The intense flavor and fancy bottles of balsamic vinegar might just whisk you away to a serene Italian peninsula. Balsamic vinegar is popular worldwide, not just among Italians or the creative culinary types. Is balsamic vinegar a suitable keto dressing or marinade?
What is Balsamic Vinegar?
Balsamic vinegar is a dark, concentrated vinegar originating in Italy. Balsamic vinegar is a thick, syrupy liquid that’s rich, glossy, and deep brown in color. The sweet and sour complex flavor profile makes a delicious salad dressing or marinade.
Balsamic vinegar is derived either wholly or partially from grape must — freshly crushed grape juice with all seeds, stems, and skins. Different types of balsamic vinegar are made in slightly different ways.
Traditionally, artisan farmers have carefully made balsamic vinegar in the beautiful vineyards of Modena, Italy. This type of balsamic vinegar is made from reduced grape must and aged for several years in a series of wooden barrels. The flavor intensifies with time as the vinegar is stored in various wooden casks.
In some cases, the vinegar has been aged for 25 years or longer and can get expensive. Some of the traditional vinegar and the processes for making them are protected by the European Union’s Protected Designation of Origin.
Most modern and commercial types of balsamic vinegar involve grape must be blended with wine vinegar .
Is Balsamic Vinegar Keto?
Most balsamic vinegar are keto-friendly, such as this commercial, sugar-free balsamic vinegar. Depending on the balsamic vinegar brand, one tablespoon typically contains between 2 and 6 grams of net carbs, with some as low as 1 net gram and some as high as 10 grams. This means that some brands of balsamic vinegar are more keto-friendly than others. If you’re unsure, always check the ingredients and the carb count and watch out for sneaky added sugars .
The carbs in balsamic vinegar are from the grapes, similar to wine. Much of the sugar from the grapes is lost during the fermentation process. Be wary of balsamic vinegar with added coloring, caramel, sugars, and other artificial additives that might not be healthy or keto-friendly.
Balsamic vinegar complements many keto dishes, such as these low-carb roasted veggies or this keto summer Caprese salad. It makes a tasty addition to bacon, and Brussel sprouts or drizzled on a berry and cheese platter.
You could try a keto-approved brand of vinaigrette like Primal Kitchen or try making your own balsamic vinaigrette, which is also especially low in carbs. Mix an oil like olive oil with balsamic vinegar and your choice of herbs and spices and salt and pepper to taste. One tablespoon of balsamic vinaigrette usually only contains around 1-2 grams of net carbs.
Antioxidant-rich balsamic vinegar also has some health benefits and might help with cholesterol levels. This tasty vinegar also contains acetic acid and strains of probiotic bacteria that don’t just preserve food; they can also improve digestion and the health of your digestive system [3,4,5].
Other keto-friendly vinegars include apple cider vinegar, white vinegar, and white wine vinegar.
Do You Like Balsamic Vinegar on Keto?
Share your favorite ways to include balsamic vinegar. What’s your top zesty salad dressing starring balsamic vinegar?
1. Masino, F., Chinnici, F., Bendini, A., Montevecchi, G., & Antonelli, A. (2008). A study on relationships among chemical, physical, and qualitative assessment in traditional balsamic vinegar. Food chemistry, 106(1), 90-95. DOI: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2007.05.069
2. Self Nutrition Data. Vinegar, Balsamic. https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/spices-and-herbs/9744/2
3. Iizuka, M., Tani, M., Kishimoto, Y., Saita, E., Toyozaki, M., & Kondo, K. (2010). Inhibitory effects of balsamic vinegar on LDL oxidation and lipid accumulation in THP-1 macrophages. Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology, 56(6), https://doi.org/10.3177/jnsv.56.421
4. Setorki, M., Asgary, S., Eidi, A., Rohani, A. H., & Khazeei, M. (2010). Acute effects of vinegar intake on some biochemical risk factors of atherosclerosis in hypercholesterolemic rabbits. Lipids in Health and Disease. DOI: 10.1186/1476-511X-9-10
5. Ho, C. W., Lazim, A. M., Fazry, S., Zaki, U. K. H. H., & Lim, S. J. (2017). Varieties, production, compoisition, and health benefits of vinegars: A review. Food Chemistry, DOI: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2016.10.128
Steph Green is a writer, researcher, and singer/songwriter with a passion for all things wellness. In 2016, after four years of struggling with her own health problems and painful autoimmune disease, Steph developed a life-changing and extensive knowledge of keto, nutrition, and natural medicine. She continues on her healing journey and enjoys helping others along the way.