Are Pickles Good For You?

Pickling is a traditional way to preserve certain foods, extending their shelf life without the need for refrigeration. Most things can be pickles, including vegetables and fruit, as well as meat and fish.  However, many of you have such a concern, are pickles good for you? This article will give the answer by explaining how they are made and their nutritional information, as well as how to achieve the most benefits from their consumption.

How Are Pickles Made?

Pickles have different recipes in different cultures. In western societies, pickles are usually made from salted gherkins, cucumbers, and various vegetables which are soaked (or pickled) in vinegar. Aside from these traditional ingredients, fruits like apples, peaches, and pears are often pickled as well. Pickles in western societies usually have sweet, sour, or salty flavors, whereas Indian pickles, for example, usually have a pungent taste.

Cucumber pickles are generally divided into the following categories:

  • Fermented/Crock Pickles
  • Fresh Pack/Quick Process Pickles
  • Refrigerator Pickles
  • Freezer Pickles

The methods of making the aforementioned pickle categories differ, for example, fermented/crock pickles are made by soaking the vegetables in either vinegar or salt brine for several weeks. The sugars are converted into lactic acid with the help of salt-resistant bacteria found within the vegetables, meanwhile, the acetic acid found within vinegar works to speed up the fermentation process.

Are Pickles Good For You?

Generally speaking, yes, they are considered healthy, but as with all things you consume, always read the label, as some pickles may be high in sugar, sodium, and/or artificial colors/flavorings, making them less healthy than other options.Below are more considerations you'd better be aware of.

1. General Nutritional Values

Pickles are often low in both fat and calorie content, making them a healthy and delicious snack. They also contain high amounts of vitamin K, one pickle slice containing around 20% of your RDA. Pickles also contain fiber, potassium, and vitamin C, and sodium. Whilst diets high in sodium can be considered bad, it can help hydration by working to retain water in your body for longer periods of time.

2. Probiotics

When vegetables or fruits are fermented, healthy bacteria is produced within them. Therefore, consuming some pickles can increase the amount of good bacteria in your stomach. In addition, eating pickles along with a meal can increase the probiotic content of other foods you consume.

3. Antioxidants

When answering the question – are pickles good for you? Their antioxidant content should most definitely be considered. Antioxidants work to protect against free radicals within the body, which are attributed to cancer and heart disease. When food is heated, it generally loses some of its antioxidant content, pickling fruits or vegetables works to preserve the antioxidants within them.

4. Possible Concerns

  • High sodium content: Almost every type of pickle has a high sodium (salt) content for preservation and nice taste. But, over-consumption of foods high in salt can have a detrimental effect on one's health. A major risk associated with high sodium consumption is hypertension, which is a major cause of heart attacks and strokes.
  • High oil content: Some pickles also have high a high oil content (such as Indian pickles), which can cause an increase in fat and cholesterol within your body. So you need to limit the consumption of pickles.
  • Mind for color addictive: Many pickle brands available commercially also contain toxic color additives, which are added to maintain a more aesthetically appealing product to the consumer.Whilst the color additives used today are generally not considered toxic, one would be wise to avoid eating too much food which has been artificially colored.

How to Enjoy the Most Benefits of Pickles

Along with figuring out the question, are pickles good for you, some benefits of pickles are listed, and you may want to know how to add pickles to your diet to enjoy the most benefits.

The best pickles that you can choose are those which have been fermented naturally. Food which have been fermented naturally contains live bacteria which produce B vitamins, making them the best and most healthy option. One should also aim to consume fresh pickled vegetables, such as sauerkraut, which can be found in natural food stores or the refrigerated sections of supermarkets. To ensure you know exactly what you are consuming, you can also use traditional methods to pickle your own vegetables.

When learning an answer to the question – are pickles god for you? One should remember that whilst it is not wise to completely swap fresh vegetables with pickled vegetables, eating pickled vegetables on sparse occasions will likely have no detrimental effect on one's health.

Below is a healthy recipe for making your own fermented pickles:

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