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.
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.
According to studies, balsamic vinegar is a source of calcium, iron, manganese and potassium, which improve the body's functioning and weight loss abilities. Low in calories, it also helps to curb the body's appetite and prevents overeating, increasing the amount of time it takes for the stomach to empty.
Helps Blood Circulation
The antioxidants present in balsamic vinegar can help repair damage caused by free radicals, which are produced by the oxygen used in our body. Balsamic vinegar contains polyphenols, antioxidants that can protect the body from heart disease and cancer.
The grapes that are used to make balsamic vinegar contain antioxidants that fight against cell damage, improve the body's immune system and make blood platelets more flexible.
Balsamic vinegar is great for the body's digestion. It boosts the activity of pepsin, an enzyme that breaks protein down into smaller amino acids so it can be easily absorbed by the body. Pepsin also helps to improve the body's metabolism.
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. Consequently, balsamic vinegar also lowers and stabilizes blood pressure levels.
Stabilizes Cholesterol Levels
Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) 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. However, a 1-tablespoon serving contains 2.4 grams of sugars, so if you are diabetic pay close attention to the amount you consume.
A study at Arizona State University found that balsamic and other types of vinegar may help reduce the risk of developing adult-onset diabetes. According to the study, vinegar helps to balance blood sugar levels. This improves the ability of the hormone insulin to transport sugar into the cells where it can be burned for energy. Individuals with diabetes may find that drinking balsamic vinegar as a tonic, in addition to their prescribed treatment, helps to better control blood sugar levels.
Although vinegar is acidic, it has an alkalizing effect in the body. Drinking about two tablespoons of balsamic vinegar may help relieve occasional heartburn or acid indigestion. Other uses for balsamic vinegar include easing chest congestion with a hot water and vinegar steam inhalation. It may also help relieve minor sore throat by gargling with hot water and honey.
Natural Pain Reliever
In ancient times, folk healers used this vinegar to relieve people of their body pain. Moreover, they used balsamic vinegar to treat wounds and infections. The anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties in the vinegar healed wounds.
The grapes from which balsamic vinegar is formed is known to contain a bioflavonoid called quercetin, which has antioxidant properties. Balsamic vinegar also contains polyphenols which are anticancer agents.
Besides the previously mentioned health benefits, balsamic vinegar also reduces the frequency of headache inceptions, strengthens bones (calcium absorption), energizes the body, slows down aging process and prevents anemia. Authentic balsamic vinegar would have been aged for a minimum period of 12 years to a maximum period of 100 years. The longer the aging process, the finer the vinegar quality.