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5 Ways Pickles Benefit Your Health

Updated: Sep 19, 2023

They say an apple a day keeps the doctor away, but did you know pickles can also keep them away? Pickles and the vinegary brine they are fermented in have many health benefits to the consumer and, in moderation, can help treat muscle cramps, build immunity, regulate blood sugar, restore electrolytes, improve gut health, and more. Whether you make your own pickles or buy a jar of them from the store, make the most out of them, eat the pickles, and drink the juice for maximum benefits – maybe your favorite snack may also be your new favorite drink!

1. Treatment of Muscle Cramps

While pickle juice may seem like a crazy idea, studies have shown that even just a tablespoon of pickle brine (vinegar kick and all) has been shown to reduce muscle cramping. North Dakota State University Professor Kevin C. Miller has studied the effects of pickle juice on cramping bodies in addition to dehydration and found that drinking pickle juice helped relieve muscle cramps by 45%. Even further, the study found that drinking pickle juice at the onset of a cramp rather than drinking water reduced cramps by 37%. Researchers found that taking a sip of pickle juice triggers our brain to relax the body due to the shock of the main brine ingredient – vinegar. So, the next time you find yourself with a painful cramp, reach for that jar of pickles, take a swig, and see how you feel. As strange as it seems, it may change your life.

2. Abundance of Vitamins and Antioxidants

One major benefit of pickles is their abundance of vitamins and antioxidants. Antioxidants are commonly found in fruits and vegetables and protect your cells against free radicals, molecules associated with cancer and heart disease. Although the nutritional values of pickles vary by type and size, the average dill pickle has about:

  • 20% of the daily recommended amount of vitamin K, which promotes bone health and your blood clot.

  • 6% of the daily recommended amount of calcium that is needed for strong bones and teeth and healthy nerves.

  • 3-4% of the daily recommended amount of vitamin C, which protects your cells from damage.

  • 2% of the daily recommended amount of potassium, which helps your nerves function properly.

Pickles are also a great source of beta-carotene, which is linked to a lower risk of chronic conditions such as type 2 diabetes and age-related macular degeneration.

3. Regulation of Blood Sugar

Pickles have underrated health benefits for people living with diabetes. The vinegar in pickle juice has also been shown to affect blood sugar levels positively. A study by the International Diabetes Federation showed that drinking pickle juice helps lower blood sugar levels in people with type II diabetes. The vinegar in pickle juice can also improve the body’s response to insulin and significantly reduce blood sugar after meals.

4. Restoration of Electrolytes

Pickles can be a surprising yet effective way to replenish electrolytes. How you may ask? The answer is within how they are made. Pickles are made by fermenting cucumbers in a brine solution, which is rich in sodium chloride, a key electrolyte. During physical activity or hot weather, our bodies lose electrolytes through sweat. In moderation, eating pickles is a quick and tasty way to consume sodium, which in turn will help restore the electrolyte balance in our system. Additionally, pickles also contain potassium and magnesium which are two more electrolytes your body needs. This also goes for any other pickled foods such as kimchi, pickled eggs, pickled carrots, and so on. Next time you’re looking for a savory and electrolyte-boosting snack, consider having some pickles to help your body stay fueled and hydrated!

5. Improvement of Gut Health

The process by which pickles are fermented creates a good kind of probiotic that promotes gut health and improves digestion. But, buyers beware, you won’t be able to find this kind of pickle within your local grocery store unless they are in a refrigerated area with the words “live culture” associated with them. Grocery stores use a process called fresh packing where they are placed in vinegar in order to stay fresh for a longer amount of time and to produce more pickles quicker. To gain the probiotic benefits from pickles, try fermenting some of your own at home or find a grocery store that sells fermented pickle brands like Krϋegermans or Bubbies.

With the abundance of health benefits they provide, pickles are a great guilt-free snack that pairs well with any dish! So the next time you find yourself ordering a sandwich or making a snack at home, be sure to grab a pickle or two with it. Your body will thank you!

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