Are pickles good for you? Well, it all depends on the method used in making pickles. The following NutriNeat article elaborates on the traditional and modern pickling method and how they influence the nutritional content of the final product
Did You Know?
Dill pickles are the most frequently consumed pickles in the United States. They are often served along with sandwiches, burgers, and other snacks.
Pickles have long been the first choice when it comes to adding a dash of tangy spice to daily meals. They are a terrific flavor enhancer that can certainly make the dish more exciting. However, from a health standpoint, do these pickles have any nutritional value? Does the pickled taste provide more, other than making the meals tastier? The following NutriNeat article discusses whether having pickles can be beneficial to your health.
Are Pickles Good for Health?
As aforementioned, it all depends on the pickling method of food preservation. The vegetable cucumber or fruits such as apples, peaches, and pears used in making pickles are no doubt nutritious but the process of pickling determines nutritional content of the final product. They are discussed below:
The traditional method of fermentation used in making pickles is found to preserve the nutrition of the vegetable or the fruit used for pickling. This is because the traditional way of fermenting does not use any heat or canning. Only unrefined sea salt or pickling salt is used for fermenting and brining. This way of naturally fermenting pickles makes them a good source of beneficial bacteria that are known to improve digestion.
So having these pickles in small amounts is an easy way to increase beneficial bacteria in the gut. The good gut bacteria also help enhance immunity as well as play a key role in the synthesis of B and K vitamins. Moreover, heat-sensitive vitamins and minerals are also not lost when pickles are naturally fermented. This is one of the most important benefits of traditionally fermented pickles.
Modern Pickling Methods
The vinegar-based pasteurized pickles, the most common way of pickling, are heat-treated. Although this pickling process increases shelf life, it kills the rich enzymes, beneficial bacteria, as well as vitamins that are heat-labile. The heating process reduces the nutritional value of the final product. So these heat processed pickles have lesser nutrition than the traditional salt-based pickles.
Watch your Portion Size
No doubt traditionally fermented pickles are healthy and flavorful, but certainly, one should avoid excess consumption. The reason is simple; because of their high salt content. Extra addition of salt in pickles is necessary so as to preserve them for a longer duration. So having too much of pickles is like adding too much salt on a regular basis.
For instance, just a spear of dill pickle delivers a whopping 306 mg of sodium, which is 13% of daily dietary intake. So if you have a couple of spears on a daily basis, your sodium intake may well go beyond the prescribed limit (2,300 mg per day). This increased salt intake has been one of the primary factors in the development of high blood pressure (HBP). Too much sodium intake can also cause dehydration and increase the risk of kidney damage, heart attack, and stroke. Keeping these health risks in mind, it is essential that you have pickles in moderation.
Drinking pickle juice in small amounts may also provide a few health benefits. Due to its high sodium content, taking the juice may help relieve muscle cramps and hangover symptoms. Quite a few athletes take pickle juice and have reported that it provides much-needed relief from sports-related cramps. Consuming the juice of vinegar-based pickles may also contribute to alleviate heartburn symptoms.
Pickles During Pregnancy
It is commonly observed that women tend to develop a craving for pickles during pregnancy. Although pregnant women consuming these salt-based pickles is not a cause for concern, one has to be careful about the portion size so that excess sodium is not consumed during pregnancy.
On the whole, natural fermentation is the original pickling procedure and the pickles obtained in this manner have been an integral part of healthy meals for quite some time. So avoid pickle products on which vinegar is listed as an ingredient, as they are not a good source of beneficial bacteria.