped with a seal of authenticity, but other regions are allowed to produce similar products without the label.
There are many stories floating around about the surprising health benefits of balsamic vinegar, and it can be hard to separate fact from fiction. Will this tangy, syrupy liquid actually give you clear skin and help you shed pounds? Can it prevent heart attacks?
We did some investigating, and it turns out there is scientific evidence to support many of the claims related to balsamic vinegar benefits.
How is balsamic vinegar good for you? Read on for a list of ways adding a splash more of it to your diet can help you thrive.
You’ll Enjoy Easier Digestion
Balsamic vinegar can aid digestion for two main reasons. First, as we age, our stomachs produce less acid. This makes it more difficult to digest food, and especially proteins.
The acetic acid in balsamic vinegar can supplement natural stomach acid, boosting our digestive capabilities. It also stimulates the production of pepsin, a stomach enzyme that breaks down proteins. Balsamic vinegar has a slightly higher acidity than apple cider vinegar and distilled white vinegar.
Second, the acetic acid contains probiotic bacteria. Probiotics support gut health by adding healthy flora to the digestive tract. Basically, these flora exist to help food move smoothly through your digestive system. The more you add to their population, the happier your intestines will be.
Did you know that Italians sometimes consume aged balsamic as an after-dinner drink, also known as a “digestif”? As the name suggests, it can calm the stomach and speed digestion after a rich celebratory meal.
You Might Shed Pounds
It’s not a miracle weight loss product, but balsamic vinegar could help you slim down if you use it properly. It’s fat-free, and with only 5 calories per tablespoon, it provides a burst of flavor that you might otherwise seek from ingredients like butter and oil.
Try adding it to your salad along with some salt and pepper, instead of going for fattening store-bought dressings. The natural sweetness of balsamic means it doesn’t need to be mixed with olive oil to taste good.
Surprisingly, balsamic vinegar can be spooned over vanilla ice cream as an alternative to chocolate fudge or other sugary toppings.
The same healthy probiotics that support digestion can also make you feel fuller for longer, so you won’t have as many urges to snack throughout the day. If you’re bloated, probiotics relieve gas and have an immediate tummy flattening effect.
Your Skin Will Glow
Natural, glowing skin is all the rage. Heavy makeup is being replaced by complicated skincare routines with the goal of looking young and radiant. In the first quarter of 2019, shoppers spent $1.4 billion on skincare products.
If you’d rather not spend thousands of dollars on fancy skin serums, eating balsamic vinegar regularly could help you achieve healthier looking skin. It is full of antioxidants that fight free radicals in the body and prevent or delay cell damage. The process results in your skin cells staying healthy for longer than they would otherwise, which has an anti-aging effect.
The plant polyphenols found in balsamic vinegar can also repair DNA damage caused by sun exposure and are often used as an ingredient in luxury skincare products.
You’ll Eat More Veggies
Balsamic vinegar is a good source of calcium, phosphorus, potassium, and magnesium on its own, but it might also inspire you to eat bigger servings of healthy foods more often. It is delicious paired with leafy greens, chicken, fish, vegetables, and even fruit.
A Caprese salad with tomatoes, basil, and fresh mozzarella topped with balsamic is a Mediterranean classic. In Italy, chefs add balsamic vinegar to strawberries, oranges, apples, or pears to create healthy desserts.
There are so many creative ways to cook with balsamic vinegar. You’ll have fun getting inspired, testing new recipes, and enjoying the tasty results.
Balsamic Vinegar Is a Cold Remedy
The runny nose and sniffles that come with cold season are no fun. It can be difficult to breathe and rough tissues take a toll on sensitive skin. Luckily, balsamic vinegar can help. Adding a few drops to a soothing steam inhalation can clear up congestion in no time.
It’s also possible to create a gargling tincture made up of warm water, balsamic vinegar, and a spoonful of honey. You can sip the same mixture to calm an irritated, sore throat.
You’ll Avoid Blood Sugar Spikes
Balsamic vinegar may be beneficial for diabetics, although the American Diabetes Association warns that research on the topic is still limited.
Scientists have found that vinegar has antiglycemic effects, meaning it can counteract high blood glucose levels. In one study, vinegar lowered glucose by 20% when compared with the placebo. The treatment worked best when two tablespoons of vinegar were taken with a meal.
However, balsamic vinegar does contain a small amount of sugar that can add up. If too much is consumed at once, its positive effects will be thwarted.
Balsamic vinegar’s effects on insulin production are beneficial for non-diabetics as well because acetic acid reduces the amount of carbohydrates the body absorbs. The resulting low blood sugar may be linked to health benefits such as weight loss, reduced inflammation, fewer stress hormones, and a lower risk of heart disease.
It Has Antimicrobial Properties
Although it may not be the best option if you have a full first aid kit available, Italians have been using balsamic vinegar to clean wounds for thousands of years. Modern science has proven that they could be on to something.
Researchers in the UK found that the acetic acid in vinegar can kill more than 24 kinds of infectious bacteria. A trial is being done to test the effectiveness of soaking bandages in a low concentration of acetic acid before they are applied to severe burns. Burns are difficult to treat with more traditional antibiotics because absorption is slow and antibiotic resistance is common.
The findings of the trial seem promising, but doctors do not recommend trying it at home, at least for now.
Balsamic vinegar also helps fight bacteria on raw greens and vegetables. Lettuce recalls due to E. coli are fairly common, and you can keep your kitchen safer by disinfecting your salad ingredients with vinegar. Out of all the vinegars tested, balsamic had the strongest antimicrobial effect. The longer the greens or veggies are exposed to the vinegar, the more effective the sterilizing effect will be.
Balsamic Vinegar Is Heart Healthy
The same antioxidants that keep your skin looking young and supple may help lower LDL cholesterol, the “bad” cholesterol that accumulates in your blood vessels. As this happens, it becomes harder for blood to flow through the body, and your blood pressure increases. Eventually, high blood pressure can lead to a heart attack or stroke. Antioxidants attack the scavenger cells that increase LDL by helping foam cells form.
Maintaining low blood pressure is always a good thing since it lessens the risk of many different diseases. If you keep your blood pressure at a normal level, you will be less likely to develop heart disease, kidney disease, and vascular dementia.
So, Is Balsamic Vinegar Good for You?
The answer to is balsamic vinegar good for you is a definitive yes.
Its medicinal properties can have positive impacts on your health from head to toe. Incorporating balsamic vinegar into your diet on a regular basis will leave you with luminous skin, a svelte figure, and a healthy heart. You’ll be less susceptible to food poisoning and you will be able to breathe deeply, even during cold season.
Mediterranean cultures are known for their healthy diets, and Italy is no exception. Italians are consistently ranked among the healthiest people in the world, so take a cue from them and add a splash of balsamic vinegar to every meal for flavor and longevity.
Check out our selection of gourmet balsamic vinegars to start your journey to a healthier lifestyle today.