Balsamic vinegar is pungent and tasty, which is why so many people like to use it to add flavor to their meals. It’s delicious in salad dressing and also goes very nicely with meats such as chicken, turkey, and some fatty fish.
Is balsamic vinegar keto? Balsamic vinegar is made with grapes, which contain high amounts of fruit sugar. This would seem to make it less than ideal for a keto diet. However, a little goes a long way, so it is possible to include balsamic vinegar in a keto diet regimen.
Balsamic vinegar has benefits beyond tasting good. It can help regulate the sugar balance in your body and inhibit cravings for sugar and sweets, so there are plenty of good reasons why keto followers might want to make room in their macros for balsamic vinegar.
The Basics of Balsamic Vinegar
Balsamic vinegar is a thick, dark, intense vinegar. It is highly concentrated and very flavorful. Balsamic vinegar is made, at least in part, from fresh grape must, which is juice made from the entire grape – skins, seeds, and all.
It is then reduced, fermented, and aged to achieve the distinctly tangy taste. Many products sold in the United States as “balsamic vinegar” are actually vinegar blends. This is fine, of course, as long as you know what you are getting.
The Benefits of Balsamic Vinegar
There are plenty of reasons why you may want to incorporate balsamic vinegar into your keto diet, even if it means having to make extra room in your macros.
- Balsamic vinegar has an antiglycemic effect that helps regulate blood sugar when it is consumed as part of a meal.
- The acetic acid in balsamic vinegar contains probiotics that promote good digestion and gut health.
- Balsamic vinegar can lower cholesterol and blood pressure.
- When eaten with a meal, balsamic vinegar can help people feel full for longer.
- The grapes and polyphenols in balsamic vinegar may improve blood circulation.
How Many Carbs Are in Balsamic Vinegar?
There are different kinds of balsamic vinegar on store shelves, and the carb content can vary significantly. Be sure to check the labels when you’re shopping or cooking to make sure that you don’t exceed your target carb count.
As a general rule, balsamic vinegars that are more aged are going to be sweeter and, therefore, heavier in sugar and carbs. Also keep in mind that many grocery-store balsamic vinegar products are diluted or enhanced with other ingredients, which may include added sugars.
A typical midrange balsamic vinegar has about 2 grams of carbs per tablespoon. Because balsamic vinegar is so intensely flavored, a tablespoon can actually be too much for many dishes, which means that you may only be adding 1 or 1.5 grams per meal.
What are the Alternatives for Balsamic Vinegar?
Balsamic vinegar is unique in its dark, tangy flavor profile. If you’re using it “straight,” there really isn’t any good substitute and you may as well just plan around the gram or two of sugar carbs that you’ll be adding to your meal.
But if you’re wanting it as an ingredient for a sauce or salad dressing, for instance, you can use apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar instead. The fermentation process of these vinegars “eats up” the sugars and the finished product has no carbs left.
White balsamic vinegar, if you can find it, has only 0.2 grams of sugar and carbohydrates per tablespoon. The flavor is less intense but the character is similar.
Is There Balsam in Balsamic Vinegar?
No. “Balsamic” comes from the Italian word balsamico, which is derived from the Latin balsamum and means restorative or curative. Balsamic vinegar was first created in Modena, Italy, nearly 1000 years ago and it was sold as a tonic.
Where Does Balsamic Vinegar Come From?
Genuine, traditional balsamic vinegar is made in either Modena or Reggio Emilia, both in Italy. The European Union label PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) shows that the balsamic vinegar was brewed in Modena.
Balsamic vinegar is very tightly regulated in its home country of Italy. Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena, the original balsamic vinegar, can only be legally sold in 100-milliliter bottles designed by the famous Italian automaker Giorgetto Giugiario.
Other countries can make balsamic vinegar too, of course, and there is even an American-made traditional-style balsamic vinegar out of New Mexico. It is Traditional Aceto Balsamico of Monticello.
How Aged Is Balsamic Vinegar?
Traditional Italian balsamic vinegars sold under EU regulations are actually not allowed to indicate the age on their labels, but there are ways to know how well aged your bottle is.
- Vecchio: aged 12 years (Modena)
- Extra Vecchio: aged 25 years (Modena)
- Bollino Aragosta (Red Lobster): aged 12 years (Reggio Emilia)
- Bollino Argento (Silver Seal): aged 12 to 25 years (Reggio Emilia)
- Bollino Oro Extravecchio (Gold Seal): aged 25 years (Reggio Emilia)