Whether trending as a glow-up or tub scrub, vinegar has been making a comeback. But what makes balsamic vinegar’s health benefits so great like its and distilled white vinegar cousins?
Balsamic vinegar boasts health benefits that might help:
- cholesterol levels
- weight loss
- blood sugar and blood circulation
- acid reflux
Made from unfermented grape juice, balsamic vinegar is often aged in barrels for months or even years. It has a deep, dark hue and a distinct, bold, tart taste. It’s perfect for salad dressings, marinades, and glazes. But it’s so much more than that.
Let’s dive into what balsamic vinegar might do for your health.
1. Help your skin
You’ve probably heard about using ACV on your face for acne and dull skin. Like ACV, balsamic vinegar also contains antioxidants, and acetic acid, which has antimicrobial properties that might clear up your skin.
One small study found topical acetic acid helped acne, but this wasn’t from ingesting or applying balsamic vinegar.
We need more research to know just how balsamic vinegar can help your skin. But for now it’s best not to apply it topically and instead to see what it can do for your skin from just plain ingesting it.
A warning: Using any type on vinegar on your skin can lead to a chemical burn over time so always do a patch test and use it sparingly.
2. Lower cholesterol levels
Got high cholesterol? Balsamic vinegar might help.
Lab research found that the antioxidants in balsamic vinegar prevents the oxidation of LDL cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol), which can lead to heart disease.
Animal studies also show this may help protect against clogged arteries and heart disease. But more people research is needed to know for sure.
3. Keep your gut happy
Balsamic vinegar might help promote gut health. How? Two words: acetic acid. Acetic acid, the main active ingredient in balsamic vinegar, contains strands of probiotic bacteria that supports digestion.
Bonus: Probiotics might also benefit your immune system!
4. Weight loss
Some older research suggests that incorporating regular vinegar into breakfast will help you eat fewer calories during the rest of the day, thus supporting weight loss efforts. A lab study also found acetic acid in vinegar had fat-lowering characteristics in mice.
So while balsamic vinegar won’t melt excess fat overnight, it might be a helpful tool for a healthy weight loss journey, if that’s your goal.
5. Lower blood sugar
Adding balsamic vinegar to your meals might help folks with diabetes and insulin resistance.
A 2010 study found vinegar has anti-glycemic properties, meaning it helps lower post-meal blood sugar spikes.
In a 2006 review that examined the effects of vinegar, researchers also found that adding vinegar to a high carb meal could improve post-meal insulin sensitivity and mealtime blood sugar. But it was more effective for peeps with insulin sensitivity than those with type 2 diabetes.
A more recent review also only found a very small reduction in blood sugar levels in those with type 2 diabetes who took vinegar for 8 to 12 weeks.
6. Boost your circulation
Balsamic vinegar is made from grapes, which in lab studies have been found to prevent blood clotting. Basically, that could mean good things for proper circulation.
Balsamic vinegar also contains polyphenols — plant compounds that act as heart-healthy antioxidants. Researchers are currently still studying just how this could affect circulation and long-term heart health.
7. Dial down on blood pressure
Balsamic vinegar might also help with high blood pressure.
In an animal study, rats with hypertension experienced lower blood pressure by regularly consuming rice vinegar. While not balsamic vinegar, the research suggests the acidic acid is mainly to thank for this effect which is a big part of balsamic.
Although we need more human studies, adding balsamic vinegar to foods might help reduce high blood pressure over time.
8. Fight acid reflux
Some folks report that balsamic vinegar reduces heartburn and acid reflux, but this info is pretty much anecdotal. The idea behind this is that the vinegar helps rebalance your stomach pH.
If you want to give this remedy a try, start with a small amount of diluted vinegar. Then wait a few hours to see if it helps (or exacerbates) your symptoms.
9. Ease congestion
Feeling stuffed up? Some people swear by balsamic vinegar as a more natural decongestant.
Although no major studies yet support this, steaming vinegar might help loosen up phlegm in your throat and chest. Just add a few drops of balsamic vinegar into hot water (not boiling!), put your face over the steam (careful!), and breathe in the vapor. Ahhhhh….
Balsamic vinegar is generally pretty safe unless you’re allergic to it, but there *are* fewer risks if you consume too much:
- sore throat
- damage to your esophagus
- weakened tooth enamel (if undiluted)
- upset stomach or damage to your stomach lining
Poison Control also states you shouldn’t use any type of vinegar to treat wounds. This is because it’s not great at stopping bacteria growth in infections and it can cause burns over time.
It’s also a good idea to consider the quality and amount of balsamic vinegar.
- Quality. Pay attention to your product label. Search for pure balsamic vinegar without added sugars. Genuine balsamic is pricy but oh-so-worth it.
- Amount. Limit yourself to no more than 2 tablespoons per serving. Vinegar is pretty acidic, after all! Stop eating it if you notice any burning or pain in your throat or stomach.
Balsamic vinegar is any easy way to add a delicious, nutritious boost to your meals. Pick up a bottle at your favorite grocery or health food store, then experiment with using it in marinades, glazes, or vinaigrette dressings.
Really, the possibilities are endless. Here are a few of our favorite balsamic vinegar noms:
Enjoy vitamin C, vitamin K, and those sweet vinegar antioxidants packed into one tasty antipasto dish.
- 8 ounces fresh mozzarella
- 2–3 heirloom tomatoes
- 2–3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 2–3 tablespoons olive oil
- Fresh basil leaves
- Slice the tomatoes and mozzarella. Layer them out with the edges overlapping (in a nice tomato-mozz-tomato-mozz pattern!).
- Top with basil.
- Drizzle balsamic vinegar and olive oil on top. Sprinkle on some salt if you wish. 🍅
Balsamic vinegar is key to authentic bruschetta.
- 8 tomatoes
- 1/3 cup fresh basil
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
- 1–2 cloves of garlic
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Fresh baguette (“oui” recommend the French variety!)
- Dice your tomatoes, chop that basil, shred the Parm, and mince the garlic. Toss together in a bowl.
- Now mix up the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Add to the chopped veg and cheese. Let this mixture sit in the fridge for at least an hour to meld the flavors.
- When you’re ready, slice and toast the bread.
- Top each slice with a generous helping of bruschetta mix. Yay for yummy, bite-sized treats! 🥖
Pro tip: Avoid soggy cheese by using the Parmesan on top of each piece of bruschetta-ed bread instead of adding it into your mixture.
A balsamic glaze gives simple chicken, meat, tofu, or veggie dishes an elegant twist.
- 16 ounces balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- In a saucepan, mix all ingredients on medium heat. Allow the mixture to boil (stirring occasionally) until you get a syrupy consistency.
- Then let it cool and glaze your *insert food of choice.* Bon appetit! 🍗🍲🍴
Reminder: Store leftover glaze in an airtight container in the fridge. This keeps it fresh.
Delicious and nutritious, balsamic vinegar is:
- fat free
- low calorie
- low in natural sugar
- brimming with antioxidants
It has major health benefits, including the potential to lower cholesterol, aid weight loss, and promote healthy digestion. Incorporate 1 to 2 tablespoons per day to maximize the benefits without overdoing it on the acid.