Although pickles have some health benefits, it’s not a good idea to eat pickles every day because they tend to be high in salt. Too much sodium can:
- Increase water retention
- Cause hypertension
- Raise blood pressure in people with hypertension
- Worsen edema in people with kidney failure
- Contribute to kidney dysfunction in people with compromised renal function
- Cause chronic long-term irritation of cells in the gut
How are pickles made?
Pickles are made by fermenting vegetables, fruits, or meat in a large amount of salt and oil or vinegar. In certain parts of the world, other spices may be added to pickles for flavor.
8 health benefits of pickles
While pickles should be consumed in moderation due to their high sodium content, they may have some health benefits:
- Probiotic effects: Naturally fermented pickles and their juice contain good bacteria, which when ingested in moderation can help with digestion and immune health. However, these probiotics are typically found in pickles that have naturally been fermented using only salt and spices.
- Rich in minerals: Pickles made of berries and vegetables have a good amount of minerals, such as calcium, iron, and potassium, along with vitamins A, C, and K.
- Lower blood sugar levels: Vinegar in pickles can help keep blood sugar levels in check and thus is said to be good for people with diabetes.
- Soothes muscle cramps: Because of the vinegar or the high salt content, pickles may provide faster relief from muscle pain after exercise as compared to water.
- Restores electrolyte balance: Pickle juice contains a significant amount of potassium and sodium, meaning that it can help replenish electrolytes in the body. However, pickles are not a replacement for post-exercise electrolyte solutions.
- Helps during pregnancy: Sour cravings and morning sickness experienced in pregnancy may be relieved by consuming pickles. Some have reported that the tangy taste helps curb nausea.
- Improves digestion: Amla (Indian gooseberry) pickle preparation is especially good for digestion.
- Antioxidant properties: As most pickles are made from fruits and vegetables, pickles contain antioxidants that combat free radical damage in the body.
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Chakraborty R, Roy S. Exploration of the diversity and associated health benefits of traditional pickles from the Himalayan and adjacent hilly regions of Indian subcontinent. J Food Sci Technol. 2018;55(5):1599-1613. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5897286/
Behera SS, El Sheikha AF, Hammami R, Kumar A. Traditionally fermented pickles: How the microbial diversity associated with their nutritional and health benefits? J Funct Foods. 2020;70: 103971. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S175646462030195X
Cleveland Clinic. 6 Health Benefits of Drinking Pickle Juice. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/6-health-b70enefits-of-drinking-pickle-juice/