Balsamic Vinegar Health Benefits
Originated from Italy, this condiment is an aromatic, thick, dark, syrup-like aged type of vinegar, prepared by the reduction of cooked grapes. Balsamic vinegar, though popularly referred to as wine vinegar is not made from wine, but is prepared from grape pressings, whose fermentation process has been hindered. The best balsamic vinegar is prepared in the hills of Modena, in Italy, where unique and flavorful balsamic vinegar is formed. This vinegar is known to be a cut above the other types of vinegar. Unlike the sharp taste of vinegar, balsamic vinegar has a rich, sweet flavor. You need to taste it to believe it! The popularity surge of this dark, syrup-like condiment is not only because of its remarkable taste, but balsamic vinegar health benefits also play a major role in adding points to the popularity chart.
Balsamic vinegar retains most of the nutrients present in the parent grapes and comprises nutrients like iron, calcium, potassium, manganese, phosphorus and magnesium in adequate amounts. Thus, incorporating balsamic oil in the daily diet will benefit one immensely. Let us look at the different balsamic vinegar health benefits.
Balsamic vinegar is made of white Trebbiano grape juice. How does it get the dark, inky color?
Real Balsamic, it's all in the aging process. Balsamic vinegar is made from syrup (not wine) that comes from the juice of white grapes (typically Trebbiano). This syrup is then fermented and aged slowly in barrels so its flavors become sweet, viscous and concentrated. The oxidation, evaporation, aging and exposure to barrels also turns the color that wonderfully glossy dark brown, and gives it a rich, sweet, pungent flavor.
While balsamic ages (and gradually evaporates), the liquid is transferred to successively smaller casks, becoming more concentrated with each transfer. Sometimes a variety of wood barrels are used so the vinegar can absorb the different flavors. Oak, mulberry, chestnut, cherry, juniper, ash and acacia are the most common.
There are many quality levels of balsamic. The highest is labeled "tradizionale," and is very expensive, sold in tiny bottles and, because it's so concentrated, used in very small amounts (and a little bit goes a long way). The most inexpensive varieties may not be aged in wood at all, being nothing more than ordinary wine vinegar with caramel for coloring and sugar added to mimic the sweetness of better ones. Legally these are not allowed to be called "traditional" or "tradizionale," even if they still say "Aceto Balsamico di Modena".
Oxidation reactions taking place in the human body to produce energy, conduce to formation of cell damaging free radicals as natural by-products. Free radicals damage cell membranes and manifest themselves in terms of premature aging, hardening of arterial walls and cancer. Antioxidants from balsamic vinegar destroy these free radicals and prevent cells from being destroyed.
The grapes from which balsamic vinegar is formed is known to contain a bioflavonoid called quercetin, which has antioxidant properties. Along with vitamin C, this antioxidant strengthens the immune system to fight cancer and other infectious diseases and inflammations. Balsamic vinegar also contains polyphenols which are anticancer agents.
Reduces Risks of Heart Attacks
Balsamic vinegar is low in saturated fat and is believed to reduce cholesterol. Moreover, since it is low in sodium, it enhances heart health and reduces high blood pressure.
Research reveals that consumption of at least 5 teaspoons of balsamic vinegar a day enhances insulin sensitivity. The greater the insulin sensitivity, the better the diabetes control.
The polyphenols in balsamic vinegar stimulate the activity of pepsin enzyme in the body. Pepsin is a digestive enzyme, which helps break proteins into smaller units (amino acids). Moreover, these polyphenols also assist the intestine in absorbing amino acids expeditiously. Efficient amino acid absorption enables the body to utilize it for cell building, repair and other body maintenance work. Thus, balsamic vinegar aids the digestion process.