Balsamic vinegar is a popular ingredient in salad dressings, marinades, and many other foods. It is has a distinctive flavor that is often described as bold, tart, and complex.
Some studies suggest that balsamic vinegar has additional health benefits, ranging from improving a person's complexion to lowering cholesterol and aiding weight loss.
In this article, we look at the potential health benefits of balsamic vinegar and the scientific research that may give them weight.
The health benefits of balsamic vinegar may include the following:
1. Improving skin health
Balsamic vinegar contains antimicrobial compounds, acetic acid, and antioxidants. These components may help improve a person's complexion over time.
Other clear vinegars have been topically applied to the skin to help clear up acne. Balsamic vinegar can cause stains, however, so should not be applied directly to the skin.
2. Reducing blood sugar
Balsamic vinegar helps regulate blood sugar when eaten as part of a meal.
One review that examined the scientific effects of vinegar found that balsamic vinegar has an antiglycemic impact when consumed, meaning a person's blood sugar will spike less drastically after a meal.
The review indicated that vinegar could help create a blood sugar plateau for a period of up to 5 hours following a meal.
3. Promoting healthy digestion
Acetic acid is the active compound in balsamic vinegar. This acid contains strains of probiotics that aid digestion.
The probiotics found in acetic acid can help promote good gut health and digestion while supporting overall immune function.
4. Lowering cholesterol
Balsamic vinegar may help lower cholesterol. The antioxidants in balsamic vinegar help block toxic cells in the body that can raise cholesterol levels.
According to one study, involving rabbits with high cholesterol, it is possible that consuming balsamic vinegar can help lower or maintain already low cholesterol levels.
5. Losing weight
The probiotics in balsamic vinegar can also help make a person feel full for longer.
6. Treating wounds
Balsamic vinegar has been used for many years to help treat wounds. It is suggested that balsamic vinegar has antifungal, antiviral, and antibacterial properties. These claims have not been well studied, however.
7. Reducing hypertension
One study, although again involving rats, determined that balsamic vinegar may help lower blood pressure. This research suggested that regularly adding balsamic vinegar to foods could help reduce high blood pressure over time.
This may be true if a person replaces fatty foods, such as butter and oil, with vinegar, thus lowering the total amount of fats they consume.
8. Relieving congestion
Some people use balsamic vinegar to help treat congestion. To do this, a person can add a few drops of vinegar to steaming water and breathe in the vapor.
9. Reducing acid reflux
This remedy may not work for everyone, so it is a good idea to try it in small amounts and wait several hours to see whether it makes symptoms better or worse.
10. Promoting blood circulation
Balsamic vinegar is derived from grapes. Studies have found that grapes may help prevent cardiac disease by preventing platelets from building up in blood vessels.
Balsamic vinegar also contains polyphenols. Researchers are exploring how polyphenols aid in blood circulation, but the evidence is inconclusive so far.
There are few risks to using balsamic vinegar, as it is generally safe to consume unless a person has an allergy. Possible risks include:
- upset stomach from consuming too much
- inflammation of the throat
- damage to the food pipe from drinking too much
A person should limit their intake to about 2 tablespoons or less, as drinking too much can cause an upset stomach and other issues.
People should pay careful attention to the label of the balsamic vinegar they buy. Genuine balsamic may be expensive but does not contain added sugars. Other brands may contain additional sugars to help match the taste of genuine balsamic vinegar.
Balsamic vinegar is usually safe to add to foods. It contains very few calories, is low in sugar, and is fat-free.
In addition, there are several potential health benefits associated with balsamic vinegar. Though more research is still needed to understand these benefits, a person can feel good about making balsamic vinegar a part of a healthful diet.
People can find balsamic vinegar in most grocery stores or health food stores, as well as online.