Balsamic vinegar has been a staple ingredient in Mediterranean cuisine for centuries, known for its rich, tangy flavor and versatility in a wide range of dishes and salad dressings.
With the increasing popularity of the ketogenic diet to improve one's health and blood sugar regulation, many people are wondering whether balsamic vinegar is keto friendly.
So is balsamic vinegar keto friendly?
Yes it is, but it depends on the brand and the amount you use.
Traditional balsamic vinegar is relatively low in calories and carbs. One tablespoon of balsamic vinegar contains around 14 calories and 3 grams of net carbs. While this may seem like a small amount, it can add up quickly if you're using balsamic vinegar frequently. Traditional balsamic vinaigrette recipes call for a ¼ cup, which equals 12 grams of carbs.
The main concern with balsamic vinegar is its high sugar content. Because it is made from grapes, balsamic vinegar contains natural sugar, which will contribute to your daily net carbs on a keto diet.
The amount of sugar varies from brand to brand, with some having over 10 grams of sugar in one tablespoon. So when purchasing a bottle, be careful to read the label on the back to see if the brand you chose has added sugars.
If you are looking for a quick and easy dipping sauce to go along with our instant pot artichokes. Mix together, two tablespoons of mayonnaise with a few dashes of balsamic vinegar.
How is Balsamic Vinegar made?
Balsamic vinegar is made from grape must, which is the juice of freshly harvested trebbiano and lambrusco grapes with all the skins, seeds and stems.
Traditional balsamic vinegar is aged in wooden barrels for at least 12 years (up to 25) and can be quite expensive, while commercial balsamic vinegar is usually aged for a shorter period of time and may contain additives like sugar, caramel, concentrated grape juice or thickeners.
Longer aged balsamic vinegars have a deep and intense flavor profile.
Brands of low-sugar Balsamic Vinegar to purchase
Fortunately, many grocery stores and online marketplaces stock keto friendly balsamic vinegar. These bottles have much less additives, resulting in a lower sugar content such as 2 to 4 grams of sugar per tablespoon.
Health benefits of Balsamic Vinegar
Balsamic vinegar contains antioxidants, acetic acid and antomicrobial compounds. These can help improve skin health, promote digestive health, lower cholesterol and aid in weight loss.
Because it is made from grapes, it also contains polyphenols which can help manage blood pressure while promoting good circulation.
Research shows that regular balsamic vinegar consumption can help reduce inflammation and improve cardiovascular health. It is a great source of :
One tablespoon contains 14 calories, 3 grams of carbohydrates and 0 grams of fat. As mentioned above, the sugar content varies from brand to brand.
Different types of Balsamic Vinegar
Modena PGI - Is imported from the Modena region of Italy, as this is the traditional region where Balsamic Vinegar has been historically produced and is a sure sign of good quality.
PGI stands for Protected Geographic Indication, which is a certification that guarantees quality. It is made only from fresh grape must and is the perfect choice when making a balsamic vinaigrette dressing.
Modern commercial balsamic vinegar - Most Balsamic Vinegar you find at your local grocery store are commercially made. They combine concentrated grapes with wine vinegar to speed up the fermentation process. It taste fine, but is not the gold standard.
White balsamic vinegar - It is made from the same grape must as regular Balsamic Vinegar, except that it is boiled at a low enough temperature so that the sugars in the grape do not caramelize and give that deep, dark color.
Balsamic glaze - Is Balsamic Vinegar that has been reduced by a continuation of the boiling process, until it is thickened to a maple syrup like consistency. It has a very strong sweet and tangy taste, so a little goes a long way.
Keto friendly alternatives to Balsamic Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar - is great when on a ketogenic diet as one tablespoon contains almost 0 carbs and 0.1 gram of sugar.
The health benefits of ACV - lowering blood sugar levels, aiding in weight loss and improving heart health - are a definite plus. Like mentioned above, always read the nutritional label on the brand you purchase. We love Bragg USDA Gluten Free Organic Raw Apple Cider Vinegar with Mother and use it in our keto salad dressing recipe and Keto BBQ sauce.
White vinegar - has zero carbs, no added sugar or artificial sweeteners. It has a very sour taste. White vinegar is best used for pickling or fermenting vegetables and making condiments. It is also great for cleaning and killing weeds in your garden.
White wine vinegar - Instead of the grain alcohol used to make white vinegar, white wine is used for this vinegar. The taste is much smoother and less acidic.
It has less than 1 net carb, making it perfect to use when on a keto diet. It is best used in salad dressings and for making condiments.
Red Wine Vinegar - This vinegar is also made from wine. The taste is sharper and has a fuller body when compared to the white wine vinegar. Also works well with a keto diet.
We use it on our homemade mayonnaise and for pickling onions as it gives such a great color. Its great in a salad dressing. Also less than 1 net carb.
Rice vinegar - as the name suggest, this vinegar is made by fermenting rice wine. It is very popular in Asian cuisine. The taste is sweet and mild, with much less acid than other vinegars.
Frequently asked questions?
How many net carbs in Balsamic Vinegar?
A no sugar added brand of Balsamic Vinegar will have 3 grams of net carbs per 1 tablespoon serving.
If the brand you use has sugar added, the net carbs will be higher and will not work on a keto diet.
Can Balsamic Vinegar go bad?
Balsamic Vinegar will stay good for 3 to 5 years after opening. Store it in a cool, dark place at room temperature. There is no need to refrigerate after opening.
What does Balsamic Vinegar taste like?
Balsamic Vinegar is sweet and sour, tangy and sharp, almost molasses like. It is a complex flavor, that should be added sparingly to recipes so as not to over power.
We love to drizzle it over sliced tomatoes or make a balsamic butter sauce for steaks and roasted vegetables.
Can you mix olive oil and balsamic vinegar in a bottle?
Most definitely, as this is the easiest and quickest way to make a balsamic dressing for your salad.
In a two to one ratio, pour 2 parts olive oil and 1 part balsamic vinegar into a mason jar. Seal the lid tightly and then shake vigorously until combined.
Is Apple Cider Vinegar the same as Balsamic Vinegar?
No they are not. Apple Cider Vinegar is made from a two step fermentation process to convert apple juice into vinegar.
Balsamic Vinegar is made by boiling down grape must, which is then fermented and slow aged in wood barrels.
Is Balsamic Vinegar Vegan?
Yes, balsamic vinegar is made from grapes and does not contain any animal products.
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Sugar Free Salad Dressing
- Add all the ingredients to a jar.
- Add the lid and secure, and shake to combine.
- Serve over your favorite salad.
- Store In the refrigerator for up to a week.
- You can add freshly chopped herbs, such as basil, thyme, parsley, oregano, dill, cilantro, mint, or chives to add additional flavor.