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Most of us on the ketogenic diet are curious about the number of carbs the foods we love to eat. This includes condiments and dressings like balsamic vinegar.
It’s one of the favored kinds of vinegar for salad dressings, which is why those who go heavy on the greens rave about it.
So, is balsamic vinegar keto-friendly?
Let’s look at the number of carbs in balsamic vinegar and the best balsamic vinegar for keto.
We also share some keto-friendly dressings which you should definitely not miss.
What is Balsamic Vinegar?
Balsamic vinegar is an Italian vinegar that dates back over 900 years.
It is dark, thick, and concentrated. This syrupy liquid has a glossy brown color that comes from whole or partial grape must.
Grape must is simply freshly crushed grape juice that includes all parts, including the seeds and stems.
Balsamic vinegar has many variations, but it is generally sweet and sour, and is mostly used as salad dressing or marinade.
Balsamic vinegar is originally made in the vineyards of Modena, Italy. They use reduced grape must which has been aged for several years in wooden barrels.
As it ages in the wooden casks, the flavor becomes more pronounced. In fact, some vinegars have been aged for 25 years or more, making them more expensive.
Some contemporary balsamic vinegar products involve a blend of grape must and wine vinegar.
Some of the traditional vinegars and their processing procedures are protected by the European Union’s Protected Designation of Origin.
Types of Balsamic Vinegar
Here are the different types of balsamic vinegar.
Traditional Balsamic Vinegar
Traditional balsamic vinegar comes in small batches that are aged for a minimum of 12 years in wood barrels.
It resembles wine and costs the same, around $50 to $200 for a small bottle.
Balsamic Vinegar of Modena PGI
Most balsamic vinegar products come from the Modena region of Italy. This is because the traditional balsamic is typically produced in the same province of Reggio.
PGI means Protected Geographical Indication, meaning it conforms to the European Union production and regulations.
Balsamic glaze is thicker and a syrup-like type of balsamic vinegar that involves sweeteners and thickeners.
White balsamic is just like regular balsamic vinegar, except it has a light golden color to it.
Balsamic Vinegar Nutrition and Ingredients
Most balsamic vinegar found in grocery stores only has two ingredients: cooked grape must and wine vinegar.
Both are considered safe and beneficial for consumption.
Here is the nutritional information of balsamic vinegar per 1 tbsp.:
- 0g fat
- 0 mg sodium
- 3g carbohydrates
- 3g net carbs
- 0g fiber
- 3g sugar
- 0g protein
Balsamic vinegar, at 10 calories per serving, also does not contain vitamins and minerals. In short, it offers very few nutrients and only serves as an additional flavor to your food.
Carbs in Balsamic Vinegar
The carbs in balsamic vinegar vary according to the brand. Usually, the carb count is between 2-6g of carbs per tablespoon.
For instance, Balsamic Vinegar of Modena from Trader Joe’s has 3g of carbs per tablespoon.
The higher the number of carbs per serving, the less keto-friendly it is.
Unlike other vinegars, the carbs in balsamic vinegar come from sugars, specifically boiled grapes with concentrated flavors. Some products even contain added honey.
It’s similar to wine, except a lot of sugar from the grapes is lost during fermentation.
Thankfully, commercial balsamic vinegar has fewer carbs and is much cheaper compared to traditional balsamic that is purer in nature.
The typical balsamic vinegar products you see in stores are a mix of concentrated grape must and wine vinegar, which speeds up the acidification process and removes some of the sugar content.
Health Benefits of Balsamic Vinegar
Some think that balsamic vinegar is good for you. That it can help with weight loss and low cholesterol levels.
Here are some evidence-based benefits of balsamic vinegar.
Reduces the Risk of Diabetes
Balsamic vinegar has a low glycemic index.
A 2006 review shows that people with insulin resistance experience a blood sugar plateau for almost five hours after consuming vinegar.
Using balsamic vinegar as a condiment makes your meal more suitable for diabetes. It also helps you avoid blood sugar spikes that can occur after eating.
Lower Cholesterol Levels
Balsamic vinegar is a great option for those who want to keep their cholesterol levels at bay. They do this by targeting the “scavenger cells” in the body.
The scavenger cells are toxic to the body and inflate your LDL, so the antioxidants found in balsamic vinegar can kill them.
Use balsamic vinegar as a dressing or glaze so that you can protect your body from clogged arteries.
Helps with Hypertension
Balsamic vinegar’s benefits for the heart are plenty! One of the most common concerns for some people is hypertension.
A 2001 laboratory study shows that rats with hypertension experienced better blood pressure after consuming vinegar over a long period.
Try consuming 1 to 2 teaspoons of balsamic vinegar as a dressing or marinade to keep your heart healthy.
Improves Blood Circulation
Balsamic vinegar has polyphenols, which may support cardiovascular function.
Grapes are found to keep your blood platelets from aggregating and prevent cardiac diseases, and balsamic vinegar is made with grapes.
It’s also one reason why Mediterranean cultures love using balsamic vinegar! They use it as a “healing” and “anti-aging” ingredient.
Improves Your Skin
Other vinegar variants like apple cider vinegar have potential benefits for the skin. It’s often used as a topical acne remedy since balsamic can have an unpleasant smell.
Balsamic vinegar also has a dark, stain-prone color that prevents many from using it for skin care, even though it has antioxidant, acetic acid, and antimicrobial compounds.
Risks of Balsamic Vinegar
Aside from the few nutrients that it offers, balsamic vinegar does not have many health risks.
One concern worth noting is that your throat may become inflamed, along with your esophagus. Some people who drink vinegar also experience stomach pain.
