Traditional balsamic vinegar (TBV) shows antioxidant capacity that increases passing from cask 5, containing the youngest vinegar, to cask 1 containing the oldest vinegar. This increase in antioxidant capacity is a consequence of both the concentration of compounds already present and of new antioxidants formation and is positively related to the increase in the polyphenolic content and in the Maillard reaction/caramellization products. During TBV aging, some reactions involving flavonoids and tannins take place. Tannins can undergo acid-catalyzed cleavage of their interflavonoid bonds with subsequent condensation of other flavonoid molecules. In addition, the low pH, the decrease of the water content and the presence of aldehydes, may promote flavonoids polycondensation. These reactions explain the observed increase in polymeric phenolic compounds and the decrease in monomeric flavonoids. During TBV aging an increase in the browning index is observed as a consequence of the polycondensation reactions of flavonoids and of brown melanoidins accumulation.


Traditional balsamic vinegar is a potentially healthy seasoning with high antioxidant capacity that increases during the aging resulting in a product with a strong antioxidant capacity and rich in phenolic compounds such as phenolic acids, monomeric catechins, flavonols and tannins. It also contains other antioxidants such as melanoidins derived from the Maillard and caramelization reaction that occur during must boiling and traditional balsamic vinegar aging. Independently of their bioavailability, traditional balsamic vinegar can contribute to supply antioxidant molecules that play an important role in protecting the gastrointestinal tract itself against peroxidation, thereby limiting the formation of detrimental lipid degradation products.