Is there anything better than finding out that a favorite food is also good for you? I was once told that dark chocolate is good for your heart, and I stand by that as justification to eat it whenever I want. Another popular food that is surprisingly healthy is pickles! Pickles are more than just the vinegary spears of deliciousness you think they are, and eating them is beneficial for your health in many ways. Here are 7 health benefits of pickles to justify you eating a kosher dill pickle spear whenever you feel like it!
1. Full of Antioxidants
One of the most valuable nutritional benefits of pickles is their abundance of antioxidants. Pickles are great sources of vitamin c and vitamin e, two essential antioxidants that are found in many fruits and veggies. These natural antioxidants fight free radicals, which are chemicals in the body that can cause cancer and heart disease.
2. Good for your Gut Health
Not all pickles are fermented, but the ones that are, such as dill pickles, contain more health benefits than other kinds from the fermentation process. Most options found at the grocery store are not fermented pickles, but instead are fresh-packed, a method of pickling which involves being stored in a vinegar brine. However, those who make pickles at home will often ferment them, which provides substantial probiotic benefits. Fermentation creates good bacteria that support a healthy digestive system and boosts the immune system, which is partly why fermented foods like sauerkraut and kimchi are so popular.
3. Immune System Booster
Like many fruits and veggies, pickles are a great source of vitamins. While they would probably not be considered a healthy food because of their high sodium content, pickles are rich in vitamin K, vitamin A and vitamin c. Vitamins are essential for many body functions, along with boosting the immune system, which is especially important during covid!
4. Soothe Muscle Cramps
Pickle juice is a well-known treatment for muscle cramps among athletes, so this is also a health benefit of pickles. Studies have shown that drinking pickle juice is more effective at relieving cramps than drinking the same amount of water. Some speculate that the vinegar used when creating pickled cucumbers is the key in relieving pain, since vinegar blocks the nerve signals that lead to cramping. However, the sodium in pickles also helps with hydration and soothing cramps.
5. Support Weight Loss
Another dietary benefit of pickles is their ability to help with weight loss. This health benefit is also likely due to the vinegar used in the pickling process. Vinegar has been shown to increase fat burning and reduce the appetite, so even those who dislike the sour taste of pickles have been known to eat them for weight loss.
6. Blood Sugar Regulation
Pickles are also proven to regulate your blood sugar due to their vinegar content! Vinegar has been shown to regulate blood sugar levels of those with type 2 diabetes, and the Journal of Diabetes Research recommends having a small amount of vinegar before meals. Regulating blood sugar and minimizing blood sugar spikes are beneficial practices for everyone, even those without type 2 diabetes, because this reduces the risk of heart disease and diabetes.
7. Source of Potassium
Another health benefit of pickles relevant to athletes is their ability to help with electrolyte levels. Pickles and their juice have lots of potassium, which is an electrolyte lost in sweat. Not only does potassium help with electrolyte levels, potassium-rich foods are excellent for lowering high blood pressure, otherwise known as hypertension. So, the next time you order a sandwich, consider asking for an extra pickle spear on the side. Your body will thank you!