Heartburn after consuming balsamic vinegar may also occur.
Monitor your vinegar consumption or stop using it right away if it leads to any of these symptoms.
Is Balsamic Vinegar Keto-Friendly?
No. For most people on the keto diet this would be too high in carbs to use as a regular part of your diet.
Though the carb content does vary from brand to brand, at 3g carbs per tablespoon this is too high for most.
While it may seem low-carb, remember that white vinegar, red wine vinegar, and white wine vinegar have zero carbs!
So, while it is low-carb compared to other dressings and condiments, you might want to consider other vinegar options.
But if balsamic vinegar is your only option for a dressing or marinade, you may be able to fit it into your diet occasionally.
But at less than 50 grams of carbs allowed per day you will need to watch your carb intake for the rest of that day.
If you stay under your carb threshold, then small amounts of balsamic vinegar are okay.
The tip is to choose the lowest-carb balsamic vinegar and stick to other low-carb foods throughout the day.
For those who are well into their keto diet and are fat-adapted you may be able to include more into your diet.
Also, those on the targeted keto diet or the cyclical keto diet may allow balsamic vinegar in small amounts during a high-carb period.
Best Balsamic Vinegar for Keto
Pompeian Gourmet Balsamic Vinegar only has 2g of carbs per serving. It’s made of grapes from Modena, Italy, and aged to perfection.
This balsamic vinegar is rich, dark, flavorful, and available in other low-carb flavors, such as:
- Balsamic Pomegranate
- Golden Balsamic
- Honey Balsamic
- Organic Balsamic
- Raspberry Balsamic.
For white balsamic vinegar, you should try out Colavita White Balsamic Vinegar. With only 3g of carbs per serving, this product is made of 100% wine.
It has the same complexities as the original balsamic vinegar without the color. You can use it to prepare white meats, white sauces, vegetables, salads, fish, and rice.
Keto Recipe with Balsamic Vinegar
Now that you know which balsamic vinegar is best on the keto diet, you can finally try some low-carb recipes using it!
We know it tastes great with salads but try a high-fat meal like Joy-Filled Eats’ balsamic chicken recipe!
Here are the ingredients to prepare:
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 lbs. chicken tenders
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- ⅓ cup balsamic vinegar
- 2 sun-dried tomato halves
- 8 basil leaves.
This recipe contains 9g of fat and only 4g of carbs per serve!
If you want other options for a keto-friendly dressing, here are some of our recommendations.
Keto Balsamic Vinaigrette with Olive Oil
You can make your own balsamic vinaigrette with olive oil and balsamic vinegar! They are a match made in heaven.
Low Carb Yum’s recipe can be used as a marinade for your steak, chicken, and pork too!
The ingredients you will need for this recipe is:
- ⅓ cup balsamic vinegar
- 2 cloves garlic
- ⅛ tsp black pepper
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
- ⅔ cup olive oil.
This recipe only contains 2g of net carbs per serve!
Keto Italian Vinaigrette
This Italian vinaigrette recipe by Diet Doctor is very affordable and easy to make because almost all the ingredients are probably already in your pantry.
All you need is:
- 1 tbsp of Italian seasoning
- 1 cup light olive oil
- 4 tbsp red wine vinegar
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp ground black pepper
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
One serving of this dressing has less than 1g of carb and 22g of fats!
Traditional ranch dressing is made with buttermilk, but this recipe by Stay Snatched uses sour cream, mayo, and heavy cream for a lower carb content.
For this recipe, you will need the following:
- ½ cup sour cream
- ½ cup mayo
- ¼ cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 tsp chopped chives
- 1 tsp dried dill
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1-2 tsp fresh lemon juice
- Salt and pepper, to taste.
This quick and creamy recipe only has 2g of net carbs per serving, making it a perfect dressing or dip.
FAQ Keto Diet and Balsamic Vinegar
Does Balsamic Vinegar Help with Weight Loss?
Balsamic vinegar, along with other vinegars, is known for being anti-obesity. Balsamic vinegar has probiotic compounds that help you feel full for a long time.
When paired with low-carb foods, balsamic vinegar can add flavor to your food while also supporting your ketosis and weight loss goals.
Always maintain a healthy level of ketosis for weight loss so that your body continues to burn fats without feeling fatigued!
Does Sugar in Balsamic Vinegar Kick You Out of Ketosis?
The sugar in balsamic vinegar, which is mostly found in traditional balsamic vinegar, can kick you out of ketosis. If you are going completely carb-free, this may not be the right choice.
Balsamic glaze also contains a lot of sugar, so it’s a no-go on the keto diet.
Sugar intake needs to be limited to stay in ketosis and ketosis and keep your blood sugar levels at bay.
Find out how sugar affects your ketosis!
What is the Difference Between Balsamic and Regular Vinegar?
Balsamic vinegar is typically made of grapes and white vinegar, while regular white vinegar is made of acetic acid and water.
Acetic acid is what gives vinegar that authentic taste and smell.
Fortunately, most vinegar contains zero carbs and can be used on the keto diet.
Learn all the condiments and other foods that can kick you out of ketosis.
Be Mindful on the Keto Diet!
Always take note of your carb allowance when consuming balsamic vinegar on the keto diet.
While it is relatively low-carb, the dressings and condiments you use on keto should ideally be carb-free. This will allow you to spend your daily carb limit on nutritious whole foods.
But let’s be real. You can use balsamic vinegar in small quantities if you want to. Just remember to be mindful of the amount you eat and how it factors into the overall amount of carbs, fats, and protein in your meals.
Always keep in mind your daily carb limit on the keto diet so that you can enter and stay in ketosis longer.