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Do Pickles Have Health Benefits?

Expertly reviewed by Chris Icamen · Dietetics and Nutrition


Written by Jason Inocencio · Updated Apr 17

Do Pickles Have Health Benefits?

Ask anyone what their image of a pickle is. They’ll likely say a long, plump, green vegetable that you find as a garnish in hamburgers or hotdogs. For the most part, pickling is an ancient gastronomic craft of preserving food in brine and/or vinegar. The image of the quintessential pickle in our heads are actually dill pickles. They can be spears, slices, or entire cucumbers that have been soaked in salt, vinegar, and spices. Pickles benefits aren’t what most think of when consuming them.

Pickling involves preserving foodstuffs under high acid concentration. This enables their preservation for over two years without refrigeration. Aside from the flavor they provide in our food, however, do pickles have benefits?

Pickles are everywhere

Since they are so ubiquitous particularly in fast food. It is hardly ever asked if there are health benefits to pickles. Cucumber pickles are a great source of the antioxidant beta-carotene. This has been linked to a lower risk of a number of chronic conditions, including age-related macular degeneration and Type-2 diabetes.

Pickling imparts unique and desirable changes in flavor, texture, and color. That takes place over time in fermented pickles.

Even in regions as remote as the Himalayas, their main meal is supplemented with pickles that adds flavor and value to the meal. These come with inherent health benefits. That includes traditional pickles as well as those of the fish and meat variety.

Pickles benefits?

Pickles are a rich source of vitamins and minerals. Fermented pickle assists several substantial functions, including enhancement or creation of unique flavors, as well as change in textural properties and digestibility of foods. Several researchers have reported that the fermented pickles (from fruits, vegetables, fish, or meat) contain subsided amounts of fat and cholesterol, which are in turn beneficial to human health.

In addition, rich amounts of nutritious and bioactive components such as proteins and amino acids have been reported from fermented pickles. Antioxidants in the form of flavonoids, phenols, and sterols have also been found in those pickles.

Sour pickled cucumbers are like pickled vegetables such as sauerkraut, that is, low in calories while containing a moderate amount of vitamin K in the form of K1. Also, most pickles have been reported to lower cholesterol levels, other than for pickles prepared in sugar syrup.

Possible downsides of pickles

A 2021 study found a connection between the use of a salt substitute like pickles in rural China. This study concluded that lack of comprehensive understanding of sodium reduction and salt substitutes were the main barriers to the use of salt substitutes.

The habitual consumption of high-sodium foods (such as pickled foods) were also factors in why the use of salt substitutes to reduce sodium intake was not as embraced. Pickles benefits can be tarnished in that sense.

Yet another study from 2021 presented a 36-year-old woman with a history of lupus and antiphospholipid syndrome controlled by warfarin. The woman was presented to the hospital with left periorbital ecchymosis.

The only identifiable precipitating factor was the woman having recently stopped consuming dill pickles. With dill pickles being rich in vitamin K, a steady amount of pickles was necessary for warfarin therapy.

Since pickles can also contain sulfites which can trigger asthma symptoms, they are among the foods cautioned against. People suffering from a bout with asthma are advised to avoid the sulfites used as a preservative in pickles.

Key takeaways

More than a mere garnish on your hamburger or hotdog order, the search for pickles benefits might not be something you’d consider and many might not be aware of. Pickles are a rich source of vitamins and minerals that are beneficial to health.

Bioactive components, antioxidants, and vitamin K present in pickles have been shown to have benefits such as lowering cholesterol levels. There are some possible downsides to the consumption of pickles, therefore moderation is the best advice for people who love eating them.

For more on diet and weight loss, click here.

Disclaimer

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Expertly reviewed by

Chris Icamen

Dietetics and Nutrition


Written by Jason Inocencio · Updated Apr 17

